A Guide to Life

Sometimes I pick up books with titles spouting wisdom, like “everything a girl needs to know in her 20s” or “how to run a modern household.” Some of the information is always new, and some of it I know. I just find it interesting to read.

I suppose part of the reason why is to gain perspective into what others might want, to use as a character (possibly) or to use the information in a story. Of course, that would mean restricting it to the real world, but all sorts of items can be adapted to other locations.

It occurs to me that I read Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy and the follow-up Extras and not one of his female protagonists ever talked about her shoes. Okay, so there are only two protagonists through those four books, but don’t you think shoes would come up at some point? Especially in the Prettytime, when everything was about the aesthetic value and their brains had been altered to think that way (about aesthetics, not about forgetting shoes).

Since most of the guides I’ve read are about women’s lives, I think next time I hit the library I’ll look for a male counterpart. Is there a male counterpart to those guides on how to live as a girl? That would definitely make interesting reading, even though most men don’t dote on shoes like women.

I bet they’d be missing the section on manicures and pedicures…

Other than that, I am sure there should be something to apply to men. It’s not like men get a free ride on stuff women somehow don’t learn growing up. ¬†[And to be fair, it’s not like our mothers didn’t try to teach us to check the labels on clothing for care like dry cleaning or ¬†machine wash warm-tumble dry low. I was listening. Very few clothes are cute enough to have to dry clean all the time.]

The answers are out there. Sometimes you just have to find the right question. And don’t spout 42 at me. If you don’t know what the question was, you can’t necessarily say it’s the answer to everything.

Another Style Guide

According to Mashable, Yahoo now has its own style guide. It differs from the AP style guide, one cited example is email where the official AP still says e-mail.

It’s not just going to be a style guide, though. There will also be tips for writing on the web and how to get traffic to see your site.

So how many style guides do we need? It’s difficult to keep up with the English language as it is, so let’s throw more options into the mix. Does it make you wonder what it takes to set yourself up as an expert? Do you need anything official to create an official guide? Who decides where the language is going, if not the people who use it?

And if it’s the people who use it, aren’t we in deep, deep trouble?

English can’t be an easy language if so many of the native speakers can’t get the written word right. (The spoken words have issues, too, but perhaps not as many due to the informality of most speech.) Is it because English keeps evolving? Because it keeps borrowing words from every other language and making up more as needed? Is the versatility that makes English good for finding a proper word also bad for learning it?

Will there be an answer if the masses believe that if someone can make out a meaning, it’s good enough? When I’m writing, I like second opinions to make certain my intent is coming through. Often it doesn’t come through exactly like I envisioned it. So I dig through the issues until I fix it.

Not that it isn’t a great opportunity for humor where there’s more than one meaning, but a writer isn’t able to turn to the reader with that condemning look and say, “You know what I mean.”

That’s one reason for a style guide – to give a set way to put things on paper. To know where to punctuate and why, along with a ton of other stuff non-writers probably don’t give much thought to.

Which is why we can bandy their words about when they put them out there. Oh, such great games to play. Almost makes me want to go start a pun war.