In between my search for my next favorite novel, I’ve caught up on some fan fiction. There are many gifted yarn spinners out there in the Fandom, yet I’ve struggled with just about every fic I’ve read lately.
Why? Grammar — primarily the misuse of words.
I’ve always been a bit of a word nerd, and nothing cools my jets faster than someone throwing words around all willy-nilly. Just because two words look and sound similar does not make them interchangeable.
[*raises hand*I’m Daph, and I can’t make my fingers put a Y in flier when I know I’m supposed to.
*Side-eyes self* A pamphlet and an aviator are very different things.
*hangs head in shame* I know.]
I can overlook some errors in favor of the story, but it has to be one helluva story. When I read and come across a misused word, I feel like the writer is saying, “You know what I meant.” No, boo-boo, we ain’t playing Guesstures.
I’ll be the first to admit: I’m a major fic snob, and I’m unapologetic about it. If a writer expects readers to spend their valuable time with their creations, then they should give us readers their best words. Right? However, as with the prevalent misuse of “literally” has shown, we have no idea what some of those words mean.
Mandy Patinkin & Wallace Shawn — The Princess Bride
I suppose my issue isn’t so much with the writer, it’s the dissolution of rules…and dare I say: standards. I read an article the other day which said, “…dictionaries do not show how words should be used, but how they are commonly used… .”
This is unsettling to me, like an “everybody’s doing it” mentality. Language has gotten so lazy — I blame Instant Messaging and texting. I’m no fool. I know language changes over time, but it’s important for writers to stay true to themselves. Write well. Write simply. Write your truth.
I think Stephen King said it best in his memoir On Writing, “One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you may be a little ashamed of your shorter ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”
To paraphrase: Trying to sound smart makes you look stupid.
Your stone throwing may commence. *puts up telekinetic shield*