Six impossible things

Posts Tagged grammar

The Lego Theory, Part 2

Words, being the smallest and most basic building blocks of fiction, have lots of useful and important properties. I’ve already talked about specificity and sound; the next really key thing a writer needs to know about words is that they have different…strength or significance. I define strong […]

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The Lego Theory, Part II

Words, being the smallest and most basic building blocks of fiction, have lots of useful and important properties. I’ve already talked about specificity and sound; the next really key thing a writer needs to know about words is that they have different…strength or significance. I define strong […]

Read more

The Lego Theory, Part 1

Fiction is like Legos. It’s built out of a series of different units, stuck together. Each new level of unit is built out of a clump of previous units. The more units you have, the more complex effects you can achieve by moving them around, putting them […]

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The Most Basic of Basics

“It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.” – Mark Twain One of the things that a great many people seem to know for sure is that they don’t need any knowledge of the rules of grammar, […]

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The Other Big Three

When professional writers are asked “what are the books you keep within arm’s reach of your desk or computer?”, many of the lists have for years included Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Fowler’s Modern English Usage is also popular, as is The Chicago Manual of […]

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Looking Backward II, or Some Tenses and How to Use Them

The second most common way of leading into and out of a flashback sequence is by shifting tenses. Most novels are told in what’s called the “historic present,” meaning that the “now” of the story is told in simple past tense (He slept in the library all afternoon rather than […]

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A Rant on Passive voice

I have just finished arguing with a would-be writer who a) is convinced that passive voice is evil and must be avoided at all times, and b) has, it turns out, no idea at all what passive voice actually is. I am therefore going to rant. Passive […]

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