Redundant Advice

29 Jan

There are many, many sites out there offering suggestions on improving your writing style. Most advice, if not applied slavishly, is well worth considering. Not every piece will apply to everything you write, but you will become more aware of what you are writing and why, helping you to improve.

As an example of why you shouldn’t just apply an idea without fully understanding it and when not to use it, I will take as my example eliminating redundancies in language. You are most likely aware of such things as ATM Machine (that is, Automatic Teller Machine Machine), but not all apparently-redundant words are actually redundant.

To consider just a couple of examples I found one site listing hundreds of redundant words they recommended writers should edit out, take ‘circle around’ and ‘climb up’. The site that suggests reducing ‘circle around’ to just ‘circle’, but this raises an immediate issue for me – the former implies 180 degrees (in the sense of getting behind someone), while the latter means 360 degrees. Of course, a sentence such as “circle around behind them”, could be changed to “circle behind them” and still make sense as it retains sufficient context. But,other sentences could be rendered gibberish or end up changing what you meant to say into something quite different.

It’s a similar problem with cutting ‘climb up’ to ‘climb’ – you can also climb down (as well as in, out and along), so it really depends upon whether the option is solely one way or not. Again, just assuming a word is a redundancy can lead to confusion.

In addition, a policy of redundancies also ignores the flow of the sentence. Sometimes a redundant word is present because it makes the sentence flow better. These can be removed without damaging context, but, sometimes, you may be left with a sentence that is less pleasing to the ear. (Of course, this can also work the other way – too many redundant words can make your writing clunky. Ultimately, you need to read aloud each variation and hear how they sound, not rely upon rules.)

So, consider the advice, but make sure you are applying it properly and you’ll produce better writing.

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It’s Christmas…

17 Dec

Well, okay, not quite, but I probably won’t be online then!

As happens every year, Atlantean Publishing has two Christmas releases out – Xmas Bards 7 and Christmas Chillers V.

Xmas Bards 7 – The Happy Snowman

The seventh annual Xmas Bard is a collection of six haiku, a tanka and five other poems (including the titular one) by DJ Tyrer.

Like all our broadsides (The Bards, Xmas Bards, Xothic Sathlattae and Yellow Leaves) it is available for 10p + 50p postage (or a second class stamp) in the UK. The postage covers upto five broadsides at 10p each. If you order five or fewer copies alongside a booklet or magazine, there is no postage charge.

Overseas the cost is 20c + $2 postage for one copy, $3 postage for two or three, $4 for four to seven copies and $5 postage for eight to eleven copies (email atlanteanpublishing@hotmail.com if you want to order more). If you order a single copy alongside a booklet or magazine, there is no postage charge.

Christmas Chillers V

The fifth annual volume of Christmas Chillers contains three spooky festive tales by DS Davidson, DJ Tyrer and Matthew Wilson. As ever it has an evocative cover by Christopher Catt James

  • Whatever Happened to Santa Claus? sees a quest to restore the Christmas magic go terribly wrong.
  • Murders on Christmas Eve gives us just that as a store Santa finally flips.
  • Christmas Morning sees a visit by Santa to a would-be occultist, who discovers the jolly fat man isn’t a man at all.

All volumes of Christmas Chillers can be ordered for £3 (UK) or £6 (overseas) each and the 3-for-2 booklet offer applies.

How to pay

Purchases can be made by stirling cheque (payable to DJ Tyrer) or cash to the editorial address, or via PayPal.

Channel That Festive Spirit

We release a volume of Christmas Chillers every year and welcome submissions of dark or horrific Christmas-themed tales. We don’t mind a little humour, but the overall tone should be dark. Email your submission to us no later than September 2018 and you’ll hear during October if it’s been accepted for inclusion.

Hallowed Be Thy Gun

7 Dec

I couldn’t ignore the call to arms

when my neighbours grabbed their muskets

and rushed to the village green

Hallowed Cover

Hallowed Be Thy Gun is the new poetry booklet from Gary Beck and recounts the history of the USA through its wars and military adventures.

It is available for £3 (UK) / £6 (overseas) from the editorial address. You can also pay via https://www.paypal.me/DJTyrer (please also email with details of your order). The 3-for-2 booklet offer applies to all booklets.

Review of Imaro

22 Nov

This is a review of the 2006 Night Shade Books version of Charles Saunders’ African fantasy novel (which replaces the original Slaves of the Giant-Kings with The Afua to avoid awkward similarities to the Rwandan genocide and loses City of Madness to better fit in to volume two; changes only of academic interest to those of us who never read the original version).

The novel is a stitching-together of short stories to tell the story of the titular hero, Imaro, as he adventures in a land analogous to east Africa.

It begins with Imaro approaching initiation into adulthood and discovering that forces are plotting against him. Events lead him to abandon his tribe and become a wandering adventurer in the mould of Conan, even coming to lead a band of robbers.

Imaro is a book of two halves. The first half, inspired by Massai culture, was quintessentially African, presenting a tale infused with African cultural elements that wouldn’t really work in the classic pseudo-European worlds of most fantasy tales. The second half, with its mounted bandits, was a disappointment in comparison because it could easily have come from almost any fantasy setting. That’s not to say it was badly written – Charles Saunders is a great fantasy author – but it wasn’t distinctly African. (The problem is that it deals with an east coast analogous to the real world’s and, thus, heavily influenced by the Middle East.)

If you enjoy fantasy fiction, there is much to enjoy here. Even if you’re not too interest in stepping away from the usual trends of the genre, Imaro is still good fiction. But, you will be particularly pleased if you’re looking for fiction outside the usual run of fantasy tropes as the first half is a brilliant evocation of an African culture.

Charles Saunders created something great, which deserves to be more widely read. Highly recommended.

Lunaris Review Reviewed

7 Nov

Lunaris Review issue 9 is available to free read online or to download in pdf format.

I must open with a caveat – I have a poem in this issue, although I hope that might be seen as an additional enticement to take a look at this issue! Also, I won’t be going into much detail with this review, as you should just click over and take a look.

Lunaris Review is a great ezine filled with artwork, poetry and fiction. I really enjoyed the poetry, my favourite pieces being Musings by Fatima Shahzad and the brilliant A Cycle of Futility by Uduak Uwah. None of the fiction quite hit the high notes of the poetry, there are some interesting pieces in here. But, it is the artwork by Omoniyi Gabriel Gilbert that blows everything else away. These are truly excellent pieces of art – especially Arewa and The Glorious Child – and worth taking at the issue for alone.

I really cannot encourage you enough to take a look at this issue. Highly recommended.

It’s Hallowe’en…

31 Oct

Yes, it’s that time of the year again and that means another horror poetry booklet…

Cast A Curse

This year’s booklet is named for Christopher Catt James’ title poem and accompanying cover art, Helza (Cast a Curse). Other poems include Dark Encounter by Neal Wilgus, October Frost by Aeronwy Dafies, November Thirst by Angela Boswell, and Witch Cult by Lee Clark Zumpe. Other contributors include DS Davidson, Christopher Hivner, Arthur C. Ford, Sr., Gary W. Davis and Matthew Wilson.

Although it is too late for you to read it tonight if you don’t already have it, you can still order it and enjoy it on the long winter evenings, along with our previous years’ booklets.

And, yes, we will be seeking contributions to another volume in 2018…

A Competition That’s Doing Good

5 Oct

Want a chance to win a prize for your writing whilst also doing good? Then, you want to enter A Story For Daniel. The competition itself is free and you could win £100 for writing a joyful or uplifting piece of flash fiction. The twist is that the organisers ask that you assist a charity or do a good deed in memory of baby Daniel. The deadline is the end of October 2017 and the competition is open to everyone.