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 Post subject: Writing Primer for LDSFAQs
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:17 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:02 am
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There are far, far too many people who think that writing well is a waste of time.

Now, before I get into that, let me stress that bad writing – intentionally bad writing, that is – has its place. Well-written dialogue will occasionally include grammatical mistakes, for instance, since they can offer more depth to a given character. Misspellings or misused punctuation can often add humor to a sentence, and there's rarely a better way to denote that someone is shouting than to write in all capital letters. The problem arises when people get lazy with their writing, or when they try to excuse said laziness by making any number of incredibly ignorant claims.

"I can write well if I need to, but there's no point in doing it on the Internet."

At its core, this argument seems to suggest that some people only write well when it's expressly required of them. That's certainly their decision, but it seems shortsighted for a number of reasons. After all, in text-based mediums, a person's writing style is the closest thing they have to a personal appearance. They might as well be saying, "I only care about showering or brushing my teeth if I'm going out on a date." Again, that's fine... but to take the metaphor a step further, it might be a little bit difficult for someone to find a date if they look (and smell) like they've been spending passionate nights with a dumpster.

"Language evolves."

Yes, language does evolve... but linguistic evolution is a concept about which many people have a mistaken impression. Writing the word "everyday" when one means to convey the idea of "every day" isn't an example of linguistic evolution; it's just a mistake. It's also a verbal mistake, typically only made by people whose spoken vocabulary is greater than their level of reading comprehension. On the other hand, the word "text" becoming a verb is an example of linguistic evolution, as is the word "twerk" being added to the dictionary (as distasteful as that might be). Citing the fact that "language evolves" as an excuse for an error doesn't make a person into a paragon of progress; it just makes them wrong... and doubly so, for misusing the term.

"As long as the information gets across, good writing doesn't matter."

Claiming the written word exists only to convey information is tantamount to suggesting that Van Gogh only wanted to show people what stars look like. The way in which something is written conveys just as much as (if not more than) the content of the words themselves. Think of it like music: A somber sonata played by a hyperactive five-year-old with a kazoo is going to be much less evocative than the same song performed by a symphony orchestra, even if all of the notes are identical. There are certainly people who lack the ability or the desire to understand that about writing – just like there are people who can't tell the difference between a song played poorly or one played well – but that ignorance doesn't immediately make them right.

There are plenty of other excuses people make for not writing well, but most of them don't stand up to scrutiny. Literally every word-processing device connected to the Internet has access to spellcheckers (usually by default), dictionaries, and reference articles. Granted, some of the most common mistakes I see are the result of over-reliance on automated spelling corrections, but it doesn't take much additional time to go back and fix the erroneous alterations.

In the end, it seems like people just don't care... and I'm getting tired of explaining things to them.

TL;DR: The written word isn't a surrogate for speech, and writing well is never a waste of time.

- Doc

If you can't tell that he's the conman, congrats, you're the mark.

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 Post subject: Re: Writing Primer for LDSFAQs
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:24 pm
Posts: 3983
Location: La Mancha
Excellent article; thank you for sharing.

It’s relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don’t really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.

-Yuval Noah Harari

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