Writing Glitch #235

Today’s glitch:


Spell out the number for a person’s age; don’t use numerals.

Hyphenate the number and year and old when these are all used together as a single adjective: His one-hundred-twenty-year-old grandmother is one hundred twenty years old.

Do not capitalize the first word of a dialogue tag following the dialogue.

Deathbed is one word, not two.

You’re the last grandchild to talk privately with your one-hundred-twenty-year-old grandmother on her deathbed.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?” she asks, knowing she will have only enough time to explain one secret or the other.

There’s a viewpoint glitch in these two paragraphs, but I don’t feel like rewriting the whole thing to fix that… If you are the POV character, how do you know what the other character, the grandmother, knows about how much time she has? This, friends, is what is meant by the term head hopping — at least what sensible people mean by that term. There are idjits who call it head hopping if a novel has one viewpoint character in one scene and someone else in the next, but they’re wrong. Also, as many writers of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance know, a POV character who can read minds/sense emotions makes the rules about “head hopping” a lot more flexible. 🙂


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to Writing Glitch #235

  1. M. Oniker says:

    Metagaming, is how I think of it. I learned a new term today: head hopping. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Metagaming” (if I understand how you’re using that word — it may mean something different now from how I saw people using it back in the mid-to-late 1990s) can be a useful thing for a writer, as long as you are able to keep what you know as the author separate from what the characters in the story know. (Also, dramatic irony… in your own head! Fun times.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • M. Oniker says:

        In this instance, I was using it much as you were head hopping: When one character knows something without having the background to know it. For example, a new character walks into a scene and for some reason knows everyone’s name, or a character says what your character in the RP is going to do next (grrrr), like, “I swing my bat, and it hits your jaw so hard that you go flying across the room. Then, like a little girl, you just sit there crying and don’t even use your magic crayon to strike back.” In your example, the first character knew what the grandmother was thinking, so I’d call that metagaming (a relatively mild form of it).

        I ain’t no author and don’t have no fancy learnin’ with all those lingo-y words, like head hopping, so when I reads things ‘ike that there mind-readin’, I thinks of what I knows, and that’s metagaming and the a-holes that does it.

        Liked by 1 person

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