NVDT – Writerly Concerns #38

Hukt Awn Foniks Werkt Fur Mee

The prompt was – What are your pet peeves as regards grammar and spelling?

Do I have any? Definately. The little red lines under words are their for a reason.

Grammar (as word usage) and spelling should always be correct outside of dialog.

Possessives and plural’s like ladys and ladies except when convention has negated the rules as in mens room since it would be gender inequality for men to get the apostrophe and ladies not to. Or is would that be ladys? Or… Is it correct to say “Excuse me, I’m off to the men ( or women) room? Is that why there are so many nongender synonym workarounds for potty?

All that other punctuation stuff? Is it the week we put punctuation outside of quotes or not? I refuse to believe the first three words of every sentence are an introductory clause. Grammarly disagrees. Imagine that. I use commas for phrasing and timing like rests in music, not “correctly.” It drives English Professor types nuts. Two bad – because —

I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. – Elmore Leonard

I also believe the following true.

Here is a lesson in creative writing. The first rule: do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. – Kurt Vonnegut

1) If it doesn’t work, even if it’s correct, rewrite or eliminate it.

2) If it needs a semicolon or some other oddball punctuation, re-write it. Use a period. Two short sentences do not make the author look stupid. Neither does whacking a couple of words here and there from two windy clauses that could be one good one. There is no sin in the simplicity of ‘Jim kicks Bill.’

Dialog is the exception. I said that already. Why? Good God y’all, people can and do talk some stoopid shit. The cops and crooks on true detective shows? The people newscasters interview who lived through a tornado in Oklahoma? Eyed put up an example but we’d be here all day.

You can’t have characters speaking perfectly but you also can’t cop out and have them speaking pidgin English like bad movie pirates. Dialect and patois, okay, to a point. But there is no reason to have characters speak like extras in Captain Blood. 

The point – Proper usage, conjugation, logical continuity, spelling should all be mandatory when committing writerly narrative to the page. Commas and that semicolon, em dashes (and their usage), ellipses (and the spaces before or after)…even quotation marks, are style choices. (As far as I’m concerned)

Why? Punctuation is something even the Grammar Nazis can’t agree on.

Yeah. Spelling, proper usage, and content – Definately.

Joke. What do divorces and tornados have in common in Oklahoma?

It’s for sure somebody’s gonna lose a double-wide.



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Published by

Phil Huston


19 thoughts on “NVDT – Writerly Concerns #38”

  1. I hate the way apostrophes seem to have disappeared from the English language. It’s normal to see ‘mens room’ these days and ‘childrens meals’ at restaurants. English grammar is slip-sliding away with the over-use of texts and Yoofspeak.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sometimes they go before ‘and’ and sometimes they don’t. But, sometimes they go before ‘but’ but sometimes they don’t and they after instead. Go figure.


    1. I turn it on, ignore most of it except spelling and it has no idea what to do about dialog. I’ll run it as proof, because it forces me into a line by line look at myself, if only to see if I agree or not. And that line by line will show me inside out sentences, excess, redundancies…things that Grammarly has no idea about.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love semicolons. That falls under my Bite Me list. I’ll use ’em and love because they make me happy. (I rarely use them, mind you, but I enjoy them.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve read your work and wouldn’t expect you to differentiate between a device, an activity, or a product. Particularly in a discussion where the possibilities for possessive spelling and punctuation are in a state of metamorphosis. If you’re trying to fuck with me because I suggested that if (one) were to give you an enema (one) could bury what was leftover in a shoebox and there is documented evidence that you can’t remember how to spell a top character’s name in your own work I suggest to you now such activity is analogous to bringing a butter knife to the OK Corral. Crap, shit, etc are used synonymously or euphemistically for substandard “output”. Like yours. Unless the specific activity and product of a bowel movement are being discussed there is no reason for literal translation of that act from colloquial uses of (insert poop word here). The question becomes why do the colloquial uses of (poop words) immediately become literal to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop, but then that was said of a mind worth invading. The fascinating thing about you is that you don’t give a damn, and don’t give a damn that you don’t give a damn. Like Margaritaville on crack.

      Liked by 1 person

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