Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: words

Third Draft of an Unsent Love Letter

Subj: I Miss Your Accent

How you opened the floodgates and let every little influence through, just to sound like you came from somewhere other than your hometown. I liked the way you would get plastered; they would trickle back then, all the regional words, all the hang-ups you had worked so hard on to shrug off. I miss the way you could talk about a place you’d never been to, and make me feel like I’d been there with you. Your half-finished novels, your half-drowned poetry. I know I was just a phase for you. I miss that phase.


I put my feelings into words, onto paper, with a black pen, and I put the lid back and I set it aside. I perform the ritual to uncap the green pen. I underline. I explain myself in the margin. I argue. I circle words, connect them to words further up. I put the lid back, and I put the pen aside. I uncap the red pen and start crossing words out. I write foreign symbols in the margin, where there’s room for it.

I fold the paper, read it until I know it, and put it in the fireplace.

A Blinking Light up on the Iceberg

[Spoiler Warning: Welcome to Night Vale]

I just wanted to say a thing or two about a thing or two. This post presupposes knowledge of the Night Vale fandom, and of Night Vale ( Spoilers up to episode 31.

I feel like I need to point out a few things, is all. Let’s start by defining a term. Actually, let’s start by saying that I absolutely love Night Vale, and the characters, and the fandom. That said, here’s the term:

Iceberging: noun. The opposite practice of shipping; the gleeful sinking of ships.

It’s pretty obvious to me that Carlos and Cecil have a relationship that will run its course and burn itself or something else to the ground. To support my theory I will present a few pieces of evidence for you, but I should also define another term that you’re probably more familiar with.

Putting someone on a pedestal: This means, essentially, that you build up a ‘perfect’ (recognize that word?) idol of someone in your head, and when you interact with the real person who is outside your head, you hold them up to the standards of this perfect person who doesn’t exist anywhere else than outside your head.

So, evidence number 1: Cecil has been obsessively stalky about Carlos for, like, a year, often calling him perfect on live radio, without really knowing him. He’s put Carlos on a pedestal since day one. “And I fell in love instantly.”

2. One of the first things he said about their relationship, once it had started, was something about how Carlos chews too loudly when eating. My hypothesis here is that the version of Carlos inside Cecil’s head does not have any such ‘annoying’ habits, and caters to every one of Cecil’s whims from atop that pedestal. “His perfect teeth and hair and penchant for sometimes chewing a little more loudly than is preferred.”

3. Cecil’s utter mood swings and his low attention span. “Telly. You remember – the deceitful barber with a shriveled soul who, just a few weeks ago, cut perfect scientist Carlos’ perfect, beautiful hair very short … so very, very short!”

4. Throughout most of episode 31, A Blinking Light up on the Mountain, Carlos is busy cooking dinner instead of investigating the approaching army and the mysterious blinking light. Cecil has told him that he needs to ‘prioritize’ (I forget the exact wording) and put other people before his own needs. This tells me two things: that Cecil has unreasonably high standards and, together with evidence 3, the emotional maturity of a sullen teenager. “Some of this realization might have come with help from those around him.”

5. Sullen teenagers’ relationships tend to end sooner rather than later, and often spectacularly. “She was still sipping her coffee too often. Perhaps her feeling of lack of control stems from a personal issue rather than the impending doom we imagined. Stress from her failure to live up to her own self-imposed life goals, for instance, or a relationship that wasn’t exactly the relationship she had envisioned it would be. But who knows?”

This post has been argued from the facts available and the canon available; I have not argued from headcanon. There are lots of justifications easily available through headcanon, but if you wish to refute my points and try change my mind about this, I would appreciate a similar approach. I happen to be giddily anticipating the break-up of Carlos and Cecil, because Night Vale do these kinds of things magnificently, and First Date was such a good episode. I’m enjoying the story, and the story happens to be filled with creepy things, death, and strong emotions.

(tl;dr I am a huge dork and a meanieface.)

Best Word of the Day Tweets

Hi, this is a self-indulgent post. Almost every day I give you, the Internet, a word of the day. Most of the time it’s a neologism, other times it’s a reinterpretation of an old word, or an outright lie. What you want to do with it is up to you. Here are some of the best ones so far, measured in retweets or how smug I feel about them.

The Gentled Tongues

The gentling of the tongues. Don’t let them speak. Every time they do, naturally: the fear of losing yourself. When they speak their one sinking truth and drag you down with it, no wonder you heat up the metal tongs and force open their mouths. In controlled conditions, let the truth spill out and harm no-one, and silence them forever. Some of the afflicted, as an act of compliance, gentle themselves and learn to speak sign language. But you know their truths are still buzzing in their heads. A hive that wants out. And what do you do about that?

Methods and Morphology of Conlanging

This is a post on conlanging.

It details 3 methods of constructing a language more or less from scratch – that is, not basing it off already existing languages. There are surely other ways to do conlangs but these are the ones that have occured to me/the people I conlang with. Let’s give the methods the arbitrary names clusterfuck, evolutionary, and interpretive.


…is the approach taken with the Cekno’s language; all ideas and jumbledness, like a brainstorming session that doesn’t really end. It goes a bit unwieldy after a few months of working like that, apparently. This involves a lot of jumping back and forth between different topics. You can do it more or less structurally but it is the most chaotic method nonetheless.

In trying to create the Cekno Idiosyncrasy, we tried to think like the star and figure out what kind of stuff it would think up, and it got confusing. Rather alien, but … yeah.


…is when you try to create a language by making up the culture that goes along with it, maybe following its route from some imaginary savannah period to living in tents and placing religious importance on testicles. The way I considered doing this was to take a tribal society and mark out the concepts important to them, define some semantic clusters, and then add more stuff in hundred-year-leaps. This’d include some sound shift and imaginary politics.

Read the rest of this entry »


Semaphore towers fell; cables were cut; spy satellites blacking out all over the globe. White noise; telephones were scrambled mid-call – I was interrupted mid-sentence. There were a few shouts, a few wordless moans. And language broke down. Words mitosed into smaller words, and sounds into their constituents until just one syllable was left. This syllable was prolonged and tested and broken, it split itself into the muscle contractions and relaxations, in tongue and throat and lungs and diaphragm, and they were repeated over and over again, every time you touched me in a new place, or in a new way.


There’s a word inside a stone and whoever pulls the word out of there becomes king. Men have spent half their lifetimes conversing with the stone, laying forth their theories and trying to convince the stone they would be just kings, fair kings, loved kings. The scholars argue whether the word is stuck in a stone or in all stones, and so stonetalking’s spread to all corners of the kingdom.

A young man sits down next to the big stone (the one stone) and ignores the three knights quoting poetry at it. “Hi, how are you?”

“Bored,” the stone says.

Rules of Style

Presented with only this for a comment: these are things I need to remind myself when writing; it does not contain some of the more – to me – obvious writing rules such as ‘no rule is omniapplicable’. List updated as of 30-dec-2015. Subject to change; am still figuring things out.

1: start the story where it needs to be started for the rest to make sense, not earlier.

i. chronology is appreciated. Every scene shall be the obvious choice of scene given the preceding scene. This also goes for sentences.

2: use ‘thought/felt’ as little as possible. [The show-don’t-tell rule. Courtesy of Chuck Palahniuk.]

3: no thesis statements/topic sentences. Do not start your paragraphs with ‘Gullvig was in love’ just to follow up with examples of how in love Gullvig is. Just give the examples directly.

4: do use specific examples and not category nouns, if possible. ‘His car drove into a tree’ vs ‘his ’78 Buick hit an oak’.

i. however do not exaggerate; do not confuse or anger with this.

5: if possible, write what people DO rather than what they do NOT do. What they do not do becomes clear from what they do.

i. to accentuate something a person does not do, make hir do the thing in a previous scene; use repetition to highlight the lack of doing.

1. if it is important to show what someone does not do, there is often a good verb for it. E.g. ‘avoided’ or ‘fasted’.

6: read everything aloud. If possible, get someone else to read your shit aloud.

7: as few words as possible to say as much as possible; verbs over phrasal verbs.

i. verbs over nouns.

ii. and over but; metaphor over simile.

8: on flow and feel: sentences trump individual words; paragraphs trump sentences.

9: obsess over details. Rework until it feels right. Do not put anything up that does not feel right. Do not apologize for this.

i. see everything before you write it. [Another show-don’t-tell rule. Courtesy of Stephen King.]

10: murder-your-darlings. If someone has a problem with your writings, listen to them as if they were your conscience. [Courtesy of Kristina S. who knows me by my old name and was a wonderful teacher.]

i. but treasure some darlings. [Courtesy of Warren Enström.]

11. only use ambiguity when you mean both guities.

i. remove all the almosts and somehows, all the seems and appears tos, and words serving similar functions (anything that vagues stuff) from your manuscript. It is now a better manuscript.

12. be more interesting than esoteric. Hooks are important.

i. do not compromise between interesting and esoteric, though: rewrite until it is more interesting without removing the esoteric elements.

1. no one should have to read a sentence more than once to understand it.

13. the only time the reader does not get to partake in essential information is when that is the point of the story. Style is secondary.

i. write. What. You. Mean.

14. if many explanations are in order, mention once what needs explaining, and explain them calmly one by one.

i. only give things names when they need names.

1. double-check that the name is superfluous before excising it.

15. to establish viewpoint character in a 3rd-person paragraph, mention something simple first before divulging their biases. A section may only contain text from one character’s point-of-view.

16. run freely with the metaphors. Organize your kaleidoscope so that the words belong to the image.

17. any given sentence should, upon inspection, only contain one kind of comma, if it contains commas.

18. it is bad luck to talk about stories you are currently writing. Explaining it removes the urge to tell the story, and you are left with a half-finished husk and no motivation. Guard your secrets like a dragon does gold, until they’re polished enough.

19. delete all instances and synonyms of veryactuallyapparently, and  definitely that show up outside of dialogue, but remember that adverbs are your friends. No-one can argue with lugubriouslyabominably, or borderline. (This rule is not in conflict with rule 11.i; borderline does not vague anything, it places another word exactly on a spectrum.)

20. is this the most interesting time in your character’s life? If not, why aren’t you writing about that instead? [Courtesy of Rich Burlew.]

21. coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating. [Courtesy of Emma Coats. (That whole list is great. Go read it every now and again:]