Tag Archives: grammar

“If you must use your cellphone, kindly use conversive tones.”

Day Two of The MayDayChallenge finds us visiting the baristas at The Raindrop Cafe, who got something to tell us:

  • fair trade, shade grown
  • fair trade shade grown
    roasted 3 blocks from your home
    shipped in sacks from africa
    hispanic lands and sumatra
    each cup is crafted expertly
    all our milk is hormone free
    or if you dont take to dairy
    we also offer milk from beans
  • fair trade, shade grown
    & for your dog a biscuit bone
    our flavored syrups ultra pure
    evaporated cane sugar
    and if you’d like a pastry
    we buy ours from french bakeries
    except for these delicious pies
    they’re made by this one bearded guy
  • fair trade, shade grown
    our cafe, your second home
    and if you must use your cell phone
    kindly use conversive tones
    we offer high speed internet
    (don’t use it for your bit torrent)
    yes we compost & recycle
    as marked on these receptacles
  • fair trade, shade grown
    succulent, velvety foam
    we’ll top your late with a heart
    of if you like some abstract art
    we’re here before the sun is up
    especially to fill your cup
    and if you’d prefer the decaf
    we promise you we will not laugh…

This is a part of my Over The Top Non-Stop Stop Action Non-Toxic Sock Poppet Rock Opera.

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More Writing Shop-talk (boring warning!)

Here are a few words that are on my rewriting “watch list”, which I try to minimize / synonymize in each successive draft:

  • Look
  • Just
  • That
  • So, very, really
  • Something
  • Said
  • Walk
  • Actually
  • Suddenly

These words (especially just) are used often in casual conversation, so they just tend to slip in when one is first ‘telling’ the story.

But writing, imho, should actually be a grade above the casual. Also, I’ve seen a lot of first drafts where writers use double modifiers on the subject, I.E.:

The stairwell sent him quick, dark echoes…

It’s a matter of taste, but I think that the second of the two modifiers should always be an uncommon word, or else the prose comes off as really, very predictable, or something.

Most importantly: while editing, concentrate on the tone and rhythm of the narrative itself, and let all the rules and such attend to it like servants.

If all we did as artists was follow rules, then this game would have long ago been over.

we are storytellers first, and writers by way of revision


Why is you so misunderstood?

Second person is like a second world country—overlooked and under-appreciated, and no one considers themselves to be one.

But what makes second person such a despised literary form? Well, in a story, this didn’t actually happen to you, and so you’re repeatedly reminded that it is a lie, a non-truth, a fiction.

Secondly, I believe there are difficulties with the rhythm of second person. “You” repeats too often, and there really isn’t a synonym for it. The “I” has me and mine, He/She has their names, but you will always have to be you. “You look about yourself, gauging the incline of the foredeck. Something is amiss, you think, but try not to dwell on your worries, turning about to find a lifeboat, then thinking about the others. You consider searching the hold for any stragglers, when a loud crack! shatters your concentration. Just then: the great white whale rises before you.”

The third drawback is when someone, in real life, begins talking to you in second person, they are basically upstaging your own interpretations and actions, and that’s patronizing and infuriating. And they deserve a kick in the shins until they return to speaking of themselves. Even the royal we is stronger than the you.

But—despite all this, I don’t think you should be dismissed out of hand. There’s something to be mined through the second person, especially if the you has a distinct personality, which becomes revealed through the trials and instances detailed in the stream of prose.


why stanzas & breaks

To demarcate the meaning,
accentuate the rhyme,
declare the rhythm
Or simply for
the shape.

Each poem obeys its own laws.