Pet (Writerly) Peeves

via Scott Treimel (my agent & bossman):

I understand our use of language is fluid. There seems no reason to harp that “all right” is two words. (Why they remained separated when already was formed I do not know.) The use of well vs good is another lost cause. Answering How are you? with I’m good still sounds like editorializing to me, but sobeit. (I love writing that as one word, which I do in honor of my mentor Marilyn Marlow, who insisited on it.)

We bow to the vagaries of usage at different rates. I myself continue to appreciate the difference between “anxious” and “eager” and am surprised, unhappily, to see writers conflate the two. Another of my bugaboos: fewer vs less. Fewer units sold, so the book made less money is correct. Less buyers are to blame is wrong.

I hated seeing sneaked give way to snuck, but I feel that train left the station and cannot be brought back.

Yesterday I told a writer his protagonist, in context, would not feel “disgust”; she would feel “disdain”.* The writer said, Why, they are indistinct. No, no, a thousand times no. The difference between those words, in context, is the difference between his character and another.

We welcome your slings and arrows.


* That writer was me, FYI, and Scott was right! -JMC



  1. Dear Mr. Cusick,
    I have read your book, Girl Parts, and I wish you would make a sequel to it. The ending was less than satisfying (with all do respect) because well I have so many questions; where is Rose? Who took her away? Why is David with his ex? What about Charlie?
    I appologize for being blunt but the end seemed rushed. I loved the whole other part of the book. Thank you.

    1. Hi Julia,

      As a matter off act (or mazzafact as my grandmother would say), I *am* working on a sequel. In the meantime, a new Girl Parts story will soon be up on should answer some of your questions.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Mine is “disinterested” for “uninterested.” A lost battle, too, I fear.

    I loved the way my grandmother used “presently” to mean “soon.” Wish I could get away with that.

    Worst of all is the “its” “it’s” distinction. Even my son’s high school English teacher (who blogs for the New York Times) got this wrong! Please fight that fight.

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