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Old 12-17-2012, 02:52 PM   #1
sr71plt
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Errors of Grace in Writing

Here's a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.

I'll start with observations on using metaphors in writing. (The examples are ones given by Graves and Hodges. You may have more obvious and amusing howlers to share):

1. Mismatching of Metaphors:

Metaphors should not be mated in such a way as to confuse or distract the reader.

Mixed: While we strive for peace, we are leaving no stone unturned to meet the situation should a fateful blow fall.


2. Too Many Metaphors:

Metaphors should not be piled on top of each other.

Piled: No ivory tower held the Democratic candidate. He knew well that a candidacy should reach its crest on election day and not one minute before. But the Gallup Poll, giving him a terrific majority, left no option now but to go ahead and kill off the Republican candidate, for any slip from that lead might still be fatal in a year as full of loose electricity as this election year. The Democratic candidate decided to go ahead full steam.


3. Metaphors Confused with Reality:

Metaphors should not be so closely associated with unmetaphorical language that they produce absurdity or confusion:

Confused: Megan Murray sat with her head in her hands and her eyes on the floor. (Read something like this in a Literotica story? Bet you have.)

Confused: I once heard a Spaniard shake his head over the present queen of Spain.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:20 PM   #2
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This is point 4 in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing. Anyone want to stand up for flowery language?


4. Poeticality

Characteristically poetical expressions should not be used in prose.

Poeticality: The force of the hurricane almost bowled him off his feet. The young poplars bent like bows, whistling and shivering at every blast. Overhead the stars were polished to a high glitter.

Prose: Overhead the stars glittered with such brilliance that he fancied them burnished by the force of the wind.
- - - -

I'd have to think about this one for a while. I appreciate rhythm and expressive words in fiction. So, I think the "should not be used in prose" is too stringent. Perhaps "should be reined in" would be something I could support. Maybe I'd see this first example as being more in the realm of the "too many metaphors."
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:28 AM   #3
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"For sale. Magnificent ceramic bowl owned by a famous cook with a bottom suitable for beating."

I agree with the idea that a lot of usage consideration is often dealt with as dogma. If you decide to break 'the rules', and usage isn't quite as hard and fast as grammar, then you better know why you have chose to break those rules. The same goes for breaking the 'grammar rules'. Know why.

I agree with your comment on flowery language. Use it if it works. Again, do it on purpose. The more I work at writing and the more study, the more I realize how much I'm lacking. I've come a long way, and I have a lot further to go, but that doesn't stop me from writing.

I'm a big believer in dumping it onto the page. You can know everything there is to know about India, but if you never go you don't experience it. Likewise, if you read about writing but never write, you have denied the world your idea—regardless of possibly explaining yourself poorly. Who knows who might grab onto that little idea and make a real difference in peoples lives.

I hope everyone here is learning every day. I know I'm trying to.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:18 PM   #4
sr71plt
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These are points 5 and 6 in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.

5. Mismatching of Styles:

Except when a writer is being deliberately facetious, all phrases in a sentence, along with all sentences in a paragraph, should belong to the same vocabulary or level of language.

Mixed Tone: Out with the truth and look sharp, or I'll knock your quips and quiddities out of you.

- - - -

Where this affects Literotica writing most directly, I think, is in dialogue. Need to be sure that the peculiarities of speech in a given character are consistently enforced across all of that character's dialogue.

- - - -

6. Obscure Reference

No reference should be unnecessarily obscure.

Obscure Reference: The expense of shame in a waste of passion . . .

Actual Reference (Shakespeare's 129th sonnet): "Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action . . ."

- - - -

In other words, don't send the reader running to the dictionary or wondering where the hell you got that obscure passage.

A corollary of this is to avoid "vogue words and phrases," temporary social media/advertising catch words and phrases associated with a particular time period that can outdate your work quickly, or worse, can jaringly not match the time frame of your work.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
Here's a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.
I suppose one could suggest that Graves at least, committed his own Errors of Grace - he seduced Beryl Hodge the wife of his fellow author, and had four children with her to add to the four he had by his first wife.

However I think Graves should be forgiven, on the grounds that whilst he was prolific, he was never dull and frequently brilliant.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:13 PM   #6
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These are points 7 and 8 in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.


7. Circumlocution

All ideas should be expressed concisely but without discourteous abruptness.

Verbose: The inevitableness of destiny can be illustrated only in terms of human life by incidents that, in fact, involve unhappiness.

Concise: Human destiny can be shown only with unhappy instances.


8. Elegant Variation

The descriptive title of a person or thing should not be varied merely for the sake of elegance. (A time NOT to use your thesaurus)

Overly Elegant: The president spoke at the luncheon today. The commander in chief appeared optimistic about the prospect of economic recovery. But when the questions began, our nation's leader could not provide proof of an economic upswing.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ishtat View Post
I suppose one could suggest that Graves at least, committed his own Errors of Grace - he seduced Beryl Hodge the wife of his fellow author, and had four children with her to add to the four he had by his first wife.

However I think Graves should be forgiven, on the grounds that whilst he was prolific, he was never dull and frequently brilliant.
That's a fun observation. Thanks. Fits right in with Literotica.
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Old 12-21-2012, 03:25 PM   #8
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These are points 9 and 10 in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.


9. Overlong Sentence.

Sentences should not be so long that readers lose their way through the words.

Rule of Thumb: When a sentence runs more than 20 words long, you should sart to think about a period [or other terminal punctuation].

- - - -

Raises hand: guilty as charged. A corollary or two: The sentences shouldn't be uniformly of the same length, either. They should vary. Also, 20 lines long is a good gauge for paragraphs as well.

- - - -

10. Memory Strain.

No unnecessary strain should be put on the reader's memory.

Rule of Thumb: Key names, concepts, or abreviations that are not used for several pages [I'd say a couple of paragraphs] should be briefly explained again when they do show up.

- - - -

In Literotica writing, I think this mainly applies to throwing in character names often enough for the speaker or the one doing the action to be readily identifiable.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:25 PM   #9
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These are points 11 and 12 in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.


11. Too muchy of the Same Word

The same word should not be used so often in the same sentence or paragraph that it becomes tedious.

Tedious Repetition: I admire the man who is man enough to go up to a man whom he sees bullying a child or a weaker man and tell him, as man to man, that he must lay off.

- - - -

I think the key words here are "that it becomes tedious." In prose, and especially in poetry, repeating words may help with the rhythm and/or the emotion of the writing. Look at Poe's poetry. In erotica, where arousal images are important, feel free to throw in a "thrust, thrust, thrust" at a key point.

- - - -

12. Jingle

Words that rhyme or form a jingle should not be allowed to come too close together. [another good reason to read the prose aloud as you are reviewing/editing--you can catch more that doesn't flow that way than just scanning it silently]

Same Sounds Too Close: the need of registration or reregistration at this station of all workers on probation is the subject of examination by the administration.

- - - -

I think this has the same proviso at #11. Sometimes rhyming words can be useful to highlight a passage. As with all writing, it's rather an "it all depends" issue. Reading it aloud should help you determine with it helps the prose sparkle or sounds ridiculous.
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Old 12-23-2012, 02:22 PM   #10
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These are points 13 and 14 in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.



13. Too Much Alliteration


Alliteration should be used sparingly [the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables].

Disturbing Alliteration: A feature of today's news has been important public pronouncements about peace in Pakistan by the presidents of the United States and Russia.


14. Same Word in Difference Senses

The same word should not be used in different sense in the same passage, unless attention is called to the difference.

Same Word in different Senses: Britain holds the key to this key problem of Franco-German relations.
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ishtat View Post
I suppose one could suggest that Graves at least, committed his own Errors of Grace - he seduced Beryl Hodge the wife of his fellow author, and had four children with her to add to the four he had by his first wife.

However I think Graves should be forgiven, on the grounds that whilst he was prolific, he was never dull and frequently brilliant.
I dated one of his great-grandchildren, many years back. RG himself was dead by then, but I met several of his family - fascinating people all, in their different ways. His daughter was the only person I've ever met who could out-talk my uncle (in a good way). [/namedrop]
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
7. Circumlocution

All ideas should be expressed concisely but without discourteous abruptness.

Verbose: The inevitableness of destiny can be illustrated only in terms of human life by incidents that, in fact, involve unhappiness.
Circumlocution can be a useful tool for conveying disdain or sarcasm. Or inebriation.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:29 PM   #13
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These are points 15 and 16 (the last one) in a series of highly discussable views (taken from A Handbook for Writers of English Prose by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge) on what they call errors of grace in writing.


15. Second Thoughts

The rhetorical device of pretending to hesitate in a choice between two words or phrases is inappopriate in modern prose.

Shameful Hesitation: Mr. Hacksaw--oh, I beg his pardon, our friend served two days in the National Guard, so I suppose I should call him Captain Hacksaw--well, this gallant captain was born in Clay County.

- - - -

A However, I think. This is perfectly fine to do in dialogue.

- - - -


16. Awkward Inversion

Even when the natural order of its words is modified for the sake of emphasis, a sentence must not read unnaturally.

Awkward: On the opening night of the play, the theater threw a party grand for the cast, the crew, and the patrons most loyal.

- - - -

I don't see why you can't do this to set a mood (and maybe a time period) or reflect being tongue in cheek--as long as you don't pile it on.
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