483: Fiction Rule of Thumb
|Fiction Rule of Thumb|
Title text: Except for anything by Lewis Carroll or Tolkien, you get five made-up words per story. I'm looking at you, Anathem.
Randall uses a graph that purports that the more words an author makes up, the less likely their book is any good. To demonstrate this, he provides an example where a hypothetical author uses three made up words, "Fra'as", "Farmlings", and "Krytoses". The latter of these words are described very unprofessionally as being "like swords but awesomer" (and of course "awesomer" is itself a made-up word). The author clearly does not see that having to insert explanations of all the made up words makes the sentence extremely clumsy.
The title text declares that the average author is allowed five invented words per book before this rule is invoked against them, but mentions that J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll are exceptions, as they are both very famous, well-respected writers who made words up all the time.
Randall also makes a dig at Anathem, a speculative fiction novel by Neal Stephenson about a monastic order on another planet that studies science, mathematics, and philosophy. The book is noteworthy for having a very large number of made-up or repurposed words, enough to require its own glossary. One of the more common fake words is fraa (without an apostrophe).
- [Line graph shown with an inverse curve.]
- [Y-Axis: Probability book is good.]
- [X-Axis: Number of words made up by author.]
- [The curve becomes less steep as the number of words increase.]
- "The Elders, or Fra'as, guarded the farmlings (children) with their krytoses, which are like swords but awesomer..."