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"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so." (Sherlock Holmes)

I sometimes enjoy embedding puns and subtle self-references into many of my answers and comments.

Remember, context is everything.


Never make the mistake of thinking that a tiny preposition has only one meaning.


Feb
23
comment Attributing Quote to Fictional Characters (Who are based on real people)
I believe it was Twain who said that, not Franklin :^)
Feb
23
comment Struggling to writing in English
Insofar as resources go, there's the English Language Learners Stack Exchange site. They don't do proofreading there, but they might be able to help with any specific questions you have about English.
Feb
2
comment Multiple characters without names: how to address
Sometimes I don't ever plan to give someone a name. Particularly if they are going to be disposed of in some fashion not warranting the effort of naming them. Oh, yes, I've seen him! The guy in the red shirt.
Feb
2
comment What is the best way to use your favorite authors as inspiration without plagiarism?
@LaurenIpsum - You can probably back it up further than that. That object could be Excalibur for all we know. :^)
Jan
27
comment Writing a short documentary about a medical clinic
@SF - Perhaps so. This is how I was envisioning it, though: Let's say that during your research, you learn that the clinic gets very busy on Saturday nights, often with very bad injuries (car wrecks, gunshot wounds, etc.). The narrator might read one or two lines from a script (The clinic gets very busy on Saturday nights, often with patients who are badly injured) and then the documentary would show some of the more bloody patients being wheeled into triage. In this case, the script came from the research findings; beforehand, the writer may not have known about Saturday the night spikes.
Jan
11
comment Dates and numbers in newspaper articles
If you looked around and found inconsistent examples, then it stands to reason that there is no "universal format." However, I doubt it's left up to the "author's discretion" – many publications probably have their own formatting standards.
Nov
16
comment How can I write a tragedy for children?
@LaurenIpsum - Charlotte's Web, too. Oh, that was rough when Charlotte died...
Nov
15
comment How can I write a tragedy for children?
Yes. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? (John Winger, played by Bill Murray, in Stripes).
Jul
2
comment Does the country matter in a story if it is set in a real one?
I'm in agreement with most everything here, except I think murder mysteries often do benefit when the author is familiar with local law enforcement, and it would be hard to write a credible mystery without that familiarity. Hence, American murder mysteries feature detectives who recite Miranda rights (when they finally catch the murderer), British mysteries have references to Scotland Yard, and so forth. "Book 'em, Dano."
Jul
2
comment Using the Minto Pyramid
I would think the latter, at least in the general case, to avoid the gap between, say, Why and A & B. But I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer; it could depend on a number of factors, such as the topic or the length of the work.
Jul
2
comment Variation in paragraph length
Until you get to the comments...
Jul
2
comment Variation in paragraph length
I think it's ironic that both of your paragraphs are 7 lines long, and only vary in word length by about a dozen words. That said, it's sound advice...
Jun
23
comment How to avoid repetition
@Mari-Lou: I think there is a missing "the" there; omitted inadvertantly.
Jun
23
comment How to avoid repetition
FWIW, I'd put the comma after store, and I'd use the word respectively at the end again. I think @StoneyB means, as is, the sentence could be parsed to mean, "X is sold in that store for $200 and $300, and Y is sold in that store for $200 and $300." Admittedly, that doesn't make too much sense (unless both X and Y have both basic and deluxe models, in which case it might make sense after all). But I don't see how a single comma w/out "respectively" solves that potential misinterpretation.
Jun
22
comment How to avoid repetition
There is some really good advice in here for the stylus sentence. +1
Jun
22
comment How to avoid repetition
Two points: (1) Such repitition isn't always bad. In fact, there's even a name for it. (2) If the paralleism does sound awkward or repititious, that's not necessarily a bad thing, either. Few people write eloquently on the first draft. Therefore, when writing, the answer to your question is often "proofread & edit." When speaking, most listeners won't hold you accountable for repeating the same words or phrases. Incidentally, in your stylus example, I like your original sentence best.
Mar
16
comment Best way to emphasise the greenness of the fields in spring in comparison with summer
Or, dried out? I think it depends on why the grass loses its luster. The harsh heat? Trodden over by foot? If we don't understand why, it's hard to answer this question, be it from the writer's perspective, or the English perspective (the latter being a request for an idiom).
Feb
16
comment Is it true that men (in general) can't write female first-person?
I'd probably change "cannot" to "do not" (or maybe even "prefer not to") – that might be more accurate. No matter how it's worded, though, the "in general" is vital: it acknowledges there may be exceptions to the assertion. It's also worth noting that this was apparently part of a set of conclusions drawn from an 8-person literary circle, not a comprehensive study. Still, if we put all the first-person books written by men onto a balance, sorted by whether the main character is male or female, I'm pretty sure I know which way the scales would tip, so the notion isn't utterly preposterous.
Jan
8
comment Unsure of how to interpret this prompt
tofu: I believe @SF means that whoever evaluates your essay is likely to be much less interested in which side you take than in how well you support your position logically.
Jan
8
comment How many different words are in the average novel?
I'm curious: did you get this data from somewhere?