The Turkey City Lexicon is a copyright-free collection of gaffes, stylistic problems, and other issues that face writers every day. I’m not talking about misplaced modifiers or point-of-view inconsistencies, but higher-level issues. Here are a few samples:
Brenda Starr dialogue
Long sections of talk with no physical background or description of the characters. Such dialogue, detached from the story’s setting, tends to echo hollowly, as if suspended in mid-air. Named for the American comic-strip in which dialogue balloons were often seen emerging from the Manhattan skyline.
“Call a Rabbit a Smeerp”
A cheap technique for false exoticism, in which common elements of the real world are re-named for a fantastic milieu without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior. “Smeerps” are especially common in fantasy worlds, where people often ride exotic steeds that look and act just like horses. (Attributed to James Blish.)
The unwitting intrusion of the author’s physical surroundings, or the author’s own mental state, into the text of the story. Authors who smoke or drink while writing often drown or choke their characters with an endless supply of booze and cigs. In subtler forms of the Dischism, the characters complain of their confusion and indecision — when this is actually the author’s condition at the moment of writing, not theirs within the story. “Dischism” is named after the critic who diagnosed this syndrome. (Attr. Thomas M. Disch)
You get the idea. Although it targets science fiction writers, there are plenty of items in it worth reading about for all genres.
And yes, that means that I’ve let everyone else do the real work of making all of this meaningful content, and all I’ve done is reformat it and republish it. But then, that’s what I do with all of the stories, too, so I’m okay with that… 🙂
If anyone thinks that an HTML version of this would be worth creating, let me know and I’ll add it to the list of things I really oughta do someday.