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Monday, July 24, 2017

On bad writing

I was talking to one of our authors today, trying to understand why authors so often make a certain style of mistake that has puzzled me for years. He actually managed to articulate it, and I found the explanation to be rather fascinating as well as potentially useful to those who are trying to improve their literary style. I think it is something that separates bad writing from competent writing.

What we were discussing is the nonsensical metaphor or simile. Now, I have used a nonsensical simile at least once myself, although I did so knowingly, as it was an inside joke. Some old-school Ilk might remember the phrase "then it hit him, like a cheetah" from Rebel Moon. That was something my best friend's brother used to say, because my best friend's brother is a complete goofball who gloried in saying nonsensical things like that. The point is that I knew it was a silly simile and horrifically bad writing, although I suppose it is not a nonsensical simile from a technical perspective, since being hit by a cheetah at 60+ MPH would presumably be the sort of thing that would bowl one over.

However, as the writer explained, the mediocre writer doesn't know that the metaphor or the simile is nonsensical. To him, it is an emotionally true connection, and therefore it makes sense, even when it objectively doesn't. For the purposes of reference, here are the four examples from the rough draft to which the author, Johan Kalsi, is referring, a bizarre metaphor that completely mystified me, and not only because the author utilized it FOUR FREAKING TIMES in a single scene.

Jeckell's broad, sleepy face held his lips in a strange smile, as if he had just caught a mouse between his teeth. 

Jeckell continued to chew on his mouse, doing nothing to wipe his face clean of its aura of smug supremacy.

Jeckell stopped gnawing the imaginary mouse for a moment.

Everyone gasped. Jeckell stood up and punched the table in front of him, his jaw clenched back down on the mouse.

I like to think that my editorial comments were polite, professional and helpful: "What the fuck is going on with this guy chewing on a nonexistent mouse? What does that even look like? Lose the fucking mouse!"

I mean, this was, by any measure, bad writing. Fine, everyone commits their clunkers from time to time. But this is a weird mistake, and one I see far too often these days, with authors using words they apparently don't understand and images that simply don't make any kind of sense. Fortunately, Mr. Kalsi was able to put this particular example into perspective that at least make a modicum of sense, and should help people avoid making this particular mistake.
  • I was trying to emulate Asimov's long Q&A scene from Foundation, which I don't like, and I was being lazy - I hadn't figured out good words to make the bureaucrat both human and annoying, so I just wrote that mouse thing in, because I had an image in my head of this fat old barn cat I came across when I was a kid. I opened a bag of feed, and this cat was in there, chewing on a wriggling mouse. It was a disturbing, vivid, shocking thing, and I still remember that cat's dead eyes looking at me like, "What, asshole? Just watch it wriggle."
  • Emotionally, I thought of the bureaucrat like that - this perfectly harmless guy that the First Technocrat had known for decades, who suddenly held his life in his hands, and didn't care a bit.
  • Of course, some random personal memory means nothing to you or any other reader, and that's why it is such an annoying dig at the reader.
  • A bad writer or a lazy writer won't see when he does this (I think it got mentioned 3 times in a page or something, and I didn't even remember I had written it at all when you pointed it out to me.)
  • A gamma will cling to this personal image as a secret king thing - "Oh, the peasant reader doesn't get me - I'm a genius!" and as an excuse thing when the criticism comes. - Delusional
  • The old big writers I can think of who did it a lot were Stephen King (the lady in Misery has "a face like a tornado" twice in two pages, for example - memorable for the wrong reasons) Piers Anthony and Philip Jose Farmer.
Kalsi is right. A face like a tornado makes no more sense than a man gnawing on a mouse. Remember, writing is communication. So, off-hand implied references to personal memories or associations that are not accessible to your readers is not going to make you look brilliant, it's just going to make you a bad writer.

Labels:

227 Comments:

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Anonymous Scalzi July 24, 2017 3:59 PM  

Great advice. I owe you a blowjob.

Anonymous CitizenOutkast July 24, 2017 4:01 PM  

OT: Sweden is becoming a parody of itself. Using clowns now to "teach" rapist Muslims how to integrate. Send in the cucks. Clowns for Rapefugees.

Anonymous meta 4 July 24, 2017 4:01 PM  

You spent this many words to explain that metaphors should make sense?

Are you proud of your editing prowess?

Blogger CM July 24, 2017 4:05 PM  

Would the metaphor be better with "like a barn cat who just caught its prey" and then leave it?

I like the metaphor of the barn cat, due to the cat's well established reputation of smug superiority, and the prey part puts the subject of the business man's expression in the right place. Beyond that, torturing a metaphor is not needed without alcohol and with writing instruments at hand.

Anonymous Johnny Mayonnaise July 24, 2017 4:06 PM  

@meta 4
You spent this many words to explain that metaphors should make sense? Are you proud of your editing prowess?

Idiotic. By that logic, War And Peace should be twelve pages.

Blogger Andrew July 24, 2017 4:09 PM  

Would it make sense to insert the previous encounter with the cat and mouse, to draw that connection?

Anonymous Battlefrog July 24, 2017 4:10 PM  

CM wrote:Would the metaphor be better with "like a barn cat who just caught its prey" and then leave it?

I like the metaphor of the barn cat, due to the cat's well established reputation of smug superiority, and the prey part puts the subject of the business man's expression in the right place. Beyond that, torturing a metaphor is not needed without alcohol and with writing instruments at hand.


If the narration was such that the narrator could plausibly tell the barn cat story he told VD, I think it would be quite good.

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 4:12 PM  

meta 4 wrote:You spent this many words to explain that metaphors should make sense?

Are you proud of your editing prowess?


Spooner, take your meds please.

Anonymous Faceless July 24, 2017 4:14 PM  

That sounds like when F. R. Ancine kept referencing a hot, summer sidewalk.

Anonymous patrick kelly July 24, 2017 4:16 PM  

"meta 4 wrote:You spent this many words to explain that metaphors should make sense?

Are you proud of your editing prowess?
"

The poop on the floor left him appalled and perplexed, mouthing a reply that never came, like he was gnawing on a dead mouse.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents July 24, 2017 4:17 PM  

Piers Anthony and Philip Jose Farmer

Two 1970's authors that I made the mistake of reading once. Now I know why both of them were too annoying to waste time on.

Anonymous Dortmunder July 24, 2017 4:18 PM  

The moon hangs low, like a testicle.

Blogger Cloudswrest July 24, 2017 4:18 PM  

If satirical it can be useful, like Douglass Adams line from HHGG, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”

Blogger Scott Birch July 24, 2017 4:21 PM  

I find that very funny. God it's awful.

I think I like goofy similes, if not metaphors, used for comic effect. Douglas Adams did some well, and Pratchett probably did too.

Anonymous fop July 24, 2017 4:23 PM  

"He winced audibly like a hurt turtle."

Blogger Ingot9455 July 24, 2017 4:26 PM  

Of course, cultural metaphors are a different matter - Ready Player One is full of 1980s cultural metaphors which the author often has to stop to explain just in case the more average reader isn't familiar with them the way his intended geek audience would be. Which is what's going to the make the movie so difficult, however visually exciting it may be.

OpenID doktorjeep July 24, 2017 4:30 PM  

So generally it's like an inside joke and the reader does not know the context of it.

"Like a train missing its caboose...."

(sorry, couldn't help it)

Blogger Rick July 24, 2017 4:34 PM  

"Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. There are only certain words which are valid and similies (bring me my dictionary) are like defective ammunition (the lowest thing I can think of at this time)."

Hemingway

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 24, 2017 4:40 PM  

He gripped the steering wheel, like a man gripping a dead mouse in his mouth, but with his hands.

Anonymous Bz July 24, 2017 4:42 PM  

Kill your darlings.

Blogger James Dixon July 24, 2017 4:42 PM  

> ...Piers Anthony

Honestly, that could describe some entire Piers Anthony books. I think that was the point behind some of them.

> If the narration was such that the narrator could plausibly tell the barn cat story he told VD, I think it would be quite good.

It would require a change or perspective. The viewer would have to be describing how it reminded him of an old barn cat who had just caught his prey. That would probably get far too wordy, unless there was another reason for including it.

Anonymous Precious July 24, 2017 4:46 PM  

the mediocre writer doesn't know that the metaphor or the simile is nonsensical

I recall Attorn a couple of weeks back having this problem with his metaphor.

Blogger Student in Blue July 24, 2017 4:47 PM  

Huh. So I guess you could say this revelation hit Vox like a cheetah. A cheetah with a dead mouse in its jaws.

Blogger BunE22 July 24, 2017 4:48 PM  

I would think a face like a tornado is dark and twisted, but just write "dark and twisted." It still paints a picture in the reader's mind without them asking themselves: What? Sometimes plain speak is better.

Stephen King is alright but his endings usually suck. His mind is like a tornado. Heh.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 24, 2017 4:51 PM  

Send in the cucks.

Don't bother, they're here.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr July 24, 2017 4:52 PM  

This is why Vox gets nominated as an award-winning editor. It's easy to read something and recognize that something is off. Recognizing what's wrong and extending it to a basic principle...that's a lot harder than it looks.

Anonymous Stephen J. July 24, 2017 4:54 PM  

@4: "Would the metaphor be better with 'like a barn cat who just caught its prey' and then leave it?"

Or even longer. Nothing's wrong with using a few more words if it suffices to accomplish the exact effect, perhaps something like "Jeckell smiled, his broad face and heavy-lidded dead eyes making him look for a moment like a fat old barn cat gnawing a helpless mouse." If done right the image will carry the character's emotional note through the rest of the scene.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 24, 2017 4:54 PM  

Piers Anthony.

A pen name for an author who wrote maybe three books in his life but parlayed them into a library of clones that yielded a goldmine.

Describes most wealthy writers.

Blogger Fenris Wulf July 24, 2017 4:55 PM  

Here's how Stephen King would do it ...

He would actually WRITE the cat and mouse scene, as an incident in the protagonists' childhood. The cat would look up at him with dead, inhuman eyes, and he would imagine the cat saying WATCH IT SQUIRM. Throughout the novel, the phrase would recur every time the protagonist witnessed something grisly or horrible. Slasher flicks, car accidents, monsters from other dimensions that suck out people's souls, et cetera.

The repeated phrase gimmick is one of King's trademarks. Sometimes it's a bumper sticker or an advertising slogan that takes on a sinister meaning. It's pretty effective.

Blogger Legion of Logic July 24, 2017 5:00 PM  

Someone this obsessed with categorizing people into "alpha" and "beta" and "gamma" and all that nonsense is, ironically, likely not an alpha.

Just saying.

Anonymous Jack July 24, 2017 5:01 PM  

Unless and until education goes back to grammar, classical languages, and classical literature, I expect writing to get worse and worse. The whole "it's art because I say it's art" thing that began with Dada a hundred years ago and which has reappeared in various other forms since then has been a catastrophe for Western art, be it literature, painting, sculpture, or architecture.

Read almost any book written in the 1800s or early 1900s, and marvel at the quality of the prose compared to today.

OpenID paworldandtimes July 24, 2017 5:06 PM  

There is no cuntier, faux dindu, signoff than "just sayin."

PA

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer July 24, 2017 5:06 PM  

The ocean roared like a grey-blue wet lion.

Anonymous Azimus July 24, 2017 5:07 PM  

This post tastes shiny

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 24, 2017 5:11 PM  

Someone this obsessed with categorizing people into "alpha" and "beta" and "gamma" and all that nonsense is, ironically, likely not an alpha.

Just saying.

Someone this butthurt pver the existence of the socio-sexual hierarchy must be on the loser side of it. Gammas always tell you who they are.

Anonymous Luca Brayson July 24, 2017 5:11 PM  

I find it hard to believe that Finland's most accomplished science fiction writer would make such a basic mistake. I bet it's a really deep metaphor in the original Finnish that just didn't come across in translation. Kalsi will no doubt improve as he becomes more accustomed to writing in English.

Anonymous HM July 24, 2017 5:12 PM  

maybe a cats vs dog conflict? "Jeckell stood up and punched the table in front of him", the character wants the others to see he is not a cat but, as a dog he cannot say this outright as dogs do not make excuses

Anonymous Avalanche July 24, 2017 5:14 PM  

@23 "So I guess you could say this revelation hit Vox like a cheetah."

You COULD say it.... but I wouldn't recommend it.

Anonymous Precious July 24, 2017 5:17 PM  

@30 You are correct LoL, he is a sigma.

Anonymous Johnny Mayonnaise July 24, 2017 5:21 PM  

@30 Legion Of Logic wrote:
Someone this obsessed with categorizing people into "alpha" and "beta" and "gamma" and all that nonsense is, ironically, likely not an alpha.

Yet, all the evidence -- Vox's books, Infogalactic, Castalia, this blog -- prove otherwise.

Blogger Wolfman at Large July 24, 2017 5:22 PM  

So I need to explain the Magic Space Aryan thing.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:26 PM  

Aeoli Pera wrote:He gripped the steering wheel, like a man gripping a dead mouse in his mouth, but with his hands.

I laughed out loud at that one.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab July 24, 2017 5:28 PM  

It was smooth but strong, like a smooth strong penis.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:28 PM  

I was talking with a German woman at the beach yesterday. She said, "do you have a phrase in English which describes how one thing can remind you of a completely different thing?" I thought for a bit, then said I didn't think so. "We do. We call it a donkey bridge," she said.

I like that. I think I'll start using it in my work, like a lemon in the pool.

Blogger Lazarus July 24, 2017 5:28 PM  

A man's mouth should exceed his mouse, or what's a metaphor?

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:29 PM  

His face was hard, like cricket.

Blogger Markku July 24, 2017 5:31 PM  

Interesting, we also have "aasinsilta" which literally translates to Donkey Bridge.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:31 PM  

She burst from the pool, bosom heaving like woodchucks could chuck - provided they did chuck, of course - though in her case it was less ambiguously.

Blogger The Sasquatch July 24, 2017 5:31 PM  

The lesson hit me fast and thick, like an out of control school bus filled with spoiled mayonnaise. I will re-learn the leasson many times as I clean mayonnaise out of my hair for lo, these many months.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:32 PM  

Markku wrote:Interesting, we also have "aasinsilta" which literally translates to Donkey Bridge.

That's fantastic, he said, like the Mr. of that name however not in a proper noun sense.

Blogger James Dixon July 24, 2017 5:32 PM  

> Just saying.

Why, it's almost like you have nothing else to say...

Blogger Markku July 24, 2017 5:35 PM  

Turns out it's called that because Euclid's Fifth Law is known as pons asinorum which was generalized to any completely artificial transition from one subject to the other.

Anonymous Johnny Mayonnaise July 24, 2017 5:38 PM  

My favorite, from Stephen King:

"He sat stolidly beside the corpse, waiting for the medical examiner as patiently as a man waiting for a turkey sandwich."

Blogger Dave July 24, 2017 5:40 PM  

The 6'3" ex-Finnish Marine should leave the Tom and Jerry stories for Hanna Barbera

Blogger Markku July 24, 2017 5:40 PM  

She didn't describe it entirely accurately though. "Aasinsilta" isn't merely when you are REMINDED of another topic. It's when you raise one topic for the specific purpose for bringing up another topic in such a way that you hope the interlocutor doesn't realize what you did. Namely that you wanted to talk about the second topic in the first place, but you couldn't just go directly there. You needed some excuse.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:40 PM  

Markku wrote:Turns out it's called that because Euclid's Fifth Law is known as pons asinorum which was generalized to any completely artificial transition from one subject to the other.

Now I wish I had been born in a place where high IQs are the norm.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab July 24, 2017 5:41 PM  

He crossed the bridge like a donkey. A hard, cricket-faced donkey.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:42 PM  

A hard, cricket-faced tornado of a mouse-chewing donkey man being hit by a cheetah.

Blogger VD July 24, 2017 5:42 PM  

I would think a face like a tornado is dark and twisted, but just write "dark and twisted."

I think it is a weird twist on a "stormy" expression.

Blogger VD July 24, 2017 5:43 PM  

Someone this obsessed with categorizing people into "alpha" and "beta" and "gamma" and all that nonsense is, ironically, likely not an alpha.

Always nice to hear from the gammas.

Blogger Troy Lee Messer July 24, 2017 5:45 PM  

One of my pet peeves was reading police reports as a prosecutor. Reports would have 3 or more male parties. I would get sentences like "He said he went into the the room. Then they went in and he came out, wherein he punched him." Too many pronouns. Because of the ambiguity, I'd refuse to prosecute. The deputies (It was always Sheriff deputies cuz the Arizona DPS guys knew how to write) would call and whine.

Anonymous bobdobbs July 24, 2017 5:47 PM  

@Stephen J.

-"Jeckell smiled, his broad face and heavy-lidded dead eyes making him look for a moment like a fat old barn cat gnawing a helpless mouse."

Cat's eyes don't have lids.

They sure don't look dead.

And,
WTF would a broad face make me think of a cat?

Great example of the OP! YOU ROCK.

Anonymous bobdobbs July 24, 2017 5:49 PM  

I think it is a weird twist on a "stormy" expression.

Not to be a pun, I am quite sure.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 5:50 PM  

I am sure some of these mistakes are caused not by a lack of knowledge on the part of the author, but by an intelligent author flying along and making connections which make internal sense to him as Kalsi's mouse did. Though no matter what the person's intellectual capability, the end result is cheap diapers.

Blogger Markku July 24, 2017 5:52 PM  

Cat's eyes don't have lids.

Yes they do.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Nictitating_membrane

"The nictitating membrane (from Latin nictare, to blink) is a transparent or translucent third eyelid [emphasis mine] present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining visibility."

Blogger Dave July 24, 2017 5:52 PM  

Yes! Donkey bridge! Did ya'll see the cat chewing on the dead mouse?

Anonymous BluePony July 24, 2017 5:55 PM  

I sometimes like to use contradictory ones just for fun. Like an engine "roared like a butterfly" for a guy leadfooting an electric car.

They're very quiet, you see.

DON'T JUDGE ME!

"I would think a face like a tornado is dark and twisted"

The wreckage of a house after a tornado was what popped into my head, so someone ugly. You know, I think I actually like it because it's subjective. King just said, screw it, use your damn imagination.

Blogger Zeroh Tollrants July 24, 2017 5:56 PM  

Could it be that women connect w/goofy metaphors, better? Easier?
The reason I ask, is because I actually like them. If they are particularly bad, I'll find myself chuckling & repeating them to myself.
Of course, I'm also thinking, "Good grief, what compelled you to write that hot garbage?"

Anonymous MrNiceguy July 24, 2017 5:57 PM  

"Her face was like a tornado, prone to ravage trailer parks, leaving homeless meth-heads in its wake."

Anonymous Brick Hardslab July 24, 2017 5:58 PM  

He crossed the donkey bridge like a 6', 10" Finnish Marine, beating a barn cat chewing a live mouse. Also, penis.

Blogger modsquad July 24, 2017 6:03 PM  

There she stood in the doorway with a 44. She had a gun too.

Blogger Dave July 24, 2017 6:08 PM  

I like to think that my editorial comments were polite, professional and helpful

Is it safe to assume your editorial commenting style differs from author to authur?

Anonymous Andrew Anglin July 24, 2017 6:11 PM  

"then it hit him, like a runaway train being chased by a hungry cheetah."

izzat better?

Anonymous RedSector July 24, 2017 6:15 PM  

"There she stood in the doorway with a 44. She had a gun too."

"You look like a Masonic waitwright chasing the perfect gear ratio, sugar" she said. "C'mon in and crack open a cold one before a cheetah comes and knocks you into an Liberal oubliette."

Dennis Miller could only stare after he, astonished. At long last, he had found her- his muse.

Anonymous Steve July 24, 2017 6:17 PM  

"face like a tornado" sounds pretty descriptive to me, if King means turbulent, a maelstrom of violent emotions surfacing.

Twice in two pages is overegging the lily though. Mr King has criticised himself in print as a "quick sketch artist", which he is, albeit an amazingly talented one with an astonishing grasp of characterisation and atmosphere - particularly when he's nostalgalising for the small town America of the mid-to-late 20th c. He's the Spielberg of paperback fiction.

My only complaints about King's writing concern his tone deaf Boomer shitlibbery and his terrible, awful, no good, very bad endings.

DARK TOWER's end was barely better than "it was all a dream", and Kubrick's take on THE SHINING beats King's original with a roque mallet.

I look forward to reading Mr Kalsi's next book, even if it's as mouseless as a cat's high school reunion.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener July 24, 2017 6:17 PM  

Calm as cabbage, Johan patiently read the blistering criticism of his beloved metaphors.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 6:18 PM  

Dave wrote:I like to think that my editorial comments were polite, professional and helpful

Is it safe to assume your editorial commenting style differs from author to authur?


As Vox's favorite CH author, he's made it quite clear that my writing is somewhere between that of Shakespeare and Eco. He's stated vehemently that even my typos are worth saving for the finished manuscript. I'm sure he's harder on some of the less accomplished guys. Crevald, Wright, Cole, etc.

Blogger My Dead Gramps July 24, 2017 6:21 PM  

Speaking of bad writing, the latest 'epic' (naval) battle in GoT. Sheesh.

Blogger BunE22 July 24, 2017 6:22 PM  

I would think a face like a tornado is dark and twisted, but just write "dark and twisted." It still paints a picture in the reader's mind without them asking themselves: What? Sometimes plain speak is better.

Stephen King is alright but his endings usually suck. His mind is like a tornado. Heh.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable July 24, 2017 6:24 PM  

Stephen King is alright but his endings usually suck.

The Dark Tower The Dark Tower The Dark Tower. Years of my life wasted.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener July 24, 2017 6:25 PM  

@77 I wonder what Vox meant by that. Charles Baudelaire was between Shakespeare and Eco both spatially and temporally...

Blogger VD July 24, 2017 6:26 PM  

Speaking of bad writing, the latest 'epic' (naval) battle in GoT.

Oh, it was fun seeing those stupid Sand Snakes slaughtered by a single man. Even if it was silly that they, and his niece, could take more than one punch from him.

Using a rope in a tightly restricted melee. Sure, that sounds viable....

Blogger OK July 24, 2017 6:36 PM  

This is the sort of bad writing, beloved of the literary fiction set, which was deplored by B.R. Myers in his famous Atlantic article "A Reader's Manifesto". The essay tears into Dom DeLillo, Annie Proulx, and Cormac McCarthy, as I recall. If you haven't read it before, it's worth a read. It's from back when the Atlantic was edited by Michael Kelly, and was actually a rather good magazine.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/07/a-readers-manifesto/302270/

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 6:41 PM  

GoT should be renamed Dumber Every Week.

Anonymous MidnightSun July 24, 2017 6:52 PM  

#1

ExpLain yourself please. I just can't understand your reaction to this very helpful critique. Or maybe it's just an inside joke er something?

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 6:53 PM  

"ExpLain yourself please. I just can't understand your reaction to this very helpful critique. Or maybe it's just an inside joke er something? "

Noobs... I swear to God...

Anonymous Tipsy July 24, 2017 6:56 PM  

Wodehouse had a happy knack for metaphor:

Honoria Glossop was ‘one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a welterweight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge.’

“Some minds are like soup in a poor restaurant — better left unstirred”

“Into the face of the young man ... there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French”

Blogger Cloom Glue July 24, 2017 6:56 PM  

The comma hung between two sentences, like a long brown worm entangled with the float and splicing it to the hook, thus trolling new young surface feeders, out of sight of the deeper fish.

Anonymous A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Deplorable Cents July 24, 2017 7:08 PM  

"There she stood in the doorway with a 44. She had a gun too."

"You look like a Masonic waitwright chasing the perfect gear ratio, sugar" she said. "C'mon in and crack open a cold one before a cheetah comes and knocks you into an Liberal oubliette."

Dennis Miller could only stare after her, astonished. At long last, he had found her- his muse.

The Fat Man bowled in through the other door, his eyes glistening like cooked currents in fresh baked bread, his mouth pursed like an aged barn cat chewing a muse. "Well, sir!", he boomed like a 70 year old Rolling Stones fan, "I must say you are most remarkable! One never knows what you will say or do!" He dropped his ponderous frame into a wing chair like George R.R. Martin settling down to an all-you-can-eat buffet, i.e. with satisfied anticipation. "Tell me, sir", he queried, "Has she flipped the bird to you yet?"

Anonymous CitizenOutkast July 24, 2017 7:11 PM  

MidnightSun wrote:#1

ExpLain yourself please. I just can't understand your reaction to this very helpful critique. Or maybe it's just an inside joke er something?


You've obviously never been in the (space) Marines.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents July 24, 2017 7:12 PM  

Cormac McCarthy,

There are contests to write badly in the style of Hemingway.
Nobody will ever create a "bad Cormac McCarthy" contest,.
There'd be no point. But I bet he could win a "Bad Hemingway" contest without breaking a sweat.

Blogger MTGBalamoor July 24, 2017 7:15 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger MTGBalamoor July 24, 2017 7:16 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger MTGBalamoor July 24, 2017 7:18 PM  

I can accept questionable metaphors from pulp authors like Mickey Spillane...that's kinda the point. it's when the authors are narcissistic, that makes it even more cringe-worthy. Examples are Patrick (I am a literary God you peasant!) Rothfuss , George Rape Rape Martin, and J.K. (I never met an adjective I didn't like) Rowling.

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 7:26 PM  

The face like a tornado doesn't bother me at all. Its like poetry. Its not supposed to make sense it is supposed to cause an emotional response and trigger your imagination.

It does that.

At least it does it for me. But hey.. I'm the wrong guy to ask.. because "Hit him like a cheetah" made sense to me too.

Anonymous Mr. Rational July 24, 2017 7:31 PM  

@32  Try "nomesayin?" or "you feel me?"  (I have officially watched too many interviews with Africans-in-America.  If I never see one again it will be too soon.)

BTW, is the similarity to the Bad Hemingway Contest accidental or deliberate?

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 7:33 PM  

"face like a tornado" was a lazy shortcut. Which is to say, how Stephen King writes. The amazing thing is how he writes gigantic schlockfests while being so lazy.

Blogger Lazarus July 24, 2017 7:39 PM  

Ugly as a mud fence

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 7:42 PM  

'"face like a tornado" was a lazy shortcut'

you mean like Rock Me Like A Hurricane?

Blogger weka July 24, 2017 7:43 PM  

Re editing style:
It is the Linus Torvalds school of editing... This code sucks --> you are too short for this ride, leave.

It is clear, precise, direct, and will make petals and unicorns weep.

I approve.

Blogger maniacprovost July 24, 2017 7:48 PM  

"Across the Donkey Bridge: Memoirs of a Finnish Marine" would go over like a lead zipper.

Blogger David The Good July 24, 2017 7:48 PM  

Nate wrote:'"face like a tornado" was a lazy shortcut'

you mean like Rock Me Like A Hurricane?


Or like the allegory of the people in the cave by the Greek guy.

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 8:06 PM  

Her bosoms heaved like the sobs of men freed from Plato's Cave by a mysterious earthquake.

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 8:07 PM  

"Or like the allegory of the people in the cave by the Greek guy."

Gold.

Pure gold.

Anonymous Roundtine July 24, 2017 8:07 PM  

She had a face that could launch 1000 gas chamber memes.

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 8:08 PM  

"Her bosoms heaved like the sobs of men freed from Plato's Cave by a mysterious earthquake."

ACTCHUALLY... earthquakes feel more like a roll than a heave.

Blogger Brian Niemeier July 24, 2017 8:09 PM  

Dan Brown is notorious for using nonsensical metaphors.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/dont-make-fun-of-renowned-dan-brown/

Blogger S1AL July 24, 2017 8:10 PM  

I agree with Nate on the "hit me like a cheetah" but, though I've also been bowled over by a decently-sized dog that I didn't see coming - and yes, it's both surprising and rather painful. Like the mouth-mouse metaphor.

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 8:11 PM  

Nate confirmed as only reading the first and last few words of sentences.

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 8:13 PM  

"July 24, 2017 8:10 PM
I agree with Nate on the "hit me like a cheetah" but, though I've also been bowled over by a decently-sized dog that I didn't see coming - and yes, it's both surprising and rather painful. Like the mouth-mouse metaphor."

People with protection dogs and hunting dogs understand this metaphor instantly. Because its the language we use. "That dog is a hitter" is literally a phrase I have used in conversations.

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 8:14 PM  

"Nate confirmed as only reading the first and last few words of sentences."

no... I was just making a pedantic ironic joke. hence the "ACTCHUALLY"

Blogger weka July 24, 2017 8:17 PM  

@Nate. An earthquake does not feel like a roll. Above six on the Richter scale the better description is like a truck hitting a building.

Blogger Nate July 24, 2017 8:17 PM  

BUT IS THE TRAIN FINE???

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 8:18 PM  

Behold, ye mighty, how a thread about bad similes devolves into spergery.

Anonymous Roundtine July 24, 2017 8:25 PM  

He quickly ran down the alley, like OJ trying to get home after a double murder.

He was easily frightened, like a Somali cop in Minnesota.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 24, 2017 8:27 PM  

47. Markku July 24, 2017 5:31 PM
Interesting, we also have "aasinsilta" which literally translates to Donkey Bridge.



this is why we will put Fins in the oven last.

there is yet a bit of the Master Race in you.


satirically, Vox has never claimed to be an Alpha, declaimed the ignorant baboon.

Blogger Michael Maier July 24, 2017 8:31 PM  

RedSector wrote:"There she stood in the doorway with a 44. She had a gun too."

"You look like a Masonic waitwright chasing the perfect gear ratio, sugar" she said. "C'mon in and crack open a cold one before a cheetah comes and knocks you into an Liberal oubliette."

Dennis Miller could only stare after he, astonished. At long last, he had found her- his muse.


Ye Gods... that's perfect. I always hated Dennis Miller's smug pretentiousosity.

"I'm so clever, I pull obscure references out of my ass and love the confused looks on my audience's faces."

Hey, suck it, Dennis.

I swear, the dipshit broad that wrote 50 SHADES is a Dennis Miller fan.

Anonymous Kudos The Lexecutioner July 24, 2017 8:40 PM  

As Paul Anka said: "When I move, I slice like a fucking hammer."

Truer words were never spoken.

Now, as Doc the stuttering, Tourette's-suffering bartender from the movie The Boondock Saints said: "Make like a tree, and le-le-le-le get the fuck out of here."

Blogger maniacprovost July 24, 2017 8:43 PM  

"I swear, the dipshit broad that wrote 50 SHADES is a Dennis Miller fan."

A hundred monkeys humping 100 typewriters will, statistically, write a novel better than 50 Shades sooner than GRRM will finish Game of Thrones.

Blogger Michael Maier July 24, 2017 8:47 PM  

I swear that that twat put references in elementary-school-level writing that she must have found in the index of her Lit Crit 101 class. It was LITERALLY painful to read that swill.

Blogger weka July 24, 2017 8:53 PM  

Nate. The trains are not fine. Multiple slips have destroyes the tracks and some of the tracks are still underwater.

(Floods over weekend. Earthquake last year, and I live in a geologically stable part of New Zealand).

Anonymous Mr. Rational July 24, 2017 8:54 PM  

What do we have here?
The best VD thread ever:
Odes to Hemingway.

Blogger Lazarus July 24, 2017 9:06 PM  

Mr. Rational wrote:Odes to Hemingway.

The old man had gone 80 days without masturbating.

OpenID paworldandtimes July 24, 2017 9:13 PM  

Don't say you're easy on me
You're about as easy as a nuclear war

Blogger Were-Puppy July 24, 2017 9:14 PM  

He trolled the website like two short buses racing on a gravel track.

Blogger Fenris Wulf July 24, 2017 9:26 PM  

I'll just leave this here...
http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2016win.html

Blogger Cail Corishev July 24, 2017 9:30 PM  

"Face like a tornado" gives me the image of different emotions flashing across her face. I wouldn't have given that one a second thought, but maybe that's because we have tornadoes around here. From the comments, apparently it's more open to interpretation than I thought.

But the mouse thing is just bizarre. I assumed from the first line that he meant something along the lines of, "like he just swallowed a bug." He was smiling, and suddenly realized he'd bitten into something strange, so his face froze into a rictus. Weird, but okay, and I didn't even consider it could mean anything else. But then the next three lines didn't make any sense at all, and I didn't realize until I'd read Kalsi's explanation twice that the author was going for something completely different. Wow.

Blogger tz July 24, 2017 10:08 PM  

But it is a problem on the top end too. Vox has mentioned one of his writers sends him to the dictionary, and he is hardly weak in his vocabulary. That and deep references to some argot specific to a trade, or anachronistic usage (think writing completely in KJV 1611 english), or even using a huge vocabulary.

Communication is the window where one axis is the common vocabulary - the words both understand correctly (and not words that might have secondary definitions in a different space or time), but also the common culture. If your audience knows the Bible, biblical references make perfect sense. If they don't know it, an allusion will cause confusion. Sometimes you have to use popular culture - most people have seen Marvel universe movies.

This is not "dumbing down". A great intellect from europe who speaks little english will only understand those words you have in common. And those bits of culture that are in common.

Letting someone into your mind is an act of charity. Too many complain about the accomidations even though they are seeking shelter in a storm.

Blogger Vikki Wilson July 24, 2017 10:14 PM  

"Face like a tornado" makes sense to me - an angry, dark mass on the horizon. There are a quite few of us guilty of having a face like a tornado on occassion.
"the mouse' is just funny as it goes from believable to absurd with repetition.

Blogger SirHamster July 24, 2017 10:17 PM  

Cail Corishev wrote:But the mouse thing is just bizarre. I assumed from the first line that he meant something along the lines of, "like he just swallowed a bug." He was smiling, and suddenly realized he'd bitten into something strange, so his face froze into a rictus. Weird, but okay, and I didn't even consider it could mean anything else. But then the next three lines didn't make any sense at all, and I didn't realize until I'd read Kalsi's explanation twice that the author was going for something completely different. Wow.

The four lines made some sense to me, so I had to reread Vox's post a few times to get why it should be considered bad writing. (mouse in mouth -> cat catching mouse)

Makes me think that there is a cultural element here on how our brains are trained to fill in the gaps, and when our brains think it's okay to leave those gaps.

Blogger DJ|Bonky July 24, 2017 10:21 PM  

Good god almighty. I'm so glad you wrote this post. I'm in the middle of the last third of a Zombie omnibus that's entertaining brain candy, but I lost my mind yesterday when reading three separate similes that made no sense at all. I thought maybe it was a Canadian thing I just didn't understand. It was terribly annoying.

Blogger RobertDWood July 24, 2017 10:22 PM  

You must be new here. Vd is not an alpha nor claims to be such.

Anonymous soutlan July 24, 2017 10:29 PM  

The thread was full of win, like a Twinkie.

Blogger RobertDWood July 24, 2017 10:35 PM  

In a thread of championship caliber comments, you win. Lol.

Anonymous A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents July 24, 2017 10:36 PM  

The old man had gone 80 days without masturbating.

He was still waiting for his global warming simulator to compile. It was a good program. A long program. A GUI, some object-oriented IO. A program that even used FORTRAN for some critical parts. Ultimately, though, the success of the compile would come to the old man and C.

Blogger SteelPalm July 24, 2017 10:41 PM  

Great topic...but Philip Jose Farmer?! He barely even used metaphors or similes in his writing, let alone elaborate ones, let alone bad ones. His descriptions were generally sparse.

@11 A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents

Two 1970's authors that I made the mistake of reading once. Now I know why both of them were too annoying to waste time on.

I can't speak to Piers Anthony, but you are making a huge mistake avoiding Farmer's work. He is easily one of the greatest science fiction writers ever. Wouldn't call him a 70's writer, either.

Anonymous Mr. Rational July 24, 2017 10:44 PM  

"She had a face like a tornado:  dark, swirling with emotions, and guaranteed to chew up and spit out anything which got within its influence."

Wait, that might be a good one.

"She had a face like a 22-yr-old, blond, smiling tornado."

There.

Blogger weka July 24, 2017 10:52 PM  

He was still waiting for his global warming simulator to compile. It was a good program. A long program. A GUI, some object-oriented IO. A program that even used FORTRAN for some critical parts. Ultimately, though, the success of the compile would come to the old man and C.

Ouch.
You missed including visual basic for the pain.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 24, 2017 11:02 PM  

Unless and until education goes back to grammar, classical languages, and classical literature, I expect writing to get worse and worse.

I chuckled the other day when I was re-reading the first part of the Chronicles of Amber. At one point Corwin thinks to himself, "Whom did I know?" So not only did Zelazny know how to use "whom" correctly, but he assumed a badass warrior/magician/prince would do so too, even to himself, and that it wouldn't sound odd or pretentious to the reader.

We've come a long way.

Blogger tublecane July 24, 2017 11:08 PM  

@18-Did Hemingway ever read the Iliad? That has better battle scenes than For Whom the Bell Tolls or anything he wrote, and it features more like a hundred similes. They're so well known that there's a literary term called "Homeric simile."

Then again, Homer never wrote it down. Maybe the similes were added as in the game of telephone, and the original version was Hemingway-esque.

Then again again, Hemingway didn't write epic poetry, and no one else does anymore, either.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 24, 2017 11:09 PM  

weka wrote:@Nate. An earthquake does not feel like a roll. Above six on the Richter scale the better description is like a truck hitting a building.
Having ridden out an 8.1 quake, it was more like being on a flatbed trailer with ruined shocks doing 80mph over a plowed field.

While dodging artillery.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 24, 2017 11:10 PM  

weka wrote:You missed including visual basic for the pain.
You misspelled JavaScript.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 24, 2017 11:13 PM  

Cail Corishev wrote:At one point Corwin thinks to himself, "Whom did I know?" So not only did Zelazny know how to use "whom" correctly, but he assumed a badass warrior/magician/prince would do so too, even to himself, and that it wouldn't sound odd or pretentious to the reader.
Whom is wrong in this case. The pronoun should be nominative, "who", not objective "whom".
Whom is correct when used as the object, either direct or indirect, in a sentence. Who did what to whom.
Or, to quote Lenin
"The question is who, whom."

Blogger Silly but True July 24, 2017 11:17 PM  

"We've come a long way."

Y'all think the President'chall transcripts include "Cheddah," "Nawww, we straight," or "y'all?"
https://youtu.be/30-lYueJivk

Anonymous LurkingPuppy July 24, 2017 11:18 PM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:Cail Corishev wrote:At one point Corwin thinks to himself, "Whom did I know?" So not only did Zelazny know how to use "whom" correctly, but he assumed a badass warrior/magician/prince would do so too, even to himself, and that it wouldn't sound odd or pretentious to the reader.
Whom is wrong in this case. The pronoun should be nominative, "who", not objective "whom".

“Whom” feels wrong here, but it is the object. (“I” is the subject.)

Blogger tublecane July 24, 2017 11:24 PM  

Piers Anthony was my introduction to fantasy as a kid, and I read like 12 of the Xanth series and liked it. But I also didn't read any other fantasy until I was an adult and felt it my duty to give Lord of the Rings and Conan a try. So maybe it wasn't the best introduction.

If I went back and read them now they'd probably make me wince.

Anonymous Wooly July 24, 2017 11:25 PM  

This isn't simile or metaphor, I know, but I remember way back when I was into Anne Rice's series novels (Witches ones and Vampire ones), I noticed after reading about six or so books that she was addicted to using the word "preternatural", to the point where one could get drunk in 2 chapters if its use was made into a drinking game. I think I quit reading her because of that one word, and it's preternatural repetition throughout her works.

Blogger tublecane July 24, 2017 11:29 PM  

@147-That reminds me of someone's description of Ayn Rand's characters, who all know the word "bromide." But English wasn't Rand's first language, and maybe she learned that word early, fell in love with it, and couldn't let go.

She also overuses words like "egotist," but that's dictated by her philosophy. (Or "philosophy.")

Blogger Cail Corishev July 24, 2017 11:32 PM  

Whom is wrong in this case.

No. Diagram the sentence, or turn the question into a statement: "I did know whom." "I" is the subject, "whom" is the direct object.

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 11:34 PM  

SteelPalm wrote:I can't speak to Piers Anthony, but you are making a huge mistake avoiding Farmer's work. He is easily one of the greatest science fiction writers ever. Wouldn't call him a 70's writer, either.

Farmer was a talentless hack who couldn't think up an interesting and believable original character to save his soul. Hence the Riverworld books---shit, hence 75% of his oeuvre. The only original characters from Riverworld I remember are the lisping gigantopithecus, the ugly ginger lesbian, and the crazy bitch who tries to murder them all at the end. (I don't count his TWO Mary Sues).

Barnstormer in Oz. Numerous Tarzan pastiches. Craptacular.

What Philip Jose Farmer DID memorably write was perversion and blasphemy. In his collection of short stories titled something something Riverworld, in which Jesus finds out he was wrong about being the son of God, the other memorable tales involve an old codger in a nursing home running around naked and accidentally penetrating Nurse Ratched, and also Beelzebub having two giant phalluses which he used to satisfy his groupies.

In short PJF was a disgusting, perverted, and unoriginal writer. It is thus no surprise that SteelPalm, a Jew, defends him.

Anonymous Raker Tooth July 24, 2017 11:38 PM  

Some things you never forget
As soon as I sat in the last bench of the little yellow bus,
I saw her.
the HOTTEST Neanderthal chick EVER.
A body slick as a Zephyr coach,
A jawline like a locomotive.
Neanderthal chicks are the hottest!

Anonymous Brick Hardslab July 24, 2017 11:43 PM  

He wrote one book that was so perverted I still flinch when I think of him.

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 11:44 PM  

Which one, Brick?

(BTW, have you read any Gene Wolfe?)

Blogger tublecane July 24, 2017 11:47 PM  

This issue is covered by Orwell in Politics and the English Language, more or less. He was speaking of dead metaphors and tired cliches. People lazily spit out things they heard other people say without thinking about what they actually mean. You can tell a lot, maybe most, writers use visual similes and metaphors without envisioning them in their own minds.

For instance, Orwell mentions the "hammer and anvil" cliche. People in his day started thinking of the anvil as getting the worse of it, for some reason. Which is ridiculous if you've ever actually held a hammer in your hand and hit an anvil with it.

Our rhetorical cliches are full of stuff writers don't do anymore. You know, like farming, sailing, or for that matter any work one does with his hands. Consequently, they don't understand old metaphors and similes based on such activities. They couldn't envision them even if they wanted. Not that they want to.

This applies to novel figures of speech, as well. If no one ever thought of comparing a face to a tornado, at least you're avoiding a cliche. But who here thinks King actually had the mental image of a face-tornado in his mind's eye? Probably just some words he typed.

We have to come up with figures of speech connected to our real daily activities. Which for me would be mostly sitting around brooding. But someone, somewhere, is doing something. Let him invent similes!

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother July 24, 2017 11:48 PM  

SteelPalm,

If a jew is insulted in a forest...

wait no...

If a Jew is insulted and you aren't there to defend him, is he still going to be insulted?

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 11:50 PM  

Wait. Was PJF a Jew?

ahahahahaha

Blogger Matthew July 24, 2017 11:53 PM  

tublecane wrote:For instance, Orwell mentions the "hammer and anvil" cliche. People in his day started thinking of the anvil as getting the worse of it, for some reason. Which is ridiculous if you've ever actually held a hammer in your hand and hit an anvil with it.

When I hear that, I think of one of the best episode of The Prisoner.

Blogger tublecane July 24, 2017 11:54 PM  

@83-That article was expanded into a book, which I read. It was fantastic, though I would've enjoyed it more had I read more of the authors he skewered than McCarthy and Delillo (and Delillo only briefly). He has an unforgettable takedown of McCarthy on eating a tortilla and horse digestion.

Blogger Thucydides July 25, 2017 12:41 AM  

Most mind blowing thread ever. I probably relearned more about English grammar (and crazy similes and metaphors) than ever reading a textbook. My only regret is John C Wright didn't chime in with something astonishing like his short "Treehouse" story.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 25, 2017 12:41 AM  

141. Snidely Whiplash July 24, 2017 11:09 PM
While dodging artillery.



well that's not so bad.

it's when you start dodging artillery UNSUCCESSFULLY that it really starts to hurt.

Blogger MendoScot July 25, 2017 12:41 AM  

I vote for the cat.

Blogger Feather Blade July 25, 2017 12:50 AM  

Mr. Rational wrote:"She had a face like a 22-yr-old, blond, smiling tornado."

Now I'm having flashbacks to Final Fantasy III (or VI if you didn't have a SNES).

tublecane wrote:Our rhetorical cliches are full of stuff writers don't do anymore. ... Consequently, they don't understand old metaphors and similes based on such activities.

It helps when the phrases aren't abbreviated, like the old standard "Happy as a clam..." Is missing half of the idea "...at high tide." At which point you have to know anything about clamming.

Anonymous Deplorable Winning July 25, 2017 12:59 AM  

Cail Corishev wrote:"Face like a tornado" gives me the image of different emotions flashing across her face.

And all this suction for only $20, cash.

Anonymous Deplorable Winning July 25, 2017 1:00 AM  

Matthew wrote:When I hear that, I think of one of the best episode of The Prisoner.

Please to explain?

Blogger Sterling Pilgrim July 25, 2017 1:06 AM  

"Like a flaccid penis, he laid his clothes down on the empty bed." These are fun! Anyone can write like a Tor author now!

Blogger SteelPalm July 25, 2017 1:08 AM  

@150

Farmer was a talentless hack who couldn't think up an interesting and believable original character to save his soul. Hence the Riverworld books---shit, hence 75% of his oeuvre. The only original characters from Riverworld I remember are the lisping gigantopithecus, the ugly ginger lesbian, and the crazy bitch who tries to murder them all at the end. (I don't count his TWO Mary Sues).

Considering Riverworld mainly uses famous historical figures as its characters, this is a phenomenally idiotic criticism.

But what can one expect from a Swastika Panty monomaniac whose every response to a reply of mine is some variation of "JEW!!!!"?

What Philip Jose Farmer DID memorably write was perversion and blasphemy.

If PJ Farmer, who is very mild, never used curse words and never wrote explicit sex scenes, offends your delicate sensibilities, God forbid you ever read George Rape Rape Martin, Haruki Murakami (a favorite writer of myself and Vox), or half the great writers of the 20th century.

In short PJF was a disgusting, perverted, and unoriginal writer. It is thus no surprise that SteelPalm, a Jew, defends him.

Alternatively, being a Jew, I am much smarter and have a better appreciation of literature than you. And don't dismiss great writers for the blitheringly imbecilic reasons you have.

But again, leave it to a Swastika Panty monomaniac to obsess about Jews on a literature post.

@155 Sgt58/Animal Mother

SteelPalm,

If a jew is insulted in a forest...

wait no...

If a Jew is insulted and you aren't there to defend him, is he still going to be insulted?


I have no clue what you're referring to here. PJ Farmer was not Jewish.

Blogger Sterling Pilgrim July 25, 2017 1:08 AM  

Society simply doesn't understand comparisons anymore, especially metaphorical/symbolic ones. For example:
"Refugees are the pit-bulls of the human world, some are good, most can turn on a dime and bite the scrotum off of a toddler"
"Oh my she-gods did you just call refugees dogs!? You BIGOT!"

Blogger Ingot9455 July 25, 2017 1:22 AM  

@164 The episode 'Hammer Into Anvil' of course. Be seeing you.

Blogger Sterling Pilgrim July 25, 2017 1:24 AM  

Beware, tender hearts! Don’t you know where tenderness leads? To the gas chambers. Never in the history of the world have there been so many civilized tenderhearted souls as have lived in this century. Never in the history of the world have so many people been killed. More people have been killed in this century by tenderhearted souls than by cruel barbarians in all other centuries put together. My brothers, let me tell you where tenderness leads. To the gas chambers! On with the jets! Walker Percy

Blogger Student in Blue July 25, 2017 2:00 AM  

@162. Feather Blade
Now I'm having flashbacks to Final Fantasy III (or VI if you didn't have a SNES).

You're thinking of FFII(US)/FFIV(J). Valvalis, the blonde lady who turned into a tornado.

Of course the translators had no clue it was supposed to be translated as Barbariccia, to go ahead with the also-mangled-names of Rubicante (Rubicant), Cagnazzo (Kainazzo), and Scarmiglione (Milon???).

Blogger Feather Blade July 25, 2017 2:06 AM  

@170 Argh. You're right; thanks for the correction.

I think part of the translation problem was the character-quantity limits on battle menu names.

Anonymous SciVo de Plorable July 25, 2017 2:10 AM  

Mr. Rational wrote:@32  Try "nomesayin?" or "you feel me?"  (I have officially watched too many interviews with Africans-in-America.  If I never see one again it will be too soon.)

I prefer to transcribe it as "gnome sane," because at least those are words.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab July 25, 2017 2:19 AM  

@Matthew, I don't remember the name but it had a parasite type worm that hid in a woman's vagina. I have read Wolfe and I love him. He is the only living guy I would compare to Wright.

Blogger pdwalker July 25, 2017 2:26 AM  

Best laughs i've had all week, starting with comment @1.

Thank you all.

Anonymous Aspiring Author July 25, 2017 2:29 AM  

That's one of the things I appreciated in Sanderson's Steelheart series - he makes fun of this tendency in authors by having his main character make obviously bad puns and similes and the other characters make fun of him for it.

Anonymous Shut up rabbit July 25, 2017 2:46 AM  

My Dead Gramps wrote:Speaking of bad writing, the latest 'epic' (naval) battle in GoT. Sheesh

I quit GOT cold turkey after this season's first episode:

"The kingdom is at risk! We must teach all the little girls to fight! Come forth children and swear the fealty of you and your classmates."

The men's job in a defensive war is to protect the women and children, not to send them to the front lines.

Guess I'll miss the climatic battle when it turns out the white walkers can be killed by pulling their hair or calling them mean names.

Anonymous I didn't get this, therefore it is bad July 25, 2017 2:53 AM  

Editors commenting about authors are like producers commenting about music. Mostly because editors are producers, and if they were otherwise they'd have sweeter rides and more slavish followers on popular social media platforms.

Editors are the peer review of literature.

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 25, 2017 2:54 AM  

Remember when Mark Twain and Richard Burton learn to speak Jive in Riverworld?

Blogger tublecane July 25, 2017 2:55 AM  

@176-It's as if they forget that mankind needs not only to win the Great Existential War against the Zombie Army and survive the Long Night and the really bad winter, but to procreate in the meantime. That way, you won't fight, win, then say, "Oh, crap, all the fertile females are dead. Whoops. Whaddo we do now? Kill time until we're all dead?"

Walk Dead has the same problem. Like two characters got pregnant, and one was still fighting in the front lines. What do these people think they're gonna do when they're 70? I guess the teenager, Carl, and his baby sister are gonna be on bedpan duty for their entire civilization.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 25, 2017 3:04 AM  

Except that the verb "to be" in English doesn't render its object into objecive case. As in "It is I" rather than "It is me", the object retains nominative case.

Anonymous Who, whom is now a meme, not a grammatical construct July 25, 2017 3:11 AM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:Except that the verb "to be" in English doesn't render its object into objecive case. As in "It is I" rather than "It is me", the object retains nominative case.

"That is motion towards, isn't it boy?"

Anonymous Jack July 25, 2017 3:27 AM  

Shitlords and grammarians, together at last! An unstoppable force meets an immovable object, like a cheetah hitting a ... nevermind.

Anonymous On the bright side, VD invented AI, just ask him July 25, 2017 3:36 AM  

A brilliant Timelord meets an unimpeachable historical record like a cheetah operating an iPad, the cheetah doesn't have the password for the iPad.

Did you ever discover that similes don't translate well over time?

Outside of spellchecking, that's where editors should shine. Otherwise they're deadweight.

Anonymous Bz July 25, 2017 4:06 AM  

"If PJ Farmer, who is very mild, never used curse words and never wrote explicit sex scenes, offends your delicate sensibilities,"

Really. What about A Feast Unknown, The Lovers or Image of the Beast/Blown? Or several others. (Amazon's blurb: '[Farmer] is best known for being the author who introduced sex into science fiction in 1952 with his groundbreaking novella "The Lovers"'.) Basically disturbing and sleazy fantasies as far as I'm concerned, and intentionally written to be that.

With that said, Farmer also wrote some favorites of mine and used his powerful imagination for more conventional but iconic SF/F, like Riverworld or World of Tiers or, in the end, his Tarzan work. Lately, I have most frequently returned to his less well-known Khokarsa books, in particular the somewhat awkward but powerful Time's Last Gift.

Blogger VD July 25, 2017 4:11 AM  

Editors commenting about authors are like producers commenting about music. Mostly because editors are producers, and if they were otherwise they'd have sweeter rides and more slavish followers on popular social media platforms. Editors are the peer review of literature.

Except, of course, that this editor happens to be an author who has written more books than many of his authors.

Blogger SteelPalm July 25, 2017 4:23 AM  

@184 Bz

Really. What about A Feast Unknown, The Lovers or Image of the Beast/Blown?

Heh, I wrote about A Feast Unknown in a column at the Castalia House blog. It was utterly unique in Farmer's 50-odd year career due to circumstances surrounding his life and career at the time.

http://www.castaliahouse.com/son-of-the-pulps-part-2-farmers-tarzans/

Even then, there is no cursing or graphically described sex.

Lately, I have most frequently returned to his less well-known Khokarsa books, in particular the somewhat awkward but powerful Time's Last Gift.

Yeah, I'm a huge fan of Time's Last Gift myself, as noted in that same column.

Anonymous As it happens, I liked Psykosonik. July 25, 2017 4:25 AM  

VD wrote:Editors commenting about authors are like producers commenting about music. Mostly because editors are producers, and if they were otherwise they'd have sweeter rides and more slavish followers on popular social media platforms. Editors are the peer review of literature.

Except, of course, that this editor happens to be an author who has written more books than many of his authors.


I compared editors to producers.

Your move.

Anonymous LurkingPuppy July 25, 2017 4:55 AM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:Except that the verb "to be" in English doesn't render its object into objecive case. As in "It is I" rather than "It is me", the object retains nominative case.
The sentence was “Whom did I know?”. “to know” is not “to be”.

Anonymous JamesV July 25, 2017 5:36 AM  

I'm going to start using "hit him like a cheetah" and other derivations.

Hit me like a ton of cheetahs.
As easy as a falling of a cheetah.
Handed that off like a hot cheetah.
At the drop of a cheetah.
Your cheetah is up the wrong tree.
The cheetah is in your court.
Hit the cheetah on the head.
Kill two cheetahs with one stone.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable July 25, 2017 5:46 AM  

Cheetahs never prosper?

Blogger Desdichado July 25, 2017 7:30 AM  

It could be said that bad metaphors have no chili.

Anonymous London Derriere July 25, 2017 7:52 AM  

"Whom is wrong in this case."

Damn. You missed an opportunity to say 'Whom is the wrong case in this case.'

"The pronoun should be nominative, "who", not objective "whom".
Whom is correct when used as the object, either direct or indirect, in a sentence."

To which the reply:

Whom is wrong in this case. The pronoun should be nominative, "who", not objective "whom".

“Whom” feels wrong here, but it is the object. (“I” is the subject.)"


Trouble is, you're both right. English grammar is notoriously loose, so there are exceptions for common usage and also sometimes for, 'if it sounds better.

"Do you know him?" is grammatically correct.
"It is I!" is incorrect, but sounds better, thus the preferred usage.

English is a writer's and speaker's language, not a grammarian's, like a muffin on a tightrope.

Anonymous London Derriere July 25, 2017 7:57 AM  

Also, a "badass warrior" could shift grammatical gears, even in his thoughts, from the pedant to the street brawler.

Also, a tin teardrop.

Blogger Ken Prescott July 25, 2017 8:04 AM  

I remember telling my daughter that if she gripped the steering wheel any harder, black juice would squirt out.

She didn't appreciate the simile...

Anonymous London Derriere July 25, 2017 8:16 AM  

Actually, now I think of it, "It is I," is grammatically correct, because the verb 'to be' is intransitive. But still, you nomesayin. (To which I usually reply, Actually, no, I don't.)

Anonymous Koanic July 25, 2017 8:17 AM  

Nobody likes a bad metaphor. They're simile.

Anonymous London Derriere July 25, 2017 8:18 AM  

He corrected his prior error, like a lizard on a windowpane.

Blogger Duke Norfolk July 25, 2017 8:20 AM  

Sterling Pilgrim wrote:Society simply doesn't understand comparisons anymore, especially metaphorical/symbolic ones.

So true. Of course some of them truly are that stupid, and some are just being dishonest and intentionally obtuse.

Blogger Duke Norfolk July 25, 2017 8:22 AM  

pdwalker wrote:Best laughs i've had all week, starting with comment @1.



Yes. To have the thread winner (arguably, of course) at #1 is quite the accomplishment.

Anonymous Koanic July 25, 2017 8:36 AM  

> Great advice. I owe you a blowjob.

Scalzi believes that to get, you have to give.

And to get ahead, you have to give head.

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