7 Product Grammar Fails: The Tip of the Iceberg

who rescued who whom

“Whom.” You were trying to say, “Who rescued whom?” It’s a direct object, not a subject.

Maybe, it was the 200th time I saw the pet adoption sticker above and wanted a red marker. Or it could’ve been all the advertising I see that ignores direct address rules. Like every sports ad ever. Whatever the reason, I found myself particularly aware of products with bad grammar this holiday season. Here are 7  product grammar fails that I saw and thought to document from 3 shopping trips (that’s right – 3 trips):

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No wonder people don’t know how to use commas correctly! They see bad grammar everywhere.

It’s bad enough looking at internet posts where anyone can upload anything. There’s no one checking the posts, no quality control. But these are products sold by big companies! They have copyeditors – they should, anyway. I know that the actual manufacturing is usually outsourced as cheaply as possible (often to countries where English grammar is not a common skill), but the designs are still made in-house and should be checked in-house.

In other words, there’s no excuse for this. Either the company was too cheap to hire a copyeditor and trusted their target audience not to care (a probable yet frustrating option), or the copyeditor didn’t know grammar that well (grumble). Neither option is pleasing, and there’s only one thing we can do to fight it: spread the awareness.

Post products with *grammar fails. Correct them so that people learn. So that they are too ashamed to show off products that are missing commas. Better yet, teach them the right way so that they will never buy them. At least, teach them the top grammar rules not to break!

I know. I’m an optimist.

Look at it this way: even if it doesn’t teach everyone, you still get to correct the error virtually. That’s a lot better than getting arrested for vandalism when you paint the comma onto the expensive-yet-grammatically-incorrect billboard, right? It’s definitely less expensive than the hospital bills from the fall when the police bullhorn startles you into falling off (or am I the only klutzy grammar Nazi?).

Think about it. Better yet, start posting photos of products with horrible grammar in the comments! Satisfy your inner grammar Nazi and show the world the right way to write.

*Yes, I know that “grammar fail” is technically a grammar fail – I appease my inner grammar Nazi by considering it slang.

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Christmas Is Not a Date: A Mary Ellen Chase Quote

Christmas children is not a date Mary Ellen ChaseWhether Christmas is the highlight of your year or a torment you simply attempt to survive, may kindness, generosity, and caring live in your hearts and minds the whole year round.

Happy holidays, everyone!
Em

4 Christmas Stories You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Christmas stories silly cat with a Christmas tree

It was kind of hard to find a picture that meshes the story types, but I think this works.

Bloggers who emphasize writing and reading have a tendency to write about good holiday books (A.K.A. Christmas stories) when it gets close to December 25th. I can’t blame them (I’m just as guilty); however, I’ve noticed that lists like “The Twelve Books of Christmas” often overlook stories that I, personally, consider to be holiday gems. Don’t get me wrong: I like A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas as well as the next person. But here are 4 Christmas stories you’ve probably never heard of – at least not from the traditional book lists.

My 4 Favorite Christmas Stories You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Sweet Christmas Stories

If you’re observant (and I like to think that you are), you’ll notice that these two stories have a couple of things in common. Let’s just say that I liked cats and happy endings as a child (Ok. I’m still a child.).

 1. The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes

A poor cat is struggling through the snow even as a young boy worries that Santa won’t make it through the snow storm. If you think Santa arranges a happy ending for both, you’re right, which is, honestly, exactly what most children want in a story. Especially a Christmas story. The lovely drawings and interesting portrayal of Santa Claus make this book stand out and make the story extra enthralling and heart-warming.

2. “The Christmas Day Kitten” from James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

A wonderfully unique title, I know; however, this compilation of short stories was one of my favorites growing up, and while this particular story is extra appropriate to Christmas time, the rest are just as touching, amusing, and inspiring.

Each story features the vet (James Herriot) and his experience with a special animal. Dogs, cats, horses, and even cows share the spotlight in delightful stories full of each animal’s individual character (not to mention their owners!). The rich paintings bring the stories to life in ways no child (and few adults) can resist. It’s a charming book for any time of the year, but the hope and kindness that binds the stories together is especially appropriate at Christmas.

Silly Christmas Stories

So… apparently, I have two sides: sweet with happy endings for animals or silly with plenty of plays on words, especially with parodies. These two books fall in the latter category (but you knew that).

3. Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair

Technically, our copy of this book belongs to my parents (Hmm… I need to get one…), but not only are the drawings fun and interesting to a child, the dialect of the writing is absolutely irresistible! I remember reading it aloud to myself, trying to get the accent right from the writing. I doubt I ever did (even today), but, oh, did I have fun trying!

Besides, a tattered St. Nick with gators instead of reindeer? Who could resist that?

4. Da Night Before Kris-Moose by Terry Foy

Speaking of accents, have you ever been to Minnesota? No? What about a theatrical viking accent? Ever heard one? You know the one I mean – at least, I hope so because you’ll need it for this book.

This parody of the traditional poem relies heavily on the accent and homophones to change the meaning of the poem, creating a combination parody and caricature that’s well worth a giggle or two. And, as stories go, this one has some points that are definitely more applicable to today than the historic version!

Oh, and if you get the chance to hear this Christmas story performed by the author, take it. Your abs might hate you afterwards, but, remember, laughing burns calories!

Sweetly Sappy or Superbly Silly?

Which will it be? Whichever you pick, these Christmas stories (you know, the ones you’ve probably never heard of) are great for children and adults. In fact, they’re great for children who are adults (Hi!). So pick a flavor and dive in!

What about you? Got any favorite Christmas stories that I’ve probably never heard of?

Holiday Heaven or Hell: A Writing Prompt for Points of View Practice

holiday heaven or hell writing prompt

Do Christmas trees still entrance you? Are you excited to put them up? Or are they a hassle and an obligation?

What do the holidays mean to you? Have you been looking forward to Christmas since December 26th, 2015, or dreading the holiday’s approach since big box stores starting playing carols in September? Why do people even have such different points of views in the first place? Explore the reasons  with this writing prompt: Holiday Heaven or Hell.

What Makes the Holidays Heaven or Hell?

This is a multi-step writing prompt that starts with general brainstorming and more specific character exploration. Together, they build up to the prompt for the final writing exercise.

Brainstorming Holiday Points of View

The Holiday Heaven or Hell brainstorming activity opens the door to point of view by considering what would make the holidays heavenly or hellish. The process is pretty simple: ask yourself each question and list the answers. These answers may vary from person to person, but here are some ideas.

What would make the holidays hellish?

Not just what would make Christmas time annoying or unexciting. What would make it miserable, intolerable, or downright depressing?

  • death of a loved one
  • serious illness
  • lack of food
  • financial troubles
  • extreme weather
  • abuse (including bullying)
  • bad memories of any or all of the above
  • any combination of these
What would make the holidays heavenly?

What would make Christmas or the season the highlight of the year? What would make it a treasured memory, something to really look forward to?

  • time with loved ones (particularly people you see once a year)
  • good presents (the more, the better)
  • tasty foods (especially ones you rarely get)
  • fun activities (more than usual)

Character Exploration with Holiday Points of View

If you did the brainstorming exercise already, you’re warmed up to think about what makes people experience the holidays as Heaven or Hell. Now, take that thought process and apply it to specific characters.

You can try it with any character (a stereotype, a character from a book, one of your own, etc.). Here’s a list to try your teeth out on. Think about each character and ask yourself how the holidays would make that character feel.

  • a child who believes in Santa and has a good, loving family who celebrates Christmas
  • a child who secretly believes in Santa because school friends talked about him and has a good, loving family who does not celebrate Christmas and, in fact, refuses to allow any mention of it in the house
  • an old man in a nursing home whose wife is dead and whose children never visit
  • a poor mother whose child is happy with the shelter dinner and hand-made gifts
  • a rich woman with no family who spends Christmas at the ski lodge, pursuing her favorite hobby
  • a man who is married but unable to have children and is a mall Santa each year because he likes to think of all the visiting children as his grandchildren
  • a couple who have twins but lost one of them last December but whose remaining child is very excited and happy about Christmas

That’s quite a variety of perspectives. You probably noticed that they’re not all cut-and-dried Heaven or Hell either. Even with incomplete characters like these, you start to see mixed feelings and inner conflicts about the holiday season.

The Holiday Heaven or Hell Writing Prompt

Ok, folks, it’s time to take what you’ve done so far and use it in a Holiday story of your own (short or otherwise). Answer the following questions to get started.

  • Who is the main character?
  • What is his/her holiday point of view?
  • Why is that point of view a conflict? (Who opposes it, or what is interfering with what the character wants to happen this holiday season?)

Now, go, write your story. Explore the details of the Holidays (and life) that can turn them into sheer Heaven, Hell, or some mix of the two.

You Might Be a Writer If…

Do you qualify as a writer? Read my list and find out (Ok, ok. You already know. Read it for giggles!). Ready? You might be a writer if…

you might be a writer if

No, typewriters are not on the list.

 

10. You love to read.

You’re definitely a bibliophile. In fact, you love a good story – whether it’s written into a book, transformed into a movie, performed on stage, or simply told by a friend.

9. IDEAS grab you.

They hook you and pull you so deep into planning them that sometimes you even lose track of your surroundings. (You know, sights, sounds, conversations… little things.)

8. You know grammar.

In fact, a little thing like a comma error acts like a splinter under your skin. And seeing correct usage (especially one that isn’t common) is a reason to celebrate.

Speaking of which, I may or may not have thanked a stranger for putting the correct direct address comma in the final slide for a celtic Christmas concert…

7. You’re a bit of a logophile.

So you like words. There are worse things: you could be truly bibacious addicted to braggadocio – you could be an autothaumaturgist! But, no, you just enjoy playing with words. Especially two-dollar words. It’s a good thing! Really! (If it’s good enough for Disney…)

6. You get distracted by what people said – not what they meant.

You and I both know that it happens. Frequently. People say one thing and mean another (like when someone asks a question as a negative…), or there are 3-4 ways to take what they said. Most people don’t even notice, but as a downside of knowing grammar and playing with words, you do.

That said, the most recent one I’ve encountered is “extra medium.” What does that even mean? Think about it.

5. You think in plots and subplots.

An event happens, and your brain plays out a series of ways everything could move forward after that. If this complication happens, you (or whoever’s the main character) would react one way. If that complication happens, you would react another.

Then, something you totally didn’t anticipate happens, proving that life is far more random than our readers will tolerate.

4. Your inner monologue sounds like a book.

That little voice in your head (the narrator of your life) sounds like a novel. It uses imagery like similes and metaphors along with other literary devices. There’s dialogue. If you wrote it all down, you’d practically be able to sell it (if 1. your life was more interesting and 2. readers didn’t mind more random plots and tangents).

3. You’re constantly taking notes.

Literally and mentally. Phrasing, dialect, character behavior, situations, architecture, food – the world is full of inspiration, and you know it. There’s no way you’re missing out on a good story because you weren’t paying attention!

2. You see potential.

It’s a trait of creative thinking. It’s not that you don’t see the flaws or plot holes (can you do that and be a good writer?). No, you see ways to fix those flaws. You see ways to take those moments you noted (that inspiration) and transform it into something different.

You see possibilities.

 1. You write.

Maybe, the rest of these points are true. Maybe, you have the soul of a writer. Maybe, you have a fabulous idea. Maybe, there is a great book locked inside of you.

Prove it. Be a writer. Write.

Very Different Takes on Fairy Folklore

Very Different Takes on Fairy Folklore Red cap

Beware the red cap!

Maybe it’s all the commercials with not-so-bright Christmas elves (sometimes annoyingly so), but lately, I’ve had faeries on the brain. And, being me, that makes me think of how they’re used in books and how different authors have very different takes on fairy folklore.

Have you ever listed all the books you’ve read that used old fairy folklore as inspiration? Well, don’t start unless you have a lot of time on your hands. It’s kind of amazing, actually. So many authors have made the old stories their own, and so many of those  takes have become commonly used that it’s hard to recognize the inspiration anymore (like elves, for instance).

Of course, that’s one of the best parts of using fairy folklore as inspiration for writing. To quote myself (which feels a little weird, TBH – not being a narcissist):

“…there is simply so much fodder that 5 authors could use the same faeries as inspiration and get 5 very different worlds, characters, and stories out of it. Make that 5,000 authors…”

Well, I’m not listing 5,000 (I don’t have that kind of time), but here are 10 very different takes on fairy folklore.

10 versions of fairy folklore

Let’s start with the obvious.

 1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

While faeries as trouble-makers is well documented in the old Celtic and English tales (especially Robin Goodfellow), Shakespeare’s take humanizes the faeries and their court. They have petty squabbles (like the human court), honor human events, have pity on unrequited love, and make mistakes.

They’re not impossibly powerful beings with no souls who thrive on human suffering or are immune to the plights of their human victims (as they’re portrayed in many older works). Of course, they’re still fairly petty and impetuous, but that’s human, too.

2. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Speaking of petty, impetuous faeries, Tinker Bell is perhaps one of the most famous fairies today thanks to the Disney version of Peter Pan. To me, Tinker Bell is a perfect example of the trend to make faeries slightly more capricious than the average human. They feel enough emotion for us to empathize with them, but they’re a bit flighty and easily angered.

Her Disney incarnation may also be the reason the image of fairies as being tiny, winged beings is so popular today.

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Speaking of popular images, let’s talk about elves, shall we?

The elves of early fantasy stories, including Tolkien’s, are widely accepted as coming from old Norse folklore. Tolkien made some adjustments to fit his storyline and world, emphasizing the knowledge that would come with longevity (we hope). His elves feel emotion, but they put higher stock in logic than the highly emotional Tink.

The popularity of his stories has made the long-lived, sometimes-too-obscurely knowledgeable elf a role in every “traditional” fantasy novel since. To the point where few could name the origin – or did you already know they came from Norse mythology? (I didn’t…)

4. Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The fun thing about this Discworld book is that it combines traditional impressions of scary faeries (renamed, like Jenny Greenteeth) with a completely untraditional type of fae called a Nac Mac Feegle (If you haven’t read this, and you like silliness at all in fantasy, I highly recommend it!). The traditional faeries steal people, live forever, are very dangerous, and like illusions (the usual).

The Nac Mac Feegles drink, curse, fight, and get intimidated by books, lawyers, and witchy 9 year olds (srsly, read it).

If you’re familiar with stereotypes of Scottish Highlanders (see Braveheart), then you’ll realize that Pratchett more or less took that stereotype and applied it to the old idea of the brownies. By combining two very different things, he made something new and wildly entertaining.

5. Ile-Rien books by Martha Wells

In the Ile-Rien books like Element of Fire and The Wizard Hunters, Martha Wells combines elements of alchemy, magic, faeries, and technology. She uses many of the traditional fae ideas like the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, redcaps, elf-shot, and glamour, but the uniqueness of her world and the way the fae interact with it refreshes them, as well.

The elf-shot is a specific kind of attack that the fae are impervious to (rather than simply an elf’s arrow). Glamour is an innate magical ability that fae can use but that doesn’t work against other fae – or humans who’ve been given a gift to see through it. Red caps are dangerous but not very bright, and even faerie circles get a new lot on life.

By leaving aspects of the original folklore, Wells gives a feeling of realism and history to the books, but by interweaving them with specific differences, it’s more than enough to hold the reader’s interest and feel different from the traditional stories.

6. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

MacDonald’s interpretation of goblins suits the modern approach to children stories: scary but not too scary. While the original goblins were much more dangerous and impervious to human tricks (if not human gold and jewels), the weaknesses of MacDonald’s goblins make them much more manageable – even comical.

Here’s a hint: if you ever encounter goblins from this book, sing, get into the sun, and stomp on their feet. Not your typical grotesque and murderously greedy goblins, right?

7. Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

So we’ve confirmed that goblins have long been portrayed as grotesque little creatures that are greedy for gold and jewels – but bankers? I’d say that’s an interestingly modern twist on an old character.

Rowling also gives her own take on many other creatures from mythology and folklore. Like centaurs who are ruled by astrology and talk in riddles, a cerberus (A.K.A. Fluffy), and, of course, house elves.

Like Pratchett’s Nac Mac Feegles, the house elf idea traces back to brownies, but again, Rowling gives them some new characteristics. The original brownies would leave a house if mistreated or if the food they were given was called payment for their work. They didn’t take orders, and they only worked at night and unseen. Rowling’s house elves, on the other hand, served a person or family, took orders (to the point of being unable to do certain magic without permission), and could have clothing without being freed.

Those differences not only make them new and interesting characters but also lead to interesting plot conflicts (like freeing Dobby, Winky’s drunkenness, and Hermione’s liberation movement).

8. The Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey

The entire Five Hundred Kingdoms series is about new versions of old fairy tales and folklore. In fact, the kingdoms are ruled by a magical power called the Tradition that tries to forces characters into established roles (a creative idea that makes myriad opportunities for conflict). So a seventh son or a young girl with a stepmother and two stepsisters might have to struggle to get out of a predictable pattern.

But what’s that got to do with faeries? Well, other than the typical fairy tale types (like witches, fairy godmothers, etc.), there are brownies who work for the fairy godmother. They do all the domestic magic like their predecessors, but they’re rather vocal and full-fledged characters rather than shadowy beings that only come work at night.

As the characters travel or the book changes, they also encounter faeries from many different cultures such as Russian rusalkas and bannik as well as the more traditional fantasy elves. The overtness of the world’s use of fairy tales is extremely interesting from a writing perspective since it uses the fairytales as stereotypes established by the Tradition and then explores how more realistic characters react to being stuck in those roles. I’ve never read any approach that’s quite like it (although I’m always ready to learn…).

9. Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey

Even though Lackey’s Elemental Masters series uses many of the same types of fae and folklore, the tone and world is vastly different. This series is set in historic England (usually) but the historic aspects are overlaid with a magical world where humans can control specific elements – and the creatures attached to that element.

Here, different beings from folklore are assignment elemental affiliations (like red caps and Robin Goodfellow), but we most often see ones that were always considered more one element than another. Gnomes are from the earth, salamanders are from fire, undines are from water, and Sylphs are from air.

These stories are also loosely based off the framework from old fairytales, but the modern settings, stronger female leads, and addition of elemental magic make them vastly different form the originals.

10. Elves on the Road series by Mercedes Lackey

Last but not least, we have elves racing cars in the U.S. of A. The main fae link is the Seelie and Unseelie Courts and how they have survived and adapted to modern times. Parts of the old stories like sensitivity to cold iron and underhill remain, but they have evolved rather like old traditions evolve in a new setting.

Other areas’ folklore and elemental creatures occasionally pop up here, as well; however, with storylines more like a modern mystery/crime story, there’s a very different flavor than her stories based deliberately off of fairytales.

In other words, it’s by the same author, but the take on fairy folklore is different.

That’s really why I threw in the last 3 – not to push 1 author, but to emphasize how 1 author can use the same inspiration in many different ways (in fact, that author has several other series that could be thrown in, as well.). I easily could’ve done 2 more authors instead – or 20 more authors. Or 200. There are that many variations on faeries (not even counting the spelling!).

Like I said before, folklore is so rich with opportunity that any author could pick up the same old tale and turn it into a different novel. It’s Changeling versus Tinker Bell. Seriously, use life as inspiration, and the opportunities are endless – you just have to look for them.

How Crimes Change over Time

how crimes change birth control pills illegal

Speaking of how crimes change, what was banned in 1873 and remained illegal in many states until 1965?

If you read “Crime, Punishment, & Worldbuilding,” then you already know my thoughts on how useful it is to think about legal systems when it comes to realistic worldbuilding. I also briefly mentioned that crimes change over time, but in your story, that really only matters in one of three cases: 1. the story is set in a period of unrest (A.K.A. social change), 2. the book series encompasses centuries, or 3. no one remembered to change the stupid law in the official books.

How Crimes Change over Time

What was illegal 100 years ago and what is illegal now in the U.S. has some overlap, but it’s not all the same. There are also plenty of laws that make no sense today – just Google “weird U.S. laws,” and you’ll find plenty of articles on that (for example, “The United States of Crazy Laws“) that include things like whether or not you can let a donkey sleep in the bathtub or knit during fishing season (You think I’m joking.).

As a more serious example, consider the year 1872. At that time, Susan B. Anthony was arrested because she voted. The next year at her trial, the judge

  • refused to let her take the stand
  • declared her guilty of voting illegally before the jury could vote
  • fined her $100

All for voting.

Compare that to today when women vote regularly. That’s a dramatic change for a culture to make in about 144 years, especially considering it’s only been 96 years since women got the right to vote here (not even a century).

While this is a pretty dramatic example of how social norms and what is considered a crime can change, it’s important to remember that the change didn’t happen quickly, and that the length of time between the two situations would’ve included varying degrees of both attitudes.

Setting a Book When the Definition of Crime Is Changing

If you set your book during the period when the definition of a crime is changing, it may not be the happiest book, but, on the bright side, there’ll be plenty of conflict to choose from. After all, whenever there’s a movement for change, there’s generally a movement against change.

Research previous (and existing) movements for social change, and you’ll have plenty of fodder. Progress tends to be very slow at first. Then, there’s a sort of tug-o-war where the balance shifts from one side to the other, and some factions may change their support as time goes one.

Now that I think of it, it’s like the study of war: each side winning different battles, employing different strategies, making use of different technology, and trying to convince others to join or at least stay neutral. Who appears to be winning and how close the conflict is to being resolved depends entirely on when you set the story (A story set at the beginning of WWII would give a very different impression than one set at the very end.).

To be realistic, avoid making social changes quick, clean, or bloodless. The struggle and even the ugliness of it is what makes us believe.

Setting Books Before & After the Crime Changed

When a book series covers an extended period of time (say, centuries), the world has to change. One way to give the new time period a different feeling from the previous books is to include social changes like new laws. You could change who is considered a citizen, what types of behaviors are taboo, or even the amount of regulation (For example, there didn’t use to be speed limits, driver’s licenses, illegal substances, or legal drinking ages…).

Be warned, however: unless the books are a millennium or more apart, there should be hints of change.

In the book that comes first (in the chronology of the world), drop some hints of social unrest. More or less, depending on how close the story is to the actual period of change. For the book that comes after the laws have changed, you can slip in some characters who long for “the good old days,” a movement that’s trying to change it back or living true to the old laws in a separate society, or simply some old books/ads/propaganda.

Really, the options are endless, and you need look no farther than real life to get inspiration.

A Crime in Name Only

So what about when they forgot to ever undo the law? When is that useful? Well, other than the comedic-style unexpected twist, a “crime in name only” is most likely to turn up if

  • There’s a regime change – especially one that puts a scrupulous rule-follower in charge (permanently or temporarily).
  • The society agrees. If everyone thinks the law is silly or dumb, then, there may be little motivation to change it at first (it’s so obvious), and later, the next point might apply.
  • They forgot it’s there. Unless the town/country has a plethora of studious lawyers, this is surprisingly easy. If it doesn’t come up in court, why teach it?
  • Two words: recovered records. This is more common with post-apocalyptic cultures or people who had to flee some danger quickly. Then, some intrepid explorer discovers the old records, revealing the ancient law.

And so on, and so forth. You get the idea. Clearly, it takes the right series of circumstances not only to reveal the law but also to make it relevant to the situation as well as enforced by whatever group is in power.

While there can easily be a good amount of comedy with this kind of technicality, it really depends on how seriously you treat it. If you emphasize the main character’s frustration and rage at being restrained/confined/stopped/whatever by such a ridiculous and antiquated law, then it may hit close enough to home to feel rather realistic (and not funny at all).

Well, there you go. How crimes change over time, and 3 main ways that can apply to your worldbuilding. What laws will your characters break – or make?

True Alchemists Do Not Change Lead into Gold Unless They’re Using Old Pencils

true alchemists don't change william h gass quote

I love the fact that the printing press set in the background is made out of lead.

I want to be a true alchemist when I grow up. Not that I’ll ever grow up, but there’s something inspiring about thinking of writing as alchemy (especially if you like FullMetal Alchemist). Not only because of the transformation aspect – although having the scientific knowledge and/or mystical ability to change lead into gold is appealing, especially applied to writing. Thinking that my writing skills can “change the world into words” is pretty heady (true or not).

But that’s still not the main reason I like this analogy. No, the best part of this metaphor (IMHO) is the fact that alchemy was all about exploration. Back in its heyday, true alchemists spent their time trying to accomplish the impossible. If one attempt or combination didn’t work, they tried something else.

In a way, alchemy was mankind’s way of reconciling spiritual beliefs with science. And while we may laugh at alchemists’ efforts to make the philosopher’s stone or change lead into gold, those explorations led to the development of scientific theory and helped direct science as we know it today (strange thought, wot?).

Now, take a moment and think about that idea in terms of the writing analogy.

Isn’t exploration a major part of writing growth? And don’t we have to constantly have to reconcile the rules and logic of writing (science) with the emotion of it (spiritual)? I think so. I think that makes this analogy a very deep and thoughtful description of what gives writing such power and also what makes it so difficult.

We transform things, yes. We try to capture the world in words. But we also play a very delicate balancing act (or sometimes a vicious war) between the art and the science of writing.

We explore. Through trial and error we find new stories and new ways to tell them. We are true alchemists just as William Glass said. We try to accomplish the impossible, and success has all the magic of alchemy.