The Turkey City Lexicon? Guilty!

If there’s anyone out there who still hasn’t heard of the Turkey City Lexicon, or who thinks it’s a colorful list of Don’t’s for Sci-fi writers only, get thee to the SFWA site right now! Some of us indie writers are guilty, guilty, guilty!

The most common infraction I’ve seen lately is this:

Not Simultaneous

The misuse of the present participle is a common structural sentence-fault for beginning writers. “Putting his key in the door, he leapt up the stairs and got his revolver out of the bureau.” Alas, our hero couldn’t do this even if his arms were forty feet long. This fault shades into “Ing Disease,” the tendency to pepper sentences with words ending in “-ing,” a grammatical construction which tends to confuse the proper sequence of events. (Attr. Damon Knight)

I am  sooo guilty of this particular, attractively-named bad writing habit:

Squid in the Mouth

The failure of an author to realize that his/her own weird assumptions and personal in-jokes are simply not shared by the world-at-large. Instead of applauding the wit or insight of the author’s remarks, the world-at-large will stare in vague shock and alarm at such a writer, as if he or she had a live squid in the mouth.

Since SF writers as a breed are generally quite loony, and in fact make this a stock in trade, “squid in the mouth” doubles as a term of grudging praise, describing the essential, irreducible, divinely unpredictable lunacy of the true SF writer. (Attr. James P Blaylock)”

But at least we’re not Rimmer or The Cat from Red Dwarf, trying to justify our very existence:

Sometimes, of course, we only think we’re guilty, and punish ourselves unfairly:

If your writing isn’t guilty of a single bad habit listed in The Turkey City Lexicon, my hat’s off to you.

That is all.


2 responses

  1. Ugh, I’m about 80% through this amazing list and I can’t help thinking, “Oh, I did that a tiny bit here…” and “Well, that doesn’t exactly apply to what I did there, not exactly…” As a cautionary list, it’s wonderful. But it’s sort of like reading a medical book full of symptoms: you think you have every disease in the book when you’re done 🙂

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