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Old 05-30-2017   #81
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
I assumed you were, at the very least, a college graduate.
I am a university graduate, and I would suspect that most in my Art & Design building had the literacy skills of a ten year old – including faculty members. I was regularly asked why I was reading before lectures or during a break. I thought that was just from a Bill Hicks routine.

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Old 05-30-2017   #82
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
I assumed you were, at the very least, a college graduate.
I am a university graduate, and I would suspect that most in my Art & Design building had the literacy skills of a ten year old – including faculty members. I was regularly asked why I was reading before lectures or during a break. I thought that was just from a Bill Hicks routine.
Reading is perhaps the most efficient way to build grammatical skills. You're learning how to write on a passive level. However, if one spends too much time reading the newspaper, then one will probably possess a corresponding level of writing skill. People who have to work two or three jobs are also less likely to read "high" literature, though one shouldn't hold that against them. To devote oneself to hard work is commendable.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

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Old 05-30-2017   #83
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

As I devoted myself to classic supernatural fiction I found myself far on the periphery of literary society as my specialised area was deemed too low brow, and within the horror genre community my reading of such fiction was deemed too high brow, so I appeared to be a vagabond before I found this place and eventually other online communities similar to it.

I don't expect grammatical excellence from many of the writers I read because of my own extreme deficiencies, though I do admit that sometimes William Hope Hodgson's insane use of commas can take me out of a story. For instance:

Quote Originally Posted by William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland
I came across the piece of piping, I had torn from the wall, lying among the long grass, underneath the broken window.

Then, I returned to the house, and, having re-bolted the back door, went up, to the tower. Here, I spent the afternoon, reading, and occasionally glancing down into the gardens. I had determined, if the night passed quietly, to go as far as, the Pit, on the morrow. Perhaps I should be able to learn, then, something of what happened.
I rate him very highly due to his stunning vistas of imagination and spectral mood, but he is probably the worst writer on a sentence-by-sentence level I have encountered in the genre. I find myself defending Stephen King and Clive Barker a lot in the online weird fiction community, as I legit can't imagine them ever writing sentences like that, which Hodgson did on a routine basis. The House on the Borderland and The Night Land are ####ing amazing books I can read over and over, which is what counts, but the prose is frequently bewildering in a negative way.

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Old 05-30-2017   #84
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
he is probably the worst writer on a sentence-by-sentence level I have encountered in the genre.
Only in a technical way, surely? A lot of writers (including King) write uglier and more banal sentences. For all Hodgson's commas, pointless digressions and repetitions, he never completely destroys the mood.

I might chalk it up to editorial interference but if you want to see even worse clumsiness, check out Hugh B Cave's "The Grisly Death" (I hope that's the right title but it's definitely near the end of the Murgunstrumm collection). Most pages have the word "scowling" once if not three times. Again, it may have been a pesky pulp editor thinking "our readers fvckin' love an angry hero" and added "scowling" at every opportunity. I generally like Cave though.

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Old 05-30-2017   #85
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Only in a technical way, surely?
Yeah, that's what I meant by a sentence-by-sentence level. He's more accomplished at the wider mood and tone than the small pieces, which is why it's those two novels I like best rather than his short stories, though I enjoy a good Carnacki tale and The Voice in the Night as much as anybody. My view of Hodgson's writing probably matches what the critical consensus is on Lovecraft – that he was better at atmosphere and ideas than craftsmanship.

The critical consensus is obviously wrong about Lovecraft though, as how he crafted his prose was his greatest gift as a writer.

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Old 05-31-2017   #86
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

"The critical consensus is obviously wrong about Lovecraft though, as how he crafted his prose was his greatest gift as a writer."

100% true. Any time his prose went over the top, it was intentional. The man had incredible control on the sentence level. All about audience.

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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