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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I don't know about NZ schools, but in my experience, US schools don't care a whit about having kids writing anything but responses to essay-question prompts about bad novels. ("What does The Scarlet Letter mean to you? Be sure to use examples from the text, and do not use the word 'I'.")
    • "... and do not use the word 'I'."

      Or the passive voice, under any circumstances. Or sentence fragments. And don't start any sentences with "and".

      • The active voice is to be used at all times.


        • Yeah, I didn't originally intend a list of self-violating rules. I just started with the passive-voice prohibition, which always annoyed me, and then ended up with some. I guess I should have been consistent.
          • I didn't have that good a grasp of grammar when I left school, so I didn't have a firm grip on passive vs active voice. Now I do, and passive drives me batshit. A lot of the editing I do is structural (explain this before that, need a better introduction here, etc.) but some books also take a lot of wordsmithing. Some authors seem to think in passive voice, which makes me question their sanity.

            I had one book that took a lot of working over--as written, it read like a Sun white paper. Buzzwords everywhere, and no active voice. I wanted to strangle the author!

            Sorry. The author was the person I wanted to strangle. :-)


            • I understand the problem. I was a technical editor in a previous life. Some authors definitely overuse passive voice, and probably most uses of it in unedited writing should be removed. But passive has its place. Removing it from the writer's toolbox isn't the solution.

              I was objecting to people who take rules of thumb that are useful if applied reasonably and turn them into simple-minded absolute prohibitions. Editing (or grading papers) is about exercising judgment.