Too Many Commas

We interrupt your regular dish of Internet fiction commentary with a brief interlude …

I admit that I’m not happy with the latest writing on Novelr. I feel that it’s starting to become too stuffy; too pedantic. Of the past 7 posts, 3 contain arguments that lack clarity and structure, 1 is a note on a month-long absence, and all involve writing processes that felt much like shitting through a bloody anus.  Moments like these call for a close look at my sentence-level construction … and I realized that I was using far too many long sentences. Dammit! I say. Bad habit of mine … and in front of a live audience, to boot!

On Novelr, I realize that I’ve got periods where I write stuff that I’m happy with – even two years down the road – and I’ve got periods where I just can’t seem to express ideas in a clear, chatty manner. I notice, too, that these writus horribilis periods seem to coincide with the waning of the moon, and are always preceded by a chorus of howling wolves. (I, err, was joking). But allow me to put up a short style guide for future reference, one you can bludgeon me over the head with if I stray too far from the beaten path. Also, feel free to learn from my predicament.

The Novelr Style Guide

The following are several tenets that I shall attempt to maintain over the next couple of months:

  • This writer shall put a lid on multi-clausal, long-winded, over-comma-ed, unstructured, rantish sentences that, added together, create multi-clausal, long-winded, over-comma-ed, unstructured, rantish paragraphs. (Sorry – couldn’t help it … I swear that’s the last!)
  • This writer shall use short paragraphs as much as is feasibly possible.
  • This writer shall stop pretending he is writing for the New York Times. He shall be personal. And chatty. Oh yes, who doesn’t love a chatty writer?
  • This writer shall stop playing casual games whenever he thinks he’s got a massive case of writer’s block.
  • This writer shall ask good questions, and (hopefully) find unexpected answers to those questions.
  • This writer shall attempt to be funny. If he isn’t funny, then he shall at least die trying.

I’m not sure how successful this style guide would be, considering that I’m supposed to have developed a proper style by now. (I have, after all, been writing here for about 3 years already.) But then again I seem to lose my way after every major examination in my academic year. No harm going back to the drawing board, and hashing out that idiot of a writer’s block. I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Update]: Thought I’d add several other things that I’ve been doing here at Novelr. All of the above are writing-related issues, things that I’ve been grappling with ever since I took that study break late last year (yeah, I lost my sense of direction during that period, which should change … in a bit). But the ones below are stylistic decisions I made, on the fly, while producing this blog. See if you’ve noticed any of them:

  • Novelr is referred to as a separate entity. Never my community; always Novelr’s community. Never my writing; always Novelr’s wiritng. This is to remind myself that Novelr is supposed to be community-centric: the ideas and the discussions are Novelr’s, and hence belong to the community clustered around it.
  • There are three kinds of articles in Novelr: Commentary, Ideas, and Bookmarked! posts. Commentary is a post providing in-depth analysis of a 3rd party link; Idea posts are original content written specifically for Novelr’s audience; Bookmarked! posts are collected links that I think you’d find interesting. This is an internal categorization, mind; not something you’d find anywhere in the blog’s archives.
  • All posts must be edited at least twice before publication. Sometimes more after. If a large amount of restructuring is needed, the post will be updated with an (edited) tag attached to the title.
  • I try to respond to all comments all the time. Lately, however, this has been erratic. Sometimes you guys are better at hashing out an issue than I am, and I gladly take a backseat in such situations. 

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