Y'know how everybody has pet peeves? And how those pet peeves are totally incomprehensible to the rest of the world? My pet peeve (this week; it might be different later) is bad writing.
Not that I consider myself a great prose stylist, or anything, but dayum. I mostly avoid the worst breaches of English writing. Mostly. This is not something I could say about a lot of stuff I've been reading lately, both online and in print. Thus, here follows a list of the things that make Auntie Jo get out the wire hangers and start screaming about pronouns:
1. No more passive voice--EVER!
I don't recall where I saw it, but I ran across the phrase "Birth was given to the idea..." and immediately stopped reading. "Birth" is never "given" to anything. One can give birth, or one can be born, but for Frog's sake, don't use the passive voice to describe the act. Gaaah. This one sets my teeth on edge.
2. Periods are fun in moderation.
Run-on sentences can be used to nice effect, as can sentence fragments. I'm fond of fragments myself. However, if you're consistently expressing yourself outside the subject-verb framework, you might want to stop writing prose and get a gig writing bad free-verse poetry.
3. If you're writing for a public audience, can the racist and sexist slurs.
On second thought, don't. I want fair warning that you're an asshole.
4. Paragraph breaks: We haz 'em.
This one's a tendency that a lot of bloggers have: they write and write and write and it's lovely stuff, but you can't tell where the hell you are in the essay because there are no damn paragraph breaks.
Here's a hint: Hit enter twice and continue with a new thought.
Yes, this is a structural complaint rather than a stylistic one. How, though, will I ever be able to follow your style--or your substance, for that matter--if I can't find my way out of one huge long unending jeebus grits where's the next paragraph column of text?
5. Adding -y does not make it an adjective. Adding -ly does not make it an adverb.
Fashion magazines do this all the time. You can't just create new words by adding sometimes-vowels to the end of 'em. (Well, you *can*, but you get my point.) I was flipping through a girly mag that somebody'd left behind in the breakroom and stopped dead when I hit the descriptor "Studio Fifty-Four-y." Good thing I carry ammonia capsules with me, as that unbridled use of the adjective-mode gave me the vapors.
6. Tame Cute.
Our local birdcage liner is bad, bad, bad about this. An otherwise serious wire story about, say, Pakistan will be headlined with a pun. An otherwise serious local story about high-school dropouts will contain clever double-entendres and wordplay. Yes, we know you're smart; you wouldn't be writing for a newspaper otherwise. That's enough.
7. There are different writing styles. One of them is appropriate for your use. Find it.
You don't have to be formal on a blog. You *can* be--there's no law against it--if you're doing a thoughtful, well-reasoned essay. Likewise, you can occasionally (VERY OCCASIONALLY) toss a little fillip into a piece of serious writing. The trick is to know, not only your audience, but the purpose your writing is filling.
8. Spelling correctly is fun!
That's what the great gods of the computer world made spellcheck for.
9. Profanity, used in excess, can be really fucking annoying.
I kid you not: I read a blog post t'other day that was so full of f-bombs and s-bombs and q-bombs and the like that I couldn't follow the writer's train of thought. Stylistic trademarks aside, calm the hell down and try to write clearly, okay? (This is my big bugaboo, made worse by the fact that My Sainted Mother reads this blog and probably has to scrub her eyeballs afterward.)
10. And finally, please, for the love of all that's holy, have a point.
Even if it's just venting about other people's writing.
(Bonus peeve: Did I mention that plural words are NOT formed by the addition of apostrophe-S?)