While I nurse my broken hand and try to find the fun in typing either one handed or snapping my wrist repeatedly every hundred words or so, I tend to keep Netflix open; I’m one of those people who can’t work in silence and my iTunes library is more prone to having me sitting there singing along – thus driving the coyote and the pet artist nuts – rather than concentrating on the words I drop on the page or screen.
The latest binge watch on Netflix has been Kitchen Nightmares; you know, that lovely program where Gordon Ramsay screams a lot, people screw up and tell him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but by the end they all come together and make some awesome food (or so the script would have us believe.)
What does that have to do with horror writing? Not much, you’d think. But given recent participation in a few creepy pasta projects and general internet exposure, one thing Ramsay says – repeatedly, with more gusto each time – is “You have to have standards!” And that is something that is true across the board.
To me, it’s bad enough reading texts, Tweets or Facebook posts littered with the broken remains of what might have been words. “luv u 2,” etc, etc. It’s become so invasive that tech savvy individuals, even the strictest grammar nazis, have realized there is no educating or fixing available for this; the choice is “learn to read it and deal or go on a homicidal rampage.” That’s infuriating. It’s disgusting. We bemoan our educational system, we whimper about the hundreds of learning disabilities that folks are supposedly afflicted by, we blame the teachers, and yet we see grown adults typing and writing like that and accept it as the norm.
But you know what? Fine. Whatever. It’s painful, but homicidal rampage will not fix it and playing the grammar nazi will only result in tears. For the nazi, not the perpetrator.
But more and more I find things on story websites – Creepypasta, Wattpad and others – or on my Kindle that are written in this same arcane dialect. I find proud declarations from authors and writers that “my stuf iz teh best u shuld red it!” which, once upon a time, would have gotten them a pat on the head and a puzzled walking away, but are now earning 4 and 5 star reviews, hundreds of likes/retweets/reblogs and only inspiring more of the same.
It’s distressing. An author’s art is to find the right words, to spin them into a cloth of myth and fantasy that others can believe in, enjoy, immerse themselves in. The words, those little building blocks and stray threads that get you there, are the bloody point of the thing. To demean and abuse them in this way – and then to be applauded for it – is as close to sacrilege as anything is as liable to get for me, at least until I finish Scarlet Gospels and scamper off to join Pinhead – ahem, sorry, the Hell Priest (Don’t hurt me, Pinsy! Please? No?) – in his little corner of Hades.
Note that I’m not talking about those who use strange spellings, awkward or incorrect grammar or stilted flow as part of the tale. Phonetic speech is fine – and often entertains me immensely – and using words in an odd way or deliberately working against type and standards as part of the creative effort is something that works for some folks, is part of their lure. Check Elmore Leonard or Chuck Palahniuk for examples of that. Nor am I talking about honest (and hopefully uncommon) mistakes, or stuff that, while bland (and arguably bad) at least has the semblance of a complete sentence or thought in it (yes; by this standard it does mean that E.L. James and Stephanie Myer have been elevated, however reluctantly.)
I’m talking about the people who, knowingly or not, completely butcher their language of choice and expect the reader to perform their own Rosetta Stone miracles to find meaning in the text. That should be un-fucking-acceptable. But you see it more and more.
So for the love of whatever Gods you hold to, please. Please. Don’t write in Netspeak. Skip the 3133+. Remember that it’s “you,” not “u,” (and to think, we used to worry about you’re/your!). I get that it’s not always possible, especially in some forms of social media where character limits matter, but could people at least try? Pretty please?
Otherwise we need to start a coalition to get Gordon Ramsay working on “Internet Writing Nightmares.” Followed by Simon Cowell’s “Grammar Nazi Talent Scout.”
Christ, I sound pretentious as hell this morning, don’t I? “You’re assaulting my pwetty words! Stahp it!” (Damn phoenetics, creeping in! Back, beasts!) But… c’mon, folks. I can’t be the only one who finds this trend upsetting, and especially not the only one claiming to be a writer who gets irked at this sort of thing. So… discuss! Your opinions, thoughts, flames and arguments in favor of the opposition are more than welcome down below!