Writing Glitch #267

Today’s glitch:


The Council of Five are a group of five alien races that protect humans against less-peaceful races.

Technically, kids, those are species, not races.

Also, are the council members entire species, or just individual representatives of those species?

Also, alien shouldn’t be capitalized; it’s a common noun, not a proper one. (Humans isn’t normally capitalized, either, although some SF writers do so.)

Also, this example sounds clunky because of the word races (or species, if you fix that) being used twice where they are.

Try this instead: Members of several alien species make up the Council of Five, which protects humans against less-peaceful species. Not perfect, but better.


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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2 Responses to Writing Glitch #267

  1. mthomasmark says:

    This may be bold – it may also be open to debate, but… shouldn’t that read: “The Council of Five” is a group….. etc?
    The noun is council, which, in my estimation, is singular. Isn’t it?

    As far as the capitalisations: In fiction, as you pointed out, writers (like myself) tend to pick and choose. I capitalize Earth, when others don’t. I often capitalise (God, now that I think about it, whatever I want. I just try to remain consistent. (Dickens was known for doing this. I probably got it from reading him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In US English, a group is construed as singular, but in UK English, a group is construed as plural. So you’re correct, but so is the person who wrote the original version.

      When referring to the planet, capitalize Earth. When using the word as a synonym for dirt or ground, don’t capitalize earth.

      Liked by 1 person

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