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Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 7th, 2009, 7:32 pm
by J.Jessamyn
Please excuse the crappy title.

Now, normally forums are a breeding ground for vile things such as horrible spelling, grammar fitting for a 5 year-old, and where punctuation apparently just cannot survive (because I almost never see any). I haven't been on any other writing forums, but I was wondering (and hoping) that these things would be much better here since I'm assuming several of us write. Yes? No? Maybe?

And also on the more philosophical, deep-thinking side of things, would that put us under more pressure in a way to make sure that we writer-forumers write well in our posts? I mean, we're all human and we're going to make writing mistakes in our posts, but wouldn't it be a turn-off to see someone mix up their/there/they're or something along those lines? Or should this kind of place be somewhere that we can relax and take our hair down and not really care so much?

There. I killed about fifteen minutes writing this post. Yay me.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 7th, 2009, 8:36 pm
by Matera_the_Mad
Your fondest hopes and mine. However I hang around in several writers' fora and reality gets grungy in the big ones. Txt kiddies who suddenly want to write a novel after being inspired by movies and games...oy. One of a foruming writer's assumed responsibilities is educating the poor wretches, or at least providing a good example.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 12:25 am
by Chazz
Feel free to be good examples, by all means! Pour over every post and worry about every comma and clause. Eschew sentence fragments and feel really good! You can even try to freeze the language and mutter over split infinitives if you want. Hold yourselves to the highest standards and revel in it. I salute you. You are better--no, magnificent people. The righteous who are so brave as to turn their magnifying glasses upon themselves are as machiattos sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon.

As for the pleasures of scolding of others, however, that's a horse of a different planet. I've known several good writers (and an aquisitions editor) who either can't spell or have their own system of typing which is less than accurate. My first drafts are riddled with typos because I opted for the academic credit (poli-sci) in high school instead of the much more useful typing class. I've tried learning to type properly but, lacking skill and patience, I soon fall back on my peculiar spider-fingered style. A bad habit, yes, though I am a professional writer so I got past the handicap. (I've made peace with never knowing the heights of Asimov's output.)

Your question reminded me of a glorious day when a blogger wrote a wonderful post. An exquisitely cranky pedagogue complained of a single typo, missing the much larger point by about two football fields and an aircraft carrier. "Persian flaw," she replied, unperturbed.

Sure, many of us are writers and writers make mistakes. We're like normal humans if you look closely, as the OP mentioned. We also make choices that are not mistakes but may appear to be. (For instance, I have been corrected without invitation on my usage of affect versus effect . The high school teacher who was doing the univited correcting was poisoning the local generation of youth with misinformation I can assure you. (I'm also a former proofreader.)

There are many fine books which flout traditional grammarians because authors, editors and (even) some copy editors know that consistency and the facilitated conveyance of ideas sometimes trumps even the admirable E.B. White, who once, apparently intoxicated by his own maginficence, proclaimed studentry superior to student body. Yeah. Right. (Ack! Sentence fragment! My world is now chaos! Auuugh! Thump! Gurgle.)

I'd suggest perfectionism is not only a moving target but also self-hatred. (Okay, sometimes it's hatred of others, too.) I'll never forget winning a major short story prize and foolishly dashing off an e-mail to friends and family in utter happiness. Many were full of congratulations and made the right noises. Two people--the ones I remember for their betrayal--noticed that in my haste I had used "their" instead of "they're." That is what drew them to write back, not to share my joy but to correct me and make my happiness less than utter. Oh, what hilarious irony! Hilarious to them. They felt good about helping me out, witling that I was.

Correction: the interlopers felt good about it for a short time. It's a mistake to mess with a horror writer. (Note: lime does not work nearly as well as many people think it does.)

I kid! I kid because I love!

Seriously, though. "Foruming"?

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 12:29 am
by Chazz
PS What I'm saying is, please refrain from educating me for free and please don't call me a "poor wretch." I upset easily.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 9:21 am
by Scott
I forum a lot, and found when I started it helped make my prose more accessible and tricked-out my vocabulary. Later, I noticed it began to over-colloquialize my prose. Now I have a "forum off" switch. Conversational prose has it's time and place.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 6:18 pm
by Tzalaran
There are plenty of venues that cater to the txt/leetspeek crowd, and i don't think this site will be in their field of vision.

as far as the flame wars go, that is usually more to the discretion of the admin of the site. in my forums, i don't allow them and am happy to delete inflammatory posts (there is a large difference between respectful disagreement and flaming), but others like to take the freedom of speech angle and allow a free for all. From what i've seen, i think this forum will fall along the lines of respectful disagreement.

i generally attempt to have proper writing in forum posts, even when that is not the normally accepted form. When in a hurry and posting, i'll make mistakes and don't let it bother me, just editing later when i notice the errors.

For the record, i don't capitalize 'i' for a reason. no need to point it out to me. ;)

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 6:30 pm
by J.Jessamyn
Chazz wrote:Seriously, though. "Foruming"?
In my own defense, I did say to please excuse the title :-P It was shorter than saying "participating in forums" or something to that effect. I also enjoy the amusement people get when I make up words, but it would seem that the audience here is not so amused by that type of thing. I guess I should have expected that.

I was also sleep deprived when I made that post.

So here's my opinion so I can be subjected to further embarrassment:

I rather like to relax a bit when it comes to forums (or fora, if you prefer... although I wouldn't have recognized it as the plural of "forum"). After typing and editing and pouring over my novel, it's rather nice to not obsess over something for a change. Although I do check for the big no-noes in spelling and such, I don't want to give myself a migraine over a forum post. I'm one of those people that actually has to work at this, unfortunately.

But on the other hand, I still feel it's a good idea to set a good example - at least compared to the norm, anyway. One forum I was on had several posters that never used a capital letter, any punctuation, and chocked their posts so full of cyber-abbreviations that I had no clue what they were saying.

C'mon, you have to admit that's worse than my apparent love for making up new words.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 8:54 pm
by Matera_the_Mad
Chazz wrote:Feel free to be good examples, by all means! Pour over every post and worry about every comma and clause. ... (I'm also a former proofreader.) ... Seriously, though. "Foruming"?
I would rather invent a verb than use the wrong one ;)

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 8th, 2009, 10:47 pm
by Chazz
Yes! Pour should have been pore. So much for happy but hurried posting. That was poor. And ungracious, Matera, given my request to be left alone. On the other hand, now I feel bad and I guess you feel great so you've made my point. Congratulations!

Oh yeah. Should have said this right off the bat: Persian flaw.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 9th, 2009, 2:10 am
by choculagrl
Grammar, schmammar! All I want now is the aforementioned cinnamon-dusted machiatto.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 9th, 2009, 7:13 am
by poptart

I'm as easy going as the next person but sloppy grammar and spelling annoy me A LOT because they force me to read the same thing several times to get the meaning. This is time I can ill afford to waste at my age when death is but a heartbeat away. So next time you post just think of all the old gits like me wasting their precious remaining moments trying to decypher your badly constructed sentences and misspelt words.

ps Foruming sounds like a perfectly acceptable word to me.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 9th, 2009, 8:08 am
by Hillsy
Spellign and typing are two very different things. (as proved by the mistake I made and left in to make my point.)

One is a failure of knowledge. The other is momentary loss of finger control. I am not a concert pianist (alas) so occasionally my fingers strike the wrong keys.

Also don't forget that we are not all automatons who weigh and measure each word as they come out. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to say and, in the throes of typing it out, subconsciously supplant homophones (snigger) in our haste.

Re: Foruming and our writing

Posted: December 10th, 2009, 2:39 pm
by PatriciaGrier
This is a professional forum and I would expect most of us respect ourselves well enough to write with appropriate grammar, spelling and punctuation. On the other hand, it is a forum and it wouldn't be interesting to contribute to if I felt I had to stress about the minor things my fingers do. Also, I write in forums how I speak-- or close to it. I don't always use all the rules that I would use in a more formal situation.

Bottom line? I prefer to see that the people I am writing to have a command of the English language. It doesn't have to be a perfect display, but enough so I don't have to read and re-read for meaning.