Monday, January 24, 2011

And also...

Writing—any writing—is hard for some people. Here’s a blank screen, and the assignment is to write an essay or a chapter or a book on a subject the author knows well. What to do, what to do?

Well, apparently what some authors do is cogitate for a few minutes and then think of a sentence to begin with. That sentence may, if we are lucky, convey a fact. Then the author thinks of something else to say that seems to belong to the same paragraph. This is, however, a new thought. Or perhaps the authors categorizes it as an afterthought. So he begins the second sentence with also. This process repeats, and most succeeding sentences begin with also or the semantic equivalent (for variety), too.

This is the written equivalent of the spoken run-on in which the person on the other end of the phone line (or the interview guest running over his time slot on NPR) strings forty or fifty independent clauses together with and so that the interlocutor cannot get a word in edgewise. (You’ve heard people do this. You never do it yourself, of course.)

In another variant of this authorial tic, we see remember that used to start every second or third sentence.

Okay, listen up, dammit. The reader expects succeeding sentences to convey information that is in addition to the first sentence. Also is implied automatically. And is implied automatically. We can assume that if you are writing something down to be printed in a book it is something you want the reader to remember; so you don’t have keep reminding us of that, either.

Please stop doing that. You know who you are.

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