The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

Language can sense fear

This is an address to all authors, all authors everywhere, but mostly tech authors. Please, do me a favor. Use the active voice. It's OK to use the active voice. You don't have to use it in every single sentence but you should be using it most of the time. That's how human beings generally talk, that is how we like our language to be arranged. "To be arranged" is passive, so you can see I'm not Draconian about this; also, there's well formed passivity and then there's "What the hell is going on?" As an example of the latter, here is a sentence in a book I am editing now, with some nouns changed to preserve anonymity:
"Therefore, to explain its proper function effectively the tables and grids will be discussed without a lot of explanation, as media are rather dull without implementing interaction."

You see how there isn't any agency in that sentence? This stuff is just kind of generally being done, and somewhere, deep in your Broca's area, it's making you, the reader, kind of tense, isn't it? No one likes a tense Broca's area.

I know why you do it, authors. This is technology, and you want to write the way it makes you feel, you want to write like a clean white room, like a stack of translucent cubes, like Aphex Twin. Unfortunately, none of those things uses language. Language is for humans! I know you're nervous because you don't do a lot of writing. But you talk, don't you? And you don't talk like that!

So I'm making the author say this instead:
"Therefore, to explain its proper function effectively I'll discuss the tables and grids without a lot of explanation, as media are rather dull when they don't involve interaction."

There, isn't that better? Your brain can parse that in a jiffy and move right along.

Also, and this is again primarily for the tech authors, stop capitalizing words apparently at random. I'll never understand why you do that.

I was going to post a stix in this entry, but I have to finish editing this chapter and it's taking kind of a long time. Maybe tomorrow, which is also today.
Tags: attentionauthors, bitter copy editor, broca's area
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