November 22nd, 2006

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, doodlesthegreat!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

A fellow who runs much after the female creation, yet has not the boldness -- though the willingness -- to seduce any of them.
--John Mactaggart's Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, 1824

Feast Eve of St. Clement,
a patron of blacksmiths, including those who wed eloping couples in and around the village of Gretna Green, Scotland, just north of the English border, when such weddings were in vogue there during the nineteenth century. According to Ebenezer Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1887): "In Scotland, all that is required of contracting parties is a mutual declaration before witnesses of their willingness to marry, so that elopers reaching the parish of Graitney, or village of Springfield, could get legally married without license, banns, or priest. The declaration was generally made to a blacksmith." But John Timb's Popular Errors Explained (1841) disagreed as to who officiated: "The trade was established by a tobacconist, not a blacksmith, as is generally believed. ... In 1815, the number of marriages celebrated at Gretna was stated in Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopaedia (1818) at sixty-five, which produced about £1000, at fifteen guineas each."

The picture on the calendar that goes with today's entry is quite amusing ... a Victorian-era man and woman sitting at a small table with an open box, looking for all the world like a courting couple sitting down for tea or something, except the woman is randomly pointing a pistol at the man's face. Presumably he's pressing his suit with just a tad too much ardor? Either that, or their game of Mah-Jongg has gone horribly wrong. Ah well, you know what they say ... "God made man, but Colonel Colt made him equal."

-The Gneech
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Me Barbarian

Writing Myself into a Corner


If you want a villain to be taken seriously, he's gotta be dangerous. If your villain captures the hero and then starts monologuing or puts him into the unnecessarily slow deathtrap and leaves, you're writing camp, not adventure fiction.

When the villain has your hero helpless due to a poison dart, the villain's first impulse should be "Kill him!" -- unless he has a compelling reason to keep your character prisoner.

If the villain has a compelling reason to keep your character prisoner, any non-idiot will strip your hero, bind him hand-and-foot, and keep an eye on him.

Which makes it really hard to come up with a convincing way for the hero to escape. 0.o Gah! Stupid plot being hard!

-The Gneech