This blog is on official hiatus for the next 32 days as I bounce around 4-5 countries and 10-15 U.S. states. Thanks to everyone who reads, and especially to everyone who subscribes. I will be back at it, every Mon-Fri, starting 8/28.
“18. Use figures of speech sparingly.
The simile is a common device and a useful one, but similes coming in rapid fire, one right on top of another, are more distracting than illuminating. Readers need time to catch their breath; they can’t be expected to compare everything with something else, and no relief in sight.”
–The Elements of Style
Or no reality in sight. Reality is the relief from the nauseous spiral of comparing everything to something that’s kind of like it, and never getting closer to what *it* actually is. If only it weren’t so gratifying to nail a simile/metaphor, to stand back and look at the new creation, still smoky from the forge.
Similes and other figurative sleights are a key battleground in the war between the writer’s self-satisfaction and the reader’s enjoyment. As long as the writer never feels entitled to the time it takes for the reader to “get” that fifty dollar metaphor, the detente we’ve been living with is manageable.
Manageable like Omarosa.
This post is an attempt to intellectually recover the twenty minutes I just lost.
That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.”
Sounds good. So what is an “essential clause”?
“An essential clause is a relative clause that limits a general, ambiguous noun.“
And a “relative clause”?
And a “noun phrase”? The whole thing is a bulbous freakin’ Matryoshka Doll. Each new discovery places you farther from the truth. But this is the way it is. We have our primary colors–subject, verb, object–and the usually tacky adjective/adverb ornaments. The blank canvas is anywhere and everywhere, we just need to find new ways to fill it.
New rules of grammar and usage can only be defined in terms of the ones that came before–I just shudder to think of how many Wikipedia clickthroughs it’s going to take writers a generation from now to hit the bedrock of what they need to know.
“It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.”
Good anything. To the millennials Franzen may be the angry old coot across the road whose house always looks better covered in toilet paper, but I dare anyone to deny the idea behind what he says up there, if not the empirical fact.
For writers, the internet sucks–in every sense of the word. It sucks willpower, sucks time, sucks quality. OK, it blows the networking game open and it makes 97 of every 100 facts in existence available at a click. Which is great–so great, the beast’s powers of distraction must be incredible to outweigh those benefits.
And they are. Do you write better or worse because of the internet? Tabbed browsing is not conducive to fully-formed ideas. It is channel surfing on amphetamines. Where is this going, where is this taking us?
I appreciate the lulz inherent in posting about this on a blog, but it’s been a long popcorn brain day I need to put to bed.