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A Invitation to Join in a Civilised Discussion

Ross at Play

I want to try something different. I am weary of endless exchanges about things we already all know on the uses and abuses of so-called rules on grammar, punctuation, and style.

I invite others to participate in a discussion group that will attempt to produce a joint statement they can all accept, or at least accept the opinions as reasonable for others to hold.

I believe that is possible. We have many differences of opinion – but we are all intelligent, knowledgeable about writing, and passionate about improving our own writing and helping others improve their writing too.

I'm not sure this is possible, but I will ask Lazeez to temporarily close and later reopen this thread. I do not want to stifle debate in any way, just defer it long enough to test if a consensus is possible before opening it up to all-comers.

These are the steps I propose hoping to achieve that.

*1.
The first exchanges must be limited to a small group. I nominate these people: myself, Awnlee Jawking, Crumbly Writer, Dominions Son, and Switch Blayde.
My reasons for selecting those people are:
** Myself – This is my idea. I have already thought about a potential final outcome, and believe I can suggest a suitable starting point
** AJ – He has recently made statements that provoked strong reactions from both me and CW. That is sad, because I have no fundamental disagreements with AJ's opinions, and I doubt CW has any either. I see the underlying problem as there's currently no practical way for AJ to express his opinions without the result of CW and I feeling intimidated about expressing our opinions
** CW – Not just a fine writer, but he always seeks to be constructive, and is very insightful in suggesting new ideas writers might use to improve their writing
** DS – What can I say? He is someone who is never unwilling to express his opinions :-)
** SB – The only one among who is always the voice advocating restraint, reason, and tolerance – and a damn fine writer too.

Some of those I have nominated may not want to be involved. They are free to choose that. Some I have not nominated may want to be involved. In my opinion, they have the right to ask for that.

I have volunteered to do some tasks below. If any in the group want to do those instead of me – they are welcome to them.

*2. I will produce a first draft of the joint statement and post it here.

*3. I will then ask the group to all email me privately with whatever they would prefer was included or excluded from the final version.

*4. I will produce a revised draft, incorporating ideas others have sent to me, and hoping for something that may achieve a consensus. I will then circulate all versions to all within the group.

*5. I expect some rounds of private exchanges seeking a final wording we can all accept. At some point, I may close off that process and decide on the final wording. That would be what I assess as achieving the highest possible level of consensus.

*6. I will then post the final version the thread will then be opened up to all to contribute as they please.

Seriously, if we really want to improve our writing and help others improve theirs, we have to the never-ending nagging stating things we already all know: there are no "rules" of grammar, there is no style guide suitable for writers of fiction, and good fiction writing will always require authors to occasionally disregard any and all conventions.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

I'm in.

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Thank you, DS.

So no one misunderstand my intentions ...
I am thinking of just a few simple statements with a total length about one, at most two, screens long.
Perhaps these words recently posted by Switch Blayde could be the first draft for three of our statements.

It simply means when you decide to follow a style guide, you should follow it throughout your writing for consistency.
Why do I follow CMOS? Because that's the one traditional publishers decided to use. And that means readers of traditionally published fiction are accustomed to those conventions.

I'm only hoping for something that will help me not overreact to certain types of posts which have counterproductive consequences.
If someone responds to a constructive attempt to provide information with, say, "There are exceptions to every so-called rule of grammar," I want the ability to respond calmly with, "That is covered by our joint agreement #5, making your post unnecessary, thus also a nuisance."

Replies:   Bondi Beach  ezrick
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I'm not sure what kind of statement you're seeking, but I'll help if I can.

As far as I'm concerned, the statement is simply:

Feel free to disagree, but don't take someone else's comments personal and don't personally attack anyone. And accept that not everyone will agree with you. Put your ideas out there for others to consider, and let them come to their own conclusions. It's not your job to convince people, just offer advice/guidance.

REP

@Dominions Son

I'm in.


Good luck DS, and I hope this collaboration works out for you. I privately tried something similar between myself and 2 other authors via email and the collaboration collapsed.

Before you expend a great amount of time and effort, you may want to consider how the end result, regardless of what that may be, will be accepted by those of us in the Forum. Personally, I doubt it will change anything.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Feel free to disagree, but don't take someone else's comments personal and don't personally attack anyone. And accept that not everyone will agree with you. Put your ideas out there for others to consider, and let them come to their own conclusions. It's not your job to convince people, just offer advice/guidance.

Thank you, SB.

I agree you "statement" is totally valid, but I doubt it could change common behaviors here.
I have some ideas I would like to try.
I am very frustrated that I get so frustrated here at times that I begin shouting an usually decent people.

Ross at Play

@REP

Before you expend a great amount of time and effort

NOT wishing to 'put words in your mouth', I consider some degree of skepticism understandable.

May I simply say that what I envisage would not require much time or effort from anyone, except perhaps me.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

Good luck DS, and I hope this collaboration works out for you. I privately tried something similar between myself and 2 other authors via email and the collaboration collapsed.


In the past I've tried dozens of collaborations, and found after a third person was involved it soon crashed due to a dissipation of the aims and intentions. When the collaborations were just two of us one of us had to take the lead role to make decisions or it just became a boring game of back and forth emails with no real action.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Feel free to disagree, but don't take someone else's comments personal and don't personally attack anyone. And accept that not everyone will agree with you. Put your ideas out there for others to consider, and let them come to their own conclusions. It's not your job to convince people, just offer advice/guidance.


That has my vote Switch. You know how often I suggest we agree to disagree and move on.

In some threads I've seen people adhere blindly to wrong information or misconceptions, in the past I used to spend a lot of time trying to educate them with the facts, but now after a second attempt at education is ignored by someone pushing an opinion as fact I give up and cease posting on that subject - with some posters I don't even respond to any of their posts at all, now.

edit to add italics

Bondi Beach

@Ross at Play

If someone responds to a constructive attempt to provide information with, say, "There are exceptions to every so-called rule of grammar," I want the ability to respond calmly with, "That is covered by our joint agreement #5, making your post unnecessary, thus also a nuisance."


I wish you success in your effort, and even more so because while I love a good argument about how many commas can fit on the head of a pin, or any of the other subjects you mention, I agree that they easily and without exception become tedious.

That said, being told my post is unnecessary because of a statement somewhere is unlikely to convince me to screen my thoughts because my point might have been made before by someone.

True, it's annoying when someone chimes in with a comment that repeats what those of us who've been following the discussion for days heard at the beginning, but so what? It doesn't happen all that often.

If you want to emphasize courtesy and civility, I'm all for that, but I'm not persuaded we need more rules about anything. The problem is behavior, apparently, not failure to understand and observe the rules and customs of courteous and civilized speech.

bb

Replies:   Ross at Play  Ross at Play  REP
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Bondi Beach

Thank you for those comments.
The only statement I disagree with, strongly, is, 'It doesn't happen all that often.'
My concern is not that posts may be unnecessary. It is when they become inevitable and relentless too.
Any attempts to restrict what statements people may make would be futile.
I'm seeking an easier way of batting them away - politely.

Ross at Play

@Bondi Beach

May I say that your thoughtful post did get me thinking.
It helped refocus my attention away from what I want, and towards what things may be feasible and would improve the functioning of these forums.
I will do my best and thank you again for your contribution.

KinkyWinks

I was not invited but I do want to ask, are you setting rules that you want others to follow? If so, I'm from Texas and I write exactly like I talk and I ain't gonna change. If you don't want my stories with poor grammar all you have to do is tell me and I'll pull mine down and not post anymore.
Dennis aka Catman

Ernest Bywater

@KinkyWinks

If you don't want my stories with poor grammar all you have to do is tell me and I'll pull mine down and not post anymore.


I believe he's talking about the forum thread exchanges that turned into flame walls, not the way you write stories - because he has no control over the way you write stories. Thus, you've nothing to worry about. So stay around and continue to post your stories how you wish to post them.

Ross at Play

@KinkyWinks

My intentions are very limited.
They would have no effect at all beyond forum posts.
Even for forums posts, they would place no restrictions on anyone.
They would hopefully encourage changes in attitudes that would make the forums more helpful for authors.

Please wait and see. It won't take long. I intend nothing like what you appear to suspect.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

Thanks, Ernest.
Your comments to KinkyWinks are entirely correct. :-)

Bondi Beach

@Ernest Bywater

So stay around and continue to post your stories how you wish to post them.


Second this. Please, stick around. The more authors the better.

bb

REP
Updated:

@Bondi Beach


If you want to emphasize courtesy and civility, I'm all for that, but I'm not persuaded we need more rules about anything.


I can agree with that. Each of us has the option of participating in a thread's discussion(s) or remaining silent. Granted certain issues are hot buttons for each of us, so if we can't control ourselves during a specific discussion, it would be best if we do not participate in that discussion. Personally, I am bored by the repetitive positions presented in these disagreements, so I usually avoid them. Unless of course, someone makes a NEW point that I choose to comment on.

The aspect of Ross's desire to have such an agreement is what I question; the last sentence that you quoted BB pretty much says it all to me. It sounds as if he wants an agreement that he can point to and tell a poster that in Ross's opinion we are violating Our Agreement. I will wait to see what he and his group defines before deciding on my participation with the conditions set by the agreement. But, when did His Agreement become Our Agreement. I don't recall any mention of this agreement being submitted to us for a vote.

If the people Ross has invited to join him in creating this agreement want to live by the terms that they define, then that is fine with me. However, if some of us don't agree with those terms, he and the group have no power to enforce their terms on the rest of us; even if the terms are reasonable.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP

@REP: I will wait to see what he and his group defines before deciding ...

That is all I ask from anyone else at this point

@REP: If the people Ross has invited to join him ...

NOBODY has been excluded.

My initial post explicitly stated that was not so:

Some I have not nominated may want to be involved. In my opinion, they have the right to ask for that.

@REP: if some of us don't agree with those terms, he and the group have no power to enforce their terms ...

I have also explicitly stated my intentions do not include any restrictions on anybody else.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I'm not sure what kind of statement you're seeking, but I'll help if I can.

Thank you, SB.
I accept others may be skeptical about the outcome of a process that has not yet started.
I trust they will be reassured the outcome will not be unreasonable if it will require your approval.

ezrick
Updated:

@Ross at Play


It simply means when you decide to follow a style guide, you should follow it throughout your writing for consistency.

Why do I follow CMOS? Because that's the one traditional publishers decided to use. And that means readers of traditionally published fiction are accustomed to those conventions.


Well, it becomes hard if you completely disagree I guess.

If you call yourself an author, you are free. It's not your job, but your duty to advance the English language.

Style guides are useful, but quite frankly they are arbitrary subsets of the English language. CMOS, AP, NYT, they are all simply controls placed by bean-counters on the English language. Their very existence means the language is vaster than they can manage otherwise. So they place artificial limits.

Don't limit yourself as an author, if the scene calls for certain taste called "golden-berryness" invent the word.

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

Civil lies make civilization and civil conversation possible. Civil Lie Said, Dis cuss shun. Amateur found or Pro found.

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@richardshagrin


Civil lies make civilization and civil conversation possible


Or is it that civilization and civil conversation require the existence of civil lies? :)

Ross at Play
Updated:

@ezrick

Don't limit yourself as an author, if the scene calls for certain taste called "golden-berryness" invent the word.

Your quote is misdirected. The words you quoted were originally written by Switch Blayde, although I do agree with the opinions expressed.

You misunderstand what those who "follow CMOS" actually do. I freely invent new words; I use sentences with no verb; I will use 'me' in situations where I know all guides say 'I' is required - there is no "rule" I am not willing to disregard if I have some artistic reason for doing so.
With no specific reason for doing something unusual I then seek consistency in my choices.
I work mostly as an editor, and the authors I assist rely on me to help them achieve consistency. I cannot do that without something that always gives me the same answers to the same questions.
It appears you assume all those who use CMOS do so slavishly in all situations. I do not know of any author on this site who does that.
I use CMOS, for very limited purposes, only because I have never found anything that suits to my needs better.
You may think it is bad and unsuitable for authors: I know just how awful it truly is!
I will be eternally grateful if you can suggest anything that is more suitable for my needs.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I will be eternally grateful if you can suggest anything that is more suitable for my needs.


I hear (I think from Grammar Girl) that the online version is more user friendly. But it's more expensive with (I believe) an ongoing subscription fee.

The funny thing is I never bought a copy. When I say I follow it, it's when I research something and they say CMOS does it this way, I do it that way.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

When I say I follow it, it's when I research something and they say CMOS does it this way, I do it that way.


So how do you know that's actually what CMOS says.

In other words, you follow the hearsay telephone game style guide. :)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

So how do you know that's actually what CMOS says.


They quote CMOS usually with a quote from another, like AP. Most often it's Grammar Girl who I trust.

Or when I do my google search, I often get to a CMOS Q&A so it's coming from the horse's mouth. Sometimes I don't get access without a paid subscription, but often I get to see the question and answer.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

They quote CMOS usually with a quote from another


They say that they are quoting CMOS, but you can't know if they are really quoting it or just making shit up.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


They say that they are quoting CMOS, but you can't know if they are really quoting it or just making shit up.


I guess I'm more trusting than you. I guess that's why I don't need the level of proof you do. Until I find someone lying, I give them the benefit of the doubt. But once they lie to me...

KinkyWinks

Ross, do you have a link to your stories?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@KinkyWinks

Thank you for asking.
I am a FAILED AUTHOR.
I have some drafts, but I've never completed anything which has met my minimum standards for posting.
That's why I've ended up as an editor. For some reason the skill sets that natural-born computer programmers have makes them ideally suited to editing.
You are welcome to email me. You can find my entry in the list of volunteer editors.
I will gladly send you my latest drafts of everything I have ever started to write - including all of the totally pathetic attempts. :-)

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


but I've never completed anything


My advice to people when I hear that is write a short story. They're easier and quicker to complete. You're dealing with a less complicated plot and fewer characters (and, of course, fewer words).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

My advice to people when I hear that is write a short story.

That is sound advice, but I don't think the site allows stories with a negative number of words - if I tried to go any shorter. :-)
* * *
I have some other problems too ... born lazy, easily demoralised, complete lack of ideas, ...
I'm very good with words, just not stories. :(

Bondi Beach

@Ross at Play

I will gladly send you my latest drafts of everything I have ever started to write - including all of the totally pathetic attempts. :-)


I'd be interested in reading the one you consider least pathetic. Or, heck, the one you consider most pathetic. Let's not screw around over the stuff in the middle.

Comment, if any, to come to you directly, not via the group.

joe.bondi.beach@gmail.com

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Bondi Beach

@Ross at Play
I will gladly send you my latest drafts of everything I have ever started to write - including all of the totally pathetic attempts. :-)

I'd be interested in reading the one you consider least pathetic. Or, heck, the one you consider most pathetic. Let's not screw around over the stuff in the middle.


Ross did send me his stories and I made a couple of comments to him. I also accepted his offer to edit one of my stories.

While we have different perspectives on style and some language, he zeroed in on several passages that had given me trouble when I wrote them and that I'd never quite succeeded in cleaning up, and I appreciate that very much.

I'm married to my beta reader and some-time editor so I haven't had experience with SOL's roster of editors. This was a positive one, and I'm glad I accepted Ross's offer.

bb

Ross at Play

The group that formed has ended their discussion.
They could not agree on anything that might have some positive effect on the behaviour of those posting on these forums. There's no point explaining why.
I am grateful to all who contributed to the discussion for caring enough to at least try.

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