Writing Glitch #418

Today’s glitch:

Outskirts are the place… Doesn’t quite work. The best/least awkward way to fix it is just to delete the place, so it becomes outskirts are where… or better yet, change the whole sentence to No respectable person ever goes to the outskirts of the city and merge it with the next sentence by changing the period to a comma and deleting It’s.

Due to the English language’s lack of a universally recognized gender-neutral singular pronoun, a lot of people now use they whenever talking about one person when gender is unknown, inapplicable, or just not relevant. The reflexive/intensive form of this singular pronoun is themself, not themselves.

I also combined the last two sentences of the example to change the flow somewhat, but you could leave it as is if you want to keep the choppy feel (perhaps to put more emphasis on the last question).

No respectable person ever goes to the outskirts of the city, the domain of creatures and outcasts. Your protagonist is living there. Are they an outcast or a creature themself, or have they a more specific reason?

I have no idea what the writer of the original meant by creature, but it’s used awkwardly here, and I think it ought to be replaced with something else.



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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