Word Cruft

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

Many new Tropers are unpracticed at economical writing. With that in mind, the following guidelines may be helpful:

  • But enough about that, let's talk about me!: "This Troper is shocked that we have gone so long without mentioning..." "As far as this troper can remember..." This self-insertion can inevitably be removed without changing the content of the example. Although after you do so, you might find it has no content.
  • Bogus intensifiers: Instances of "and even", "an entire", "literally" and "totally" can usually be like totally even literally zapped entirely, for real.
  • Bogus qualifiers: As can most instances of "basically", "just about", and "pretty much", though a little more rewriting may be required.
  • Unnecessarily sesquipedalian verbiage: "Due to the fact that" sounds high-falutin' and fancy, but just say "because".
  • Conversation masquerading as example: Paragraphs beginning with "although", "considering", "to be fair", "on the other hand" or "in defense of" can usually be safely merged into the preceding paragraph. Or just deleted and the thing being discussed, often just one word, replaced.
  • Passive aggression masquerading as example: Paragraphs beginning with "actually", "sorry" or "do you really" can be deleted to improve the wiki; if they actually have a point, this usually means that the paragraph preceding them can be deleted too.
  • No no no no yes: An inexplicable variant on the above where the poster starts off with "not true" or "actually, what really happened is", spends the next few sentences rambling about something tangentially connected at best, and then wraps up by saying "so yes, that actually is right after all."
  • Prolongation: robo-speech: Some poor souls begin every example with "Subversion:" or "Inversion:" or "Film example:" or, in desperate cases, "Another example:". The motivation, of course, is to delay, even for a moment, that dread instant when they have to start saying something. The only significant effect is that they sound like a robot from a '50s B-Movie. Easy to clean up.
  • Technologically-aided obfuscation: The reverse of the previous syndrome—an entire example with no mention of what story it's from, but for a tiny link buried behind one character's name. Possibly they are laboring under the misapprehension that something more complicated must be better. Easy to expand back into something readable without mousing over random words.
  • Someone should totally look into that: "Does anyone remember a show called...?" "Wasn't there an episode where...?" An excellent question! Someone should totally look into that. Deleted!
  • Played straight and subverted: A mysterious piece of fluff stuck on the front of random examples. The cool thing is that if you take the time to decode it, it means: "something happens, unless it doesn't". Sometimes, it means "Played straight [here], then subverted [there] in the same work." In other words—there are two (or more) examples from the same work. Sort out which one it is and make the appropriate correction; if it's cruft, cut it. If it's two different examples from the same work, separate them into two sub-bullets.
  • How did we miss ...: Some individuals are addicted to sticking How Did We Miss This One? or So Yeah onto their examples like ugly verbal warts.
  • Mind-boggling verbal tics: Science cannot explain it, but certain tropers reflexively prepend "of course", "bear in mind" or "do note" (or in one terminal case: "of course, do bear in mind") to every single example they write. "Not to mention..." is another, as are "Heck..." and "Of all things". Just mention it or don't mention it. The preamble doesn't help. Until a cure can be found, the best that can be hoped is that these people are tracked down and sent to the Troper Institution For Re-Education Using Raspberry Jam And Live Marmosets.
  • 'Subverted' as verbal chaff: Sticking "subverted by" (or worse yet, "semi-subverted" or "partially subverted") at the start of a paragraph is not a license to spend the rest of said paragraph noodling around on whatever topic randomly crosses your lobes. Nor is "subverted" a magical word that takes on whatever meaning you like, including "not actually subverted at all". See above re. "marmosets".
  • Unnecessary "clarification": "To clarify", "to expand", and "to elaborate" all look really clumsy in an article, especially when the troper who puts it in feels the need to create a new bullet for it. And even when merged into one paragraph, it makes it look like the wiki is arguing with itself. This falls under the Repair, Don't Respond umbrella.
  • About Rhetorical Questions: This isn't the author's fault. Rhetorical questions are a very useful device! Unfortunately, an explosion in a lead paint chips factory in Montana has left a fair chunk of the internet with the approximate IQ of a retarded gibbon. If you pose a rhetorical question, or anything that could by the remotest stretch be interpreted as a rhetorical question, someone will respond to it seriously and then pat himself on the back (with his long, gibbon-like arms) for his amazing internet wit. The probability of this happening is 1. Do not write rhetorical questions.
  • Justifying A Not-Quite-An-Example: "Arguably", "quite possibly", "many believe", and the rest of their ilk are a sign that either the example may not be an example at all, and that the editor who added it knows that, deep in his/her/their heart of hearts; or that the editor is trying to slide a YMMV in on the main page instead of the YMMV tab. If the former appears to be the case, move the example to the discussion page with a request for clarification before it's restored. If the latter, move it to the YMMV tab.
  • Hyperbolic comparatives: "X is built on this trope," "X is the quintessential example," "X is the Most Triumphant Example," "If you thought that was great," etc. Examples operate on their own merits, not in comparison with other examples. Calling something the "greatest X ever" is highly subjective, not to mention irrelevant. If you find yourself doing this, strip out all the fluff and just tell us what's going on.
  • Positional comparatives: "Like the example above," "Unlike the previous example," etc. Tropes may be renamed. Articles may be folderized or resorted. Additional examples can be added between two adjacent ones. Examples can be deleted. Avoid any examples that reference other examples by virtue of their position in a list—use the work name or trope name instead. If you're comparing two examples within a particular trope, consider rewriting them as a single example, or just don't compare them in the first place.