Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Amazon Cover - Eats Shoots Leaves

Book Cover from Amazon

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

We all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in email, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.

 

MY REVIEW

I laughed and laughed from preface where the author describes her reaction to producing a runaway best seller on punctuation to the final chapter describing how writing is changing from print to Internet medium leading to a flash on the Punctuation Murderer. Verily, I giggled, cackled, chortled, snickered, and tittered like a fiend: while she is not a disciple of the Oxford Comma, I will forgive her the heresy for the rest of her punctuation doctrine is sound.

You should seek out and read this book. Discover how the words “best seller” can and should be bestowed on a grammar book.

If the mene “I like cooking my family and my pets. – Use commas, don’t be a psycho.” tickles your fancy, this is the book for you. 

Note: Uses British grammar rules, not American.

Editing Rant: Generic Worldbuilding

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If you have been following my blog, you know I looooove worldbuilding.

Good worldbuilding brings a layer to the game where the characters are more real, the plot more driven, and the story becomes mind-blowing as the reader forgets about their own world and gets involved in yours. Generic worldbuilding creates an opposite affect – the characters are cutouts, the plot phoned in, and the story so “paint-by-numbers” the reader would have been better off buying a choose-your-own-adventure.

The superhero prose genre has some of the best and some of the most generic worldbuilding I have ever seen. Of all sci-fi/fantasy type stories, Superhero prose is one of the easiest for world-building so not doing it is beyond lazy. You don’t need to define where the powers come from – people could one day wake up with the powers; you don’t need to define how they work, they just do. You can play fast and loose with real science, sci-fi science, and fantasy magic. The rules don’t need to make sense. You can have standard powers ranging from “brick” (invulnerable and strong) to speedster to energy. This subgenre, thanks to roleplaying, comes with lots of quick power ideas clearly defined.

The superhero romance I just read did not even try. The superheroes were one family, and they fly and have superstrength, and, with the strength levels, needed to be careful with their romantic interests. Fly and have superstrength; that was it! The extent of the worldbuilding stopped with being careful when hugging their women. No variation between the powers – not even one brother flies better and the other is stronger and the third more invulnerable so they change who responds to what emergency.

I’ve seen generic powers become fun with the superhero learns control by learning how to cook; think fried eggs for strength and whipping up a souffle for speed. The Greatest American Hero TV show (1981-1983) had a flying hero afraid of heights, so  when he first started he topped out his flying at 5 feet above the ground. Take what makes your world unique to the next level!

It’s okay to start your world as “generic” fantasy with elves, orcs, and dwarves or your sci-fi with “typical” faster-than-light travel and laser cannons. Even urban fantasy has the generic setting of vampire, werewolves, and ghosts. But once establish…

make it yours.

 

Editing Rant: Distance

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Check the simple stuff. If you have internet, check distances and dates. People know this stuff.

A book I just read – the main character has “lived her entire life within a seventy-five mile radius of her small <home> town” according to the blurb on the back. Two locations were named – the small town and a well-known third-tier city. I searched these two locations because passing off someone as a country hick that lived for an extended period of time with over a million other people annoyed me. Turns out the locations were 110 miles apart.

The book has a bunch of other issues with fact-checking and continuity. But this, THIS, inability to get distance right really, REALLY bugged me. All they needed to say was one hundred miles, not seventy-five.

Fact checking previously have been discussed

  1. Rosemary / Know your topic
  2. Other Cool Blogs / Futurama date check
  3. Distances

Hint: If I keep coming back to a topic in the Editing Rants, (A) It’s Important and (B) People Keep Getting It Wrong.