First of all, welcome to Concrit By Night! We’ve put this site together as a way of giving anonymous feedback to authors, in the hope that it will guide them to better writing in the future.
Here’s what we’re NOT: A site that condones personal attacks on authors. You will never find something like, “Author X is an idiot,” or, “Y should just stop writing.” If we see that, those comments will be stricken. We’re not here to bully or allow bullying. ‘Concrit’ is short for ‘constructive’, folks.
What we’re here to do is to point out uninformed and unskilled writing. Instances of:
- Out of character behavior. Would John Sheppard from Stargate: Atlantis declare his undying love without breaking a sweat? Does Fox Mulder skip gayly from a room? Will Spock declare his undying love while on a picnic? Not just “No”, but “Hell no.”
- Misguided word choice, and the repeated use thereof. Do you know the difference between “lose” and “loose”? Take Janis Joplin’s hit song, “Me and Bobby McGee”. Love that song. Anyway, search for the lyric, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” (in quotation marks) on Google.com and you’ll come up with 223,000 matches. Now add an extra “o” to “lose” and search again. You’d expect 28 or 30 exact matches, right? Actually there are 121,000 matches. This is not just bullshit, it’s a crime against the English language. 1/3 of the lyrics sites out there have the misspelling. It’s insupportable!
- ~ http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/misspelled200.htm (words often misspelled)
- ~ http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/HomonymChart.htm (words often confused with similar words)
- ~ http://www.squidge.org/GiantMcShepAUList/homonyms-most-of-which-are-actually-homophones-who-knew/ (more homonyms – maybe we should introduce these two list compilers?)
- Quotation hygiene. Improper use of punctuation distracts the reader. It should be “I believe what he’s saying is correct.” It shouldn’t be:
- ‘This is NOT how it’s done.’
- “”I’m going to need some help here.””
- ” Why are you putting spaces there? “
- “”””Help! I’m using too many quotation marks!””””
- “”I know how to do this. “I need a new quotation mark with each sentence, then I wrap them all up once I’m done!””
- Punctuation. Too many commas, hyphens, or exclamation points can dilute your emphasis. Too few can make it a giant block of undifferentiated text, which is very difficult to read. Yuck!
- Capitalization. It’s key, okay? We should know this.
- Wordsplits. Teammate is one word. So is intact. Yes, there are examples (few and far between) where they are separate (“I’m not thrilled to have anyone on the team mate with me.” “She needs remedial lessons in tact.”), they should be joined in the vast majority of instances. There doesn’t seem to be a website to refer to for examples. If anyone knows one, please let us know.
- Improper use of abbreviations. If you’re writing about a doctor, how about just using “doctor” instead of “Dr.” in your fiction? But if one of your characters is speaking, would they actually say “2IC”? No. They would say, “second in command”. We won’t call you on using “Mr.” if you are describing “It was Mr. Brown’s turn to make the coffee”, or even if you’ve got a character saying “I would like Mr. Brown to make the coffee this week, please.” Technically, it’s not incorrect. But overuse of it can be distracting sometimes. There is a case when it is unacceptable, however. The rule states if the title is not immediately preceding a person’s name, it should be typed out. So it is “I’m going to the doctor.” instead of “I’m going to the Dr.” Just please think about abbreviations you’re going to use as you’re writing.
- General tips from William Safire.