Monthly Archives: July 2014

Blog comments policy

  1. Don’t be a dick.
  2. If you’re being a dick, I’ll delete your comment, unless maybe you’re being a really funny dick.
  3. I am the final arbiter of dickery.
  4. I will try not to be a dick myself in deciding whether you’re being a dick. No promises, though.
  5. Get over it. It’s just some guy’s blog, and he’s like kind of a dick. Anyway, do you have any idea how few people read this thing?

Passive aggression

As a guide to good writing, Kellye Crane ranks alongside George Orwell and Stephen King. By which I mean they all make the same mistake.

But before I get onto them, I want to mention William Safire.

In 1979, Safire wrote a list of ‘fumblerules of grammar’ – rules that break themselves. You can get a flavour from the first three:

Remember to never split an infinitive.

A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.

The passive voice should never be used.

And so on.

But the passive-voice fumblerule is real. Stephen King, in his 2001 book On Writing, said: “Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind.”

“Have been created”? Passive alert! But does this really make King seem timid? I don’t think so. Continue reading