The term “prescriptivism” gets thrown around a lot, often to describe some pretty bad behavior, but what does it really mean? That’s what we’re investigating this week, because we don’t want to be prescriptivist about it. We discuss how language changes depending on context, what effects technology has, and why it’s a bad idea to make word pedantry your entire personality. Also, is prescriptivism just for grammar and wordcraft? Does it apply to storytelling advice? WHO KNOWS!?


Generously transcribed by Olivia SB. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast, with your hosts Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock and Chris Winkle.

Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast. I’m Chris and with me is,

Wes: Wes,

Chris: and

Oren: Oren.

Chris: Now, I say that we need to have a half hour podcast. And since I requested this topic, I’m going to need to introduce it, and then at the end of the half hour, I think Oren should call it closed and say that our time’s up and list some patrons. Now, the question is, am I being prescriptivist?

Wes: Ooh!

Chris: Let’s hear your yea or nay.

Oren: This is a hot spicy take!

Wes: I’m an immediate nay.

Oren: What I’ve discovered from researching is that prescriptivism means different things depending on who you’re talking to. I would say no, that just sounds like deciding on a format for the podcast. Now, I would say it would definitely qualify as prescriptivist to me if you were like, ‘Every podcast must be half an hour, introduced by Chris and then ended with a round out by Oren, all podcasts everywhere’. Also, that would just be a lot of work, I don’t think we have time for that.

Chris: So it’s not merely making a prescription that makes me prescriptivist, it’s specifically making a bad description, a prescription.

Oren: As far as I can tell, in the circles that I run in, a prescriptivist basically means demanding that everyone conform to what’s currently in the dictionary and that language never change. Or at least what the person thinks is in the dictionary- it’s hilarious because sometimes they’re wrong, like sometimes the dictionary has moved faster than they have.

Chris: Yeah, let’s go over what the definitions are, and I have one, and if you have your own, Wes, or you want to say more, Oren, you can. So, Wikipedia. Again, prescriptivism and calling something prescriptivist, if you’ve ever been on any online discussions of fiction writing, you’ve almost certainly seen somebody say this, and call something prescriptive or call somebody prescriptivist. So, Wikipedia says ‘Linguistic prescription, or prescriptive grammar, is the attempt to establish rules to finding preferred or correct usage of language’, as opposed to the descriptive approach, or descriptivism, in academic linguistics, which observes and records how language is actually used, and in linguistics that can really make a huge difference as to whether you consider language constructs to be a matter of what we are actually saying, they’re all equally valid, or you tell people that one way of saying something is correct. Like you can’t ask if you can do something, only if you may. You remember with the teacher like, ‘Can I go to the bathroom?’ ‘I don’t know, can you?’

Oren: Yeah, that whole thing. I mean that’s certainly what most people I encounter mean when they say prescriptivist, is they just mean someone who insists that it was in a grammar book they read once, so it has to be correct forever, in all circumstances.

Chris: What’s interesting is that this is very much tailored to the linguistics field, and it’s obviously what- when people use it for fiction writing, it’s obviously derived from this, but it also doesn’t really quite fit because this, again, is tailored to linguistics. Wes, do you have any input on this?

Wes: Yeah, I think every kind of casual discussion about this on the internet is just using it wrong. So allow me to just point out that your personal language preference is yours. Go for it. But your usage preference is not a usage fact and it should not be held as such. Opinions and facts are two different things. If I think that this sounds better, or if I suggest that anytime Oren says ‘I’m done’, and I say, ‘No, you’re not done, you’re finished, you’re not well-cooked’, Oren should just say, ‘You’re welcome to think that, and I’m going to continue saying this, end of conversation.’ And if I’m being a reasonable prescriptivist, I should accept that, and then go look in a dictionary and find out that usage for saying ‘I’m done’, meant to mean completed or finished, has been around since the 14th century, so. Everybody who decides to find an obscure rule to justify their preference is doing this wrong, and I hate them. Oh my gosh. Cause I generally lean- I’m a copy editor, I have strong prescriptivist tendencies, but I’m reasonable about it. Why can’t we all just be reasonable about it, you guys?

Oren: Well I guess the other extreme from the person who’s like, ‘No, no singular they, because it wasn’t taught in grammar school when I was a kid’, would be the linguistic nihilist who thinks that nothing matters and you can just type whatever letters you want in any order and it’s all equally useful. Fortunately I’ve never encountered a person who actually thinks that. I have seen memes about it, but I know for a fact that the person making the meme didn’t think that, because if they had then I would not have been able to read what they wrote, because the meme itself was made according to certain conventions and best practices so that it would be spread as memes are. And if it was really just like, ‘Whatever, nothing matters, you can just do anything and it’s all equally valid’, then it would just be gibberish, and that’s not what anything is. No one actually thinks that, some people joke about it, but it’s not real.

Wes: We struggle with breaking out of binaries. You’re either a prescriptivist or a descriptivist, and they’re not opposites, good descriptivism includes a measure of prescriptivism and vice versa. A prescriptivist might say ‘Irregardless is not a word, it should not be in the dictionary’, but a descriptivist should say, ‘People say it, it should be in the dictionary, but if you put it in the dictionary and don’t point out that it’s generally not considered standard, then it’s a disservice, because there’s no context, there’s no information around it.’ So you have to have both, if you want to accurately convey information to people, and then they can decide on what to use.

Chris: Or a descriptivist could also say that people use it, it means the same thing as regardless.

Wes: And they do, they do do that. That’s kind of my point, is a good dictionary includes words- look up ‘literally’, all dictionaries include the two senses of the word now, but they’ll point out which one is sense one, which is considered the main definition of that word, but they will point out that people will use literally to mean figuratively and, it’s good to know that. It’s just, dictionaries do a lot more work in providing people with etymological context and things like this, so, it’s not a Bible, it’s just a record.

Chris: Yeah, I think that the issue here is that when we’re talking about just studying linguistics and the way that people speak, we’re talking about, again, descriptivism is about recording what’s there, it’s not about making recommendations, and it’s not about how do we meet our goals for communication, descriptivism doesn’t genuinely fulfill that, that’s not its purpose. It’s purpose is simply to watch and see how things are changing and evolving and what people are doing, and so if you want to meet some goal with your communication, you have to have some level of prescriptivism that is simply based on our goals. Whether it’s sounding sophisticated or just being clear, like I know, Oren, you’ve mentioned that you read a short story in a magazine that had no double quotes around the dialogue.

Oren: Yeah, it had no quotation marks, it was really hard to figure out what dialogue was, and it was like, yeah, that’s a thing that no one would let you get away with, except in this case this was written by a famous author, so they were allowed to get away with it. Because that actively made the thing harder to read. I thought it was actually a mistake. I emailed the magazine asking if I’d gotten a bad copy and they were like, ‘No, that was an authorial choice.’ It’s like, okay, well, it was an objectively bad one. It made the story harder to read. And I don’t know why you would want to do that, that just seems like a bad idea, and you can only get away with it when you’re famous and the magazine just wants to have your story. And I would say that in general, language changes regardless, it’s gonna change, it just does, that’s just how language do, especially when new modes of communication are discovered and become common- certain forms of communication are better suited to certain technologies. There’s a great book called Because Internet that goes really into the details of how different online communication forums influence the way people write.

Chris: And if you really want to see the descriptivist mindset that’s also a really great book because there’s been so much pushback about, ‘Oh no, internet writing is terrible.’ And that book works actively against that to show that it’s not actually gonna get rid of nice, formal writing, because casual writing exists now and it has a purpose and it’s not just crude, right?

Oren: Right, and I mean, in my experience, generally speaking, if a linguistic convention is not helpful in communicating, it just won’t stick around. I don’t know, I’m not an expert, but that’s been my experience, is that people don’t use linguistic conventions of any kind that aren’t helpful, because they’re unclear and they’re confusing, so people stop using them, unless you’re in an environment where they’re being enforced for some reason, and the internet, they aren’t, so, you end up with very specialized types of communication that might not work well in a academic essay or in a long form piece. Like I wouldn’t, I don’t write Mythcreants articles the same way that I chat about the last game session we had.

Wes: Now I want to see that, though.

Chris: But the funny thing about this is that it’s quite possible that the author who wrote this short story without quotes around the dialogue felt like, ‘Oh, the idea you have to have quotes, it’s very prescriptivist.’

Oren: I guess.

Chris: You know, we don’t want quotes there for the sake of having quotes, we want quotes there so that the communication comes across, so it’s easy to tell what is dialogue and what is not, and it’s not confusing the reader. We have a goal, a communication goal, which is to be clear about what is dialogue and what is regular narration, and that is what we recommend, having quotes, in order to achieve that goal. But from somebody else’s perspective, that’s prescriptivist.

Wes: Interfering with my art!

Oren: I think that your goal, presumably, is to communicate clearly in most cases. That’s usually assumed to be the goal, a good editor is going to help you with that. And in some cases that may involve being like, ‘Okay, so you’re doing this thing that isn’t really appropriate in this context.’ And that can get a little tricky, especially if there’s some marginalized aspect involved, but there are still- just because you did something non-standard that doesn’t automatically make it a good idea, people make mistakes. My favorite anecdote about this was when I was at the Red Pencil Conference for the Editors Guild here in the Pacific Northwest. This was in the before times, of 2019, wooh. And I took a workshop taught by Christy Abram, who was great, and it was on AAVE, African American Vernacular English. And part of the workshop was that she gave us all a sample of work written in AAVE and we were supposed to edit it. Now of course, we’re a bunch of liberal white editors, so we at least knew better than to put our foot in it by marking every AAVE convention as wrong. So we all chose to be very cautious because we didn’t want to mark something wrong when that’s actually just how AAVE works. But as a result we ended up missing a number of actual mistakes, and if we had been paid to edit that that would have been a disservice to the author who paid us. So the lesson there was that if you’re going to edit AAVE, learn AAVE, learn how it works, and then you can edit it properly and you won’t be crossing stuff off because it’s not standard, quote unquote, English, but you also won’t miss mistakes because you’re trying to be light-handed.

Chris: So, Wes, do you want to talk a little bit more about what would be considered prescriptivist in copy editing? Because we just talked about the fact that descriptivism just doesn’t cover the idea of giving recommendations to meet your communication goals.

Wes: Right.

Chris: But clearly one copy editor will call other copy editors prescriptivist. So then the question is, since you all are making essentially what are prescriptions, technically, where you would draw that line and how do you think of it in the copy editing context, as opposed to in the linguistics context.

Wes: So, if you’re making a prescription from your own personal preferences, you shouldn’t do that. That’s wrong. That’s not what prescriptivism is. Good editors who prescribe their advice are basing that on a style guide or a style sheet that they make when they’re working on a manuscript. And so, we’re being prescriptivist in the sense that we’re drawing on an established authority, ideally you’ve agreed with the writer on that established authority, so you know what words, etcetera, you can use, but you might imagine that in larger editing houses where there are editors on teams doing certain passes, and one editor feels like this should just be fine, we don’t need to change that, and somebody else says, ‘No, per our style guide, it has to be this’, and then they get into an argument over what’s the harm- if you say ‘not only’, do you always have to say ‘but also’ to finish it off? And, for a long time, a lot of people in constructions have said yes, in most of the style guides, and then the copy chief of Random House, Benjamin Dreyer, says, ‘It’s fine, you can just say “not only” and then “but”, it’s fine, that “only” can probably be better used elsewhere.’

So there’s definitely things that come with these kinds of discussions of, ‘We’ve used these types of structures for a long time, do they still serve a practical role anymore?’ And that’s why, we’ve talked about dictionaries, but usage guides- Bryan Garner’s Modern American Usage is a great example of generally a descriptivist kind of book, even though he has prescriptivist tendencies, just saying how we’re using these things. There was, for a long time in the 20th century, this idea that you shouldn’t use sentence level adverbs, like saying ‘Hopefully it’s not going to rain tomorrow.’ And Bryan Garner was like, ‘Look, no one’s winning this. Just let it go, I’ll update my book.’ But generally in my own experience of copy editing, there are things that just come down to preference, and so it’s not, it’s tough, because you should allow people to use their preferences, and the writer should get to use the writer’s preferences. If the copy editor has a preference, that copy editor had best be backing that up with some serious facts. If the writer is using this word and the copy editor says, ‘I’m very unfamiliar with this word, I went and looked it up and turns out it’s a variant for this word, and it’s not in much usage, so your readers might be confused’, that, finally we’re getting somewhere, but, like I said, it’s being reasonable about it, not saying that the fact that you said that word it’s wrong and you red pen it.

Chris: I will say, because I think this is relevant when we’re talking about style guides, I used to have this boss, and I was a designer, so it was a completely different context, but I would talk about trying to make the design consistent, and he would just keep quoting them at me, ‘Oh, you know, pointless consistencies’-

Wes: Oh no!

Chris: And I was trying to point out that consistency also creates a impression of professionalism. So in some of those cases, if you have a style guide for one work, that sort of makes the work look more professional, because it has consistent rules that it follows, whereas when it’s inconsistent, it’s probably also just more likely to be disorienting or confusing because you’re changing what you’re doing, but also it just looks less professional. And so in some cases it’s hard to articulate why you’d want to use consistency or why it’s important, but there’s still a reason. Now, granted, if there was a big, compelling reason to not be consistent in that case- I think what our actual argument with my boss was, was the advantages of being consistent versus the advantages of breaking consistency in that particular instance. And clearly I didn’t think his reasons for breaking consistency were compelling enough and he clearly didn’t think that my reasons for being consistent were compelling enough, but we would have had a much better discussion if we had talked about those reasons, as opposed to just talking about what is the point of consistency or criticizing or that kind of thing.

Wes: Yeah. And those discussions are really important, because you could see how in any kind of similar situation, you might find some common ground, and then you start locking things down, and then at that point you suddenly are on your way to kind of creating best practices, and you’ve- what is a style guide other than a bunch of people who get together, hash things out, find what they like, and then they put that work out into the world, and if the world starts liking it, then it gets adopted. Because they’re like, ‘Oh, these are great consistent rules.’ Mythcreants is very particular about how we stylize headers and use other types of things in our style sheet, and we do some of our compound words and hyphens and things like that and spacing differently than Merriam Webster’s and stuff, so we consider those- and we’re consistent with them, they’re just representative of our best practices, and like Chris said, they keep us consistent and we think it shows off a more polished website.

Oren: I certainly prefer websites to be consistent unless they have a strong reason not to, or any place where I am reading a thing. I just get used to reading things a certain way, and if they start changing how they do stuff, it’s kind of irritating. It’s like, ‘It was like that earlier, hang on, I got to refigure my brain, that takes longer than it used to, okay? I’m getting old, cut me some slack here.’

Chris: So probably in the copy and ink context when you say prescriptivism or you’re calling somebody a prescriptivist, ‘You dirty prescriptivist!’, that’s usually talking about following the rules to no purpose, or maybe not updating conventions, because again, as we mentioned, the dictionary changes. Not updating them quickly enough, etcetera, is that a fair summary?

Wes: Absolutely fair. And people cling to things because maybe they had to learn it and it was really hard to learn it and they finally got it, and now the world is telling them that they’re wrong now. And it’s an unfortunate position to be in, no one really wants to be wrong, but if it’s the world you live in or the profession that you do, you need to stay curre. Think of a doctor still treating you with bloodletting and being like, ‘Oh, you guys, no, you’re ruining medicine by not bloodletting.’

Oren: I mean, they do that.

Wes: I should’ve picked a different example, leeches or something.

Oren: Well I didn’t mean specifically bloodletting, I meant that when there are changes in medicine, there are also medicine professionals who resist them.

Wes: Oh, they don’t do that, yeah, that’s very true.

Oren: They don’t quite happen at the same speed that language change has happened though, usually you can see them happening at a slower rate, and they don’t come around as often, whereas language is changing every day. And I get it to a certain extent, sometimes I get annoyed when someone starts using words that I’ve never heard and they expect me to know what they mean, and I can understand how that could be a little annoying, but in most cases, the solution is to try to figure out what those words mean, you can Google them, it’s not usually that hard, instead of, for example- random example that I totally didn’t see in an editor’s group today- write a long thing about how English should have state mandated protections the way that French does, which is like, ‘No, oh God, no, please, please don’t, I get it, I was also kind of annoyed when I found out that “fight me” means “don’t fight me”, but we don’t need to get the government involved in this is.’

Wes: That is a fascinating thing though, because English is one of the few world languages that doesn’t have a governing body. Most do. And that fascinates me, because it really points out that we speak a language that morphs constantly, it’s a dirty pirate language, and it can do whatever it wants. And other languages have a harder time with that, mostly because of how things get published. Basically they have a national style guide and English doesn’t belong to anyone, and so anyone can change it, and that’s tricky at times for sure, but also fun and exciting.

Oren: Yeah. I guess I can see a little bit more- because I’m dyslexic, and so it took me a long time to learn to read because just memorizing different words was very hard for me, and there aren’t a lot of consistent rules in English, so I could see the appeal of having those be really consistent and making them really easy to learn, but I still don’t think getting the government involved is a good idea. I still think we can just agree not to do that.

Chris: I do think that English is great for writers because of the large vocabulary. It’s very useful to have lots of synonyms for things, so that you don’t end up being redundant.

Wes: I know, with enough dedication you can just do a whole sentence with words that start with ‘w’ if you really wanted to, you just gotta be patient and figure it out.

Chris: So let’s move on to talking about prescriptivism as it does or does not apply to storytelling. So we started with linguistics, and it’s easy to see how those linguistics concepts translate over to copy editing. But now when we get to storytelling, it just takes on a whole new level of ‘What?’

Oren: In my experience, in storytelling people call you prescriptivist when you try to explain that there are best practices in storytelling, and that not all choices are equally good, and that they won’t all produce an equally compelling story. Especially because usually the person is making one of those suboptimal choices, and they don’t like that you said that that wasn’t a great choice, and then they get mad at you and call you a prescriptivist. Not usually my clients though, because by the time they get to be my clients, they have decided to pay me money, so usually they’re past that stage, but a lot of angry commenters are like that, because Mythcreants has opinions that, for example, stories need conflict, and that character karma needs to be paid off, and those two really piss people off, they get so mad.

Chris: Or likability, likability really pisses people off.

Oren: Oh yeah, likability too. ‘I should like reading about them.’

Chris: So basically going back to the whole idea of goals, so people want to meet their goals. Generally at Mythcreants we assume that if you’re storytelling that you want to engage your audience, that you want to give them an entertaining experience, that you want to them to feel satisfied at the end so they recommend it to other people, and so we are assuming that those are your goals, now, all other goals of course are totally valid, but usually if that’s not your goal, you don’t need writing advice at all. Because you can just write whatever you want if you don’t need to please other people, if you only need to please yourself. So there’s no reason to go to a writing advice website, just write whatever makes you happy. But usually if you want your book to be accepted by an agent or publisher, you want it to sell well, your goal is to make other people like your work and engage them. So when we make recommendations we assume that those are your goals and our recommendations are tailored to those goals. From that perspective, it’s just kind of wild to call things prescriptivist, because once again, a descriptive- if we were just, ‘It doesn’t really work,’ we could say, we do hear commonly, ‘Well, you can’t say that’s bad because this popular book did it’, so we could be generous and say that we’re being called prescriptivist not just because the average work did it, which would be descriptive, this is what people happen to be writing, but that doesn’t support goals, or it doesn’t instruct people on how to meet those goals, but we could say, ‘Well, this popular best-selling book did it’.

We’ve talked about this fallacy numerous times and why it doesn’t work, and yeah, there’s a correlation between popularity and quality, but it’s just not strong enough, and every book has flaws, so you can’t necessarily say that because it’s in the popular book it’ll work for you. But the strange thing is I’ve also seen some commenters say that others are prescriptive but we aren’t.

Oren: To a certain extent that’s correct, because for example, we don’t tell people that they have to use the hero’s journey, or that they have to have this specific plot for this specific genre, because people get weird about writing, where at Mythcreants, we understand that storytelling is simple in concept but difficult in execution, and people often get mad at us because they want to try to change the concept, because they think that will help them at the execution level, but it never does. And then you get other people who think that there’s only one way to do the execution, and that you have to do it this way or it won’t work, and that’s almost never true. And we don’t do that because we know better. I’m sorry, there are only so many ways to say that we know storytelling better than a lot of these other people. If I wanted to be a jerk prescriptivist, I would just follow the rules from the French Academy in the 1600s era theater. ‘No ghosts, none of that, all stories must take place within one day, they can’t take longer than that. No action, action’s bad, get out of here with that action. There, now I’m a prescriptivist. Do you like me now?’

Chris: Well, again, there’s always going to be what you would consider needlessly restrictive advice. For instance, I have a blog post where I compare different books on writing science fiction, and there’s this one book, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by Crawford Kilian, that just has all of the stuff in it that’s just like, ‘All magic is about symbolism and ritual, and all science fiction and fantasy is about power and how to use it’, which, I mean, you could say that’s true, but you could also say that’s true for all stories, period. And he goes on about all of these traditional archetypes and tropes and about how crones mean evil knowledge or impending doom, and to me that just sounds like a lot of needless- why are you just telling people to copy already cliched tropes in their work? That sounds needlessly restrictive to me. I wouldn’t call him prescriptive because it just doesn’t mean anything. It seems to only mean that you think the restriction is unnecessary and has no value. It’s just a pejorative, but a lot of the people who are using it, they wouldn’t say that there are no rules for storytelling themselves, they’re the ones who might look at a story and say, ‘Wow, these characters are too flat’, as we’ve discussed, themselves. So if you ever criticize a story, you are implying that there are story best practices, which implies that at some level you support some kind of prescription, otherwise you couldn’t criticize anything, it’s just descriptive. Everything is valid.

Wes: And more likely than not it, again, going back to play this melody, but, they’re probably harping on just personal preferences. For example, if I’m going to just use an example on a word level, I might point out that if one of you used decimate to mean utterly destroying something, and I say, ‘Well, you know, it actually means to reduce by one 10th.’ Now, I should pause, and before I move to correct the next person who uses decimate to meet utterly destroyed, I really should consider, ‘Hey Wes, is this the hill you want to die on? Do you want your legacy to be that guy who endlessly groused about decimate? Are you happy with the life that goes-?’ But then the point is, if I make that choice, then am I going to also be okay with maybe Oren or Chris pointing out, ‘Oh, okay, so you don’t have any problem with that particular etymological purity, but what about words like nice or Frankfurt or half the month names in the Gregorian calendar?’ ‘I’m sorry, the ninth month is September? No, September means seventh month’. So people pick and choose, and that’s why we like to fall back on well-defined established rules over time, and Mythcreants has a very large catalog at this point of best practices to fall back on. So, hey, be prescriptive- I think we are appropriately prescriptivist.

Chris: Right, again, the big question is, is this a word that has enough meaning, that we could call ourselves prescriptivist, or is it just nothing but a pejorative, and it means nothing other than, ‘This is needlessly restrictive, and I don’t like it, and you’re not my real dad’?

Oren: I wouldn’t call myself that just because people who I hang out with use it to describe a real problem, which is people who get mad about marginalized uses of language, even if that’s not a particularly consistent definition, and in reality it would mean other things. I do sometimes want to call myself a prescriptivist just to rebel against the people who are mad that I tell them their story needs conflict. Because those people annoy me, so I sometimes want, to spite them, to embrace the prescriptive label, but I’m not gonna.

Wes: I don’t know, Oren, step onto this side, man.

Chris: The problem is it just doesn’t mean anything, the way that people use it, it means nothing, at least in storytelling terms. I will say one of the interesting things is when we’re talking about guidelines or recommendations or rules, that a lot of times when we give recommendations, we have commenters that are like just bursting at the seams to tell us what exceptions they think that there are to our guidelines. And in this case, most of the time when they mentioned, ‘Oh, I think this story actually did it well’, it didn’t, I’m sorry, most of the time it didn’t, but there are exceptions. Most rules have exceptions that doesn’t make the guideline moot. For instance, we recommend against omniscient first person. The existence of The Book Thief, which I haven’t read, but as far as I know does it well, doesn’t mean that that’s a bad recommendation. We recommend against omniscient first person because in almost all cases what you have is a character in the story that has no believable reason to be all-knowing. And that’s kind of unsatisfying, and it’s usually, often they’ll hide who the narrator is only to reveal it later, and you’ll be like, ‘Wait, it’s that guy? But how did that guy know these character’s inner thoughts?

Wes: Oh, that book was hilarious (!)

Chris: Right? So, but The Book Thief, for instance, has Death as the narrator, but it’s a very special case, whereas most people who are doing omniscient first person are not writing The Book Thief. And if we did this for every single recommendation- we stopped to qualify the niche, sometimes very, very tiny niche cases in which we could see this working- we just wouldn’t get anywhere, it would just take too long, we wouldn’t be able to write anything, and we also honestly keep in mind what we think is the skill level of most writers, because some things we don’t recommend because yeah, it’s technically possible, but I just don’t want to set people up to fail, I don’t want to tell them that they can do something that I know they’re going to go off and do and then they’re going to get really bad results, I want them to succeed. So we recommend against those things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s never an exception anywhere, or that the guideline isn’t useful just because there is an exception.

Oren: All right, well that’s a good thing to end this on, because I’m going to be prescriptivist and say that we’re over time and you have to end the podcast prescribing an end to it. So those of you at home, if anything we said piqued your interest you can leave a comment on the website at, but before we go I want to thank a few of our patrons, first we have Kathy Ferguson who is a professor of political theory in Star Trek, next we have Ayman Jaber, he is an urban fantasy writer and a connoisseur of Marvel, and finally we have Danita Rambo, and she lives at We’ll talk to you next week.

Chris: This has been the Mythcreants podcast, opening, closing theme, ‘The Princess who Saved Herself’, by Jonathan Coulton.

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

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