Author Topic: Cato's Grammar Grumble  (Read 563254 times)

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Offline Opus106

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #840 on: September 21, 2009, 09:17:49 AM »
Marvelous! Thanks, Dave!

Ditto.


Quote
And Brown mistaking the Amazon for el Río de la Plata. Might as well talk about Denver's wharves on the Mississippi.

Is anyone here a Wikipedia editor? :-\ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontana_dei_Quattro_Fiumi#cite_ref-4
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Navneeth

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #841 on: September 21, 2009, 09:23:24 AM »
Done.

Offline Opus106

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« Last Edit: September 21, 2009, 09:41:13 AM by opus106 »
Regards,
Navneeth

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #843 on: September 21, 2009, 09:44:39 AM »
Well, maybe that's right, then.  They might not have explored the Amazon until afterward.

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #844 on: September 21, 2009, 09:47:50 AM »
Happily, it's an easy "undo."

Offline Opus106

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #845 on: September 21, 2009, 09:52:31 AM »
Happily, it's an easy "undo."

:)

Moreover, the article states that that phrase was taken from chapter 100(!) of the book; I don't think there were a hundred (or more) of those to endure in that book when I read it. ;D
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Navneeth

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #846 on: September 21, 2009, 09:57:51 AM »
Wherever I look, I don't see a reference to the Amazon at all, but more importantly I find only Río de la Plata as the river in the Americas.

Well, the Río de la Plata has such a broad mouth that it is an obvious feature of the coast.  And at least from the wikipedia article, I am not getting any clear idea of the timeline of exploration of the Amazon.  The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi was raised in 1651.

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #847 on: September 21, 2009, 10:16:53 AM »
I think the critic's problem was the fact that Brown referred to the Rio Plata as an old world river. Putting in the Amazon would have been just as bad. Or am I missing the point you're making?

I am now tempted to read Dan Brown: I am working on a short story now, done as a series of newspaper articles, and I really need to remind myself of what to avoid. Last night, I wrote that someone "gasped with a sharp intake of breath," and deleted it immediately since a gasp is to a sharp breath. It's redundant, and the word "gasp" is itself a kind of cliche anyway. How many times have you actually heard someone  gasp? Changed to "drew a sharp breath," though I miss the word "intake." Oh well, I'll save it for the description of a jet engine.

My point is that anyone can write badly if they're not paying attention. I try to pay attention. Brown apparently does not.

My favorite was "learned the ropes in the trenches." Mixed metaphors are a real temptation, and once the ball gets rolling, you can't stem the tide by spitting on the track.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2009, 10:26:27 AM by Joe Barron »

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #848 on: September 21, 2009, 10:19:25 AM »
I think the critic's problem was the fact that Brown referred to the Rio del PLata as an old world river. Putting in the Amazon would have been just as bad.

Hah! Of course. I went the wrong way entirely.

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #849 on: September 21, 2009, 10:25:12 AM »
I must say, though, I have trouble with this critique:

20. Angels and Demons, chapter 1: Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘erudite’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete.

They say the first rule of fiction is “show, don’t tell”. This fails that rule.


Not to defend Brown's sentence, which is trite, but all descriptions in fiction tell without showing. If you say a man seven feet tall with size 18 shoes, that's telling. There's no no way to show it. A quick physical description is an acceptable way of introducing someone. And I don't know who "they" are.

Or consider this:

Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by the thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down – from high flat temples – in a point upon his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.

That's all telling. Nothing is shown in the sense of any action taking place. And it's well written to boot.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2009, 10:32:27 AM by Joe Barron »

MN Dave

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #850 on: September 21, 2009, 10:33:37 AM »
Some of that article is nitpicking for humor's sake.

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #851 on: September 21, 2009, 10:42:04 AM »
Oui.

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #852 on: September 21, 2009, 10:46:39 AM »
Oh, pooh.  :-X

MN Dave

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #853 on: September 21, 2009, 10:50:27 AM »
Not to defend Brown's sentence, which is trite, but all descriptions in fiction tell without showing. If you say a man seven feet tall with size 18 shoes, that's telling. There's no no way to show it. A quick physical description is an acceptable way of introducing someone. And I don't know who "they" are.

You could have him bend over to enter the room and step on everyone's toes (or be careful of them). Then you don't have to mention height or shoe size.

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #854 on: September 21, 2009, 11:11:32 AM »
You could have him bend over to enter the room and step on everyone's toes (or be careful of them). Then you don't have to mention height or shoe size.

But why bother? It wouldn't make the fiction any better.

MN Dave

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #855 on: September 21, 2009, 11:12:09 AM »
But why bother? It wouldn't make the fiction any better.

Well, depending on how it was written, it probably would.

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #856 on: September 21, 2009, 11:41:02 AM »
Well, depending on how it was written, it probably would.

I seriously doubt it. The best writers know when to be direct. Even the most lipidary stylists simply say a man is tall and has a white beard. They wouldn't get cute and try to work it into a conversation or have the guy pick hairs out of his soup.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 06:26:34 AM by Joe Barron »

MN Dave

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #857 on: September 21, 2009, 12:22:48 PM »
The best writers can be direct without exposition. That's what makes them the best writers. Though exposition does have its place.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2009, 12:25:55 PM by MN Dave »

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #858 on: September 21, 2009, 12:33:05 PM »

Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #859 on: September 21, 2009, 12:40:32 PM »
The best writers can be direct without exposition. That's what makes them the best writers. Though exposition does have its place.

The best writers work in many different ways, and it's not always possible to generalize among them. My own theory, recently formulated, is that if the verbs are stong enough and the action vivid enough, you can get away without describing a character at all. The reader will fill in the details. But that doesn't mean one has to work that way, and not everyone does. Jane Austen never decribes her characters' features. Neither does Hemingway. But Melville gave a vivid description of Ahab's appearance in Moby Dick, and Poe devoted several paragraphs to Ligeia's profile (though, in this case, the description has more to do with the narrator's obsession than with the woman herself).
« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 06:40:41 AM by Joe Barron »