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November 16, 2006
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Guaranteed Popular Writing by phantom-inker Guaranteed Popular Writing by phantom-inker
The top ten ways you can guarantee your writing will be cool.

I wrote this up because I was sick and tired of seeing the same beginner writing mistakes over and over and over and over and... well, you get the idea. These mistakes are repeated ad nauseam even by people who ought to know better, so I decided I'd do something about it.

And no, I'm not an English teacher. I'm a degreed computer scientist --- but I'm also well-known as a grammar nazi. (I've at times been both a proscriptive grammarian and a structural linguist, so my objective here is not to correct things that intentionally deviate from standard English, but to correct things that unintentionally deviate.)

This is stored as an image so that there's no ambiguity about what I intended to say. Actually, it's designed as a printable document, and I've included a PDF version for those of you who would like to print this out for reference. This document is freely shareable. Download it, print it, share it with your friends, and maybe, just maybe, there will be a little less unreadable gibberish out there as a result.


Update, five years later: While this deviation continues to be much-loved by the literati, it's received no shortage of criticism from inexperienced writers, particularly fanfic writers. And so I will say this to those who would criticize: Before you start your complaint, read some books on writing, read some essays on writing, read Stephen King's On Writing, and make sure you know what you're talking about. Whether you like it or not, if you want your work published, if you want other authors to take notice, and if you want your readers not to toss your work aside in disgust, then correct grammar and spelling are required, plagiarism is theft, adverbs are evil, punctuation is strict, and second draft equals first draft minus ten percent.
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joyful-basilisk Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I wrote you a story. I only read the left column, but that's the important one, right?

jhnonn was a really superly duperly cool duude who rlly licked a boy named clark who was super duper sexxi and cool ^hi clark^ he said ^i lik you^ but clark could not liyk him back bcause he was.........SUPERMAN!!1! ^I AM SORRY^ he wispered *I AM SUPERMAN AND CANT DATE U^ ^THAT IS OKAY^ rplied jhnonnn ^BECAUSE I AM A SUPER SEXY COOL DRAGON MAKEUP CRYSTAL JESUS BOOK NAZI OF JOY!^ and then they banged

If I was going to criticize this list, it would simply be for the lack of a note on the evil of giant chains of ellipses (particularly with the wrong number of periods.) Ergh, they send a shiver down my spine. :I
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Also, that's a great story.  Tell me your street address so I can mail you your letterbom — I mean, mail you the proper congratulations you've earned. ;)
joyful-basilisk Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much, I spent hours weaving my words to create this delicate web. The beautiful tale of "jhnonn" and his "clark" is something that will be passed through the ages. 

I may be a little sensitive to ellipses. I revise writing for my friends, who are the kind of people who use them more than periods. "I'm just not sure........................this is" kind of bad. 
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Gah!  That's horrendous.  I forgot people could even do that, mainly because I blocked out of my memory all the times I've seen it (and worse abominations like "Uhh,,,,, okay" — and yes, those are indeed mutilated commas).

So consider "Misuse of ellipses" to be the missing eleventh entry here.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
When I created this, the goal was a top-ten list of (in my opinion) the worst offenses, not a catch-all of every possible written horror.  Improper use of ellipses is at least tolerable; whereas naming your lead character Ghffarrhga'hargh ought to be punishable by — well, if not death, at least a good beating with a cat o'nine tails.
Brisingr-Arget Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Why I have only discovered this now, I don't know.
FlameSwordedLink Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Student General Artist
Also, you could just send them to my LA teacher.
ShayLaLaLooHoo Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
They should teach this in every English class in the world.
MeTheAwesome Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Toon many fonts are never cool unless it's Geronimo Stilton.
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Great list! Although I've been reading The Road for class and there are effloads of fragments, missing punctuational marks, and no quotation marks for text... :dead: But he's Cormac McCarthy, he can do whatever he wants. I, on the other hand, can't.
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