204 – Bad Wordcraft Devices

The Mythcreant Podcast
Since we’re lucky enough to have Ariel in the studio once again, we’ve decided to take a deep dive into common wordcraft mistakes. There’s no plot or character analysis here, just the words and punctuation on the page. Mostly, it’s how those words and punctuation marks are used poorly. We discuss rhyming names, the prevalence of exclamation points, and POVs that make no sense. Also, what happens when you name something without describing it. Spoilers: it confuses the reader.

Download Episode 204 Subscription Feed 

Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

The Goblin Emperor

I Am Number Four

Discworld Death

His Dark Materials

Harry Potter

Twilight vs 50 Shades


The Awakening

The Blade Itself

Spell for Chameleon

Need an editor? We’re at your service.

Read more about



  1. N

    Would it be possible to have transcripts for these podcasts, even rough approximations of transcripts? I have trouble paying attention to audio, so unfortunately I’ve never managed to finish any of these, as interesting as they are. Text would be much easier for me to handle. I’m sorry if I’m asking too much

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Transcripts are something we’ve been looking at, unfortunately the services for creating them cost money we don’t have at the moment. It’s something we’ll keep our eye on for the future.

      • N

        Oh, okay!

  2. Lizzie

    Hey, not sure if this is just my laptop, but when I press play the audio is that of the previous episode. I’ve tried refreshing the page, but it’s not fixing it. Not sure if this is happening for everybody but I thought I’d let you know!

  3. Paul Jonathan Drury

    The seems to be the previous episode on writing female characters.

  4. Razr39325

    The link seems to be broken. I can’t download the podcast.

  5. Annie Nk

    I am Nigerian, because of naming conventions across quite a lot of the tribes alliterative names are pretty common. I would find it weird to have that suggested as something I would need to change in my writing because it didn’t read properly even if I was using created names because it’s pretty natural to me. I am sure that it’s something that occurs in other cultures, especially ones where surnames are given based on the first names of parents or grandparents and those aren’t necessarily just non western. So I think it’s just something you should be aware of when suggesting it as ‘bad wordcraft’.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      That’s good to know, thanks for the information! Crossing language barriers is always gonna create some unusual situations, even between something as similar as American English and British English, but names can be especially sensitive so it behooves us to learn as much as we can.

  6. P. R. Bunke

    I always thought of “daemon” in the same vein as “faerie.” It’s a tone thing more than anything else–creating a kind of otherworldly feeling for the story, making the words have an unusual flavor. It sounds all, for lack of a better word, steampunk. By the time I was a kid reading Philip Pullman I guess I’d seen the “ae” being used in other words that were pronounced with a long E (Aether? That kind of thing?) so it didn’t seem unusual to me. But that might not be the beeeest practice since it can be confusing.

    Regarding em dashes, based on the way I’ve seen them used often (especially in YA, contemporary romance, etc) I like to think of them less as just like parentheses and more as an extended pause. Thinking about it that way, the em dash is a long pause that can be used in the same space that you might use a period, a semicolon, OR a colon, and on top of that it also serves to add a longer pause than a comma in a place where none of the other punctuation marks would really be appropriate. It can join two independent clauses or put spaces into a sentence that you want to draw out in spots that other punctuation doesn’t make sense. So I am definitely on Ariel’s delicious em dash train–though when I was writing in high school I made a rule for myself that I could only have one per paragraph, because they CAN get overused quickly.

    “Readers use the amount of description to judge how important a thing is to the story.” This line is a very useful clarification of something that should be obvious but isn’t… I need it on a quote somewhere, heh.

  7. Bellis

    About the em-dashes and parenthesis: I have the bad habit of overusing them, because my thoughts don’t usually flow in a linear way. It’s more like a mind-map where one thought or event sparks several others that all follow logically from it.
    So I often have a hard time conveying that in writing and end up using clauses in em-dashes or parenthesis (which I also do when I speak and am sure annoys my friends) to have two thoughts that both relate back to the same one thought that sparked both of them.

    I try to edit this out, more so the more formal or polished it’s supposed to be, but still – there’s a struggle for me to confine my writing to a strictly linear progression of events or thoughts or ideas. I admit that in some cases I should just decide which is the most important train of thought and go with that, cutting out the side-tracks, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes two “tracks” are equally important, and even acknowledging that two tracks can be valid at the same time might tie into my theme, because I genuinely think holding a more-dimensional understanding in our minds is often important. Whereas a single train of thought could be one-dimensional.

    Do you have any advice on how to find the balance here? Not being too confusing, meandering, annoying, or as you said, not interrupting one train of thought too often, but at the same time conveying this kind of two-dimensional mind-map of interrelated thaughts and events?
    Should I follow one “track” and then go back to a forking point in the next paragraph and have a paragraph following another track for a bit? That sounds bad writing it down. :S
    Would it be better to have shorter “alternative tracks” inserted into sentences with em-dashes and parenthesis then? Or do I have to kill all my darlings and only focus on one train of thought? But that seems too prescriptive? idek

    Now I’ve confused myself. Help?

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy (updated 03/28/20) and our privacy policy for details on how we moderate comments and who receives your information.