Thursday, August 2, 2007

Blink and you'll miss it

Today's words that are apparently the same:


I think "empathetic" sounds far too much like "pathetic", and "empathic" is nicely similar to "telepathic", but the author of the book in question uses "empathetic", so into the review it goes.

Today's words that are not the same:


That one was my fault: not so much a typo as a disconnect between my conscious mind, which was very definitely thinking "many", and the part of my brain that controls my typing, which relied a bit too heavily on the autocomplete for MA__. Oops. I think I need to get more sleep.


"Sometime" is a nice way of pushing "occasional" into the realm of "historical". I'm very fond of it. I admire the reviewer for using it, even if I did have to remove the erroneous s; it's one of those words that looks confusingly like a typo unless you're already familiar with it, so the mistake is understandable.

Today's pet peeve:

"Meticulously crafting a stark and terrifying setting, the story takes several unexpected turns..."

The story did not craft the setting. The author did. This is a dangling modifier, and I see them all the time, most commonly lauding or blaming a book for doing something that was actually done either by the author or by one of the characters. It's tricky to avoid unless you're looking for it, because we so often refer to books, stories, and plots as active entities; "the story takes several unexpected turns" is, on its own, an entirely blameless phrase, and much less awkward than "the author puts several unexpected turns into the story". (I might even let some of the borderline cases pass, like "Rarely mentioning popular series protagonist Getta Rhume, this prequel instead focuses on the adventures of her older brother, Maik." Technically, a book can't mention or focus on anything, but the meaning is clear enough.) I just keep an eye out for initial adverbial phrases with transitive verbs like "craft" and "write" and "create" that point to the author, not the story, as the one taking action.