Gower, The Grandmaster of the Written Word

Member Since


Last Activity

1/20/2022 2:40 PM

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Duel Stats

0 wins / 0 losses


Notorious Marauder Exemplar



"He was slightly less unfun."




"Somehow there was comfort in coffee despite his misery; the only comfort in a black world." -- Hornblower in the West Indies


Trophies Earned

Earning 100 Points Earning 500 Points Earning 1,000 Points Earning 2,000 Points Powerful Professor with an A plus grade on many aspects of this site. Be it writing, helping others, or a positive attitude while doing those things. Having 3 Storygame(s) Featured Rated 94.8% of all Stories Given by BerkaZerka on 12/14/2019 - For an inspiring display of creativity ^v^ Given by EndMaster on 01/07/2020 - You may be fooling the rest, but I know you’re up to no good. Given by Killa_Robot on 02/24/2021 - For having all the best words. Also great contributions to the site. Given by MadHattersDaughter on 03/29/2021 - Your stories are some of my favorites on the site. I’m still not convinced you are not my writing doppelganger. . . Given by mizal on 10/11/2019 - For your exceptional games and articles, many forum contributions, and disturbing sweetness and light. (Sorry about McAllen, it wasn’t our idea either.) Given by Will11 on 10/12/2019 - For your excellent stories and many worthwhile contributions to the site :)


Featured Story Kelly Unicornstrider and Friends (1982-1985) Super Quiz

A comprehensive quiz + bonus fan faction about the the underrated cult classic show "Kelly Unicornstrider and Friends" (1982-1985). Questions range from really easy to really difficult.

Featured Story Private Game for Natalie

I think putting this on "publish" makes it so only we can see this. It's just for us, sweetie. I made it to celebrate our anniversary and remember some special intimate moments together over the years in an interesting way as a present for you.

I hope you love it, Natalie, as much as I love you!

(Of course if there's any admin looking at this, or if I messed up, don't read this, because it's got private things in it.)

Featured Story Sabbatical Report Presentation

This is my required report to the full faculty in accordance with the rules noted in the Faculty Handbook (version 15.1, as of October 2017)

Sixteen Words

"Personally I can only read 16 words in one go before words stop working," wrote Mizal.


This game has sixteen words per path.  Not counting "The End."  So you can play quickly.


When reviewing, please use precisely sixteen words.   That should be plenty for your suggestions and observations.


Note this challenge connected with this game:  Write the Last Page!

Articles Written

Basic Sentence Structure: Additive Sentences
Comma Use and Additive Sentences with lots of examples

Cumulative Sentences, Part 1
An introduction to the sophisticated and elegant cumulative sentence style.

Cumulative Sentences, Part 2
Master the elusive and attractive cumulative sentence by using panning and zooming style of description.

Dialogue Punctuation
This is a brief discussion of how to punctuate dialogue in US and UK English. It also notes a few rules for quotation mark use in general.

Relative Sentences
A lecture on how to write relative sentences using restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

Semicolons and Advanced Additive Sentences
This article explains how to use semicolons to create new types of additive sentences. It includes the plain semicolon and semicolons with transition words.

All about Trophies.

Understanding Style: The Sweet Style
An introduction to style, focusing on "sweet" style. How to recognize it, when to use it, and when to avoid it.

Recent Posts

New Addition (Kinda Sorta) With Lots of Ideas? on 1/8/2022 5:36:23 PM

Hey, @DerekMetaltron, nice to see you.  I hope you enjoy the stories.  There's many different types of diverse games here, and lots of great opportunities to explore different characters and experiment with all sorts of protagonists.

Loser's Bracket Vote on 12/8/2021 9:27:38 AM

This will likely not be of interest to anyone who isn’t deeply interested in sentence structure and the rhythm of prose, but here’s a thing I wanted to say about sentence style, using these stories as examples:


“Pre drop nerves always sucked. Today was no different for Private Bell of the U.E.S.C. “Heh, at least today I'm not dropping alone.” Running a hand through his short, blonde hair Bell took a deep breath. Nervously he brought up his in-pod display to see how long before it would be to go time. Seeing that there was less than twenty-five seconds left Bell grimaced.”


When I read this passage, the first thing I noticed was that the sentence rhythm was quite similar for every sentence.  The author uses some participles to try cumulative structure (“Running a hand…”; “Seeing that there was…”) but because the author didn’t comma after those clauses, the sentences all feel really staccato.




Running a hand through his short, blonde hair Bell took a deep breath.

Running a hand through his short, blonde hair, Bell took a deep breath.


Seeing that there was less than twenty-five seconds left Bell grimaced.

Seeing that there was less than twenty-five seconds left, Bell grimaced.


Putting that comma in, the rhythm of the sentences shifts to the end of the sentence, putting a more interesting stress on “Bell” and “breath” and “left” and “grimaced”; without the comma, the sentence sounds flat.  This effect is exacerbated by the first three sentences, which are pretty simple sentences, rhythm-wise; the first sentence has an implied subject (“nerves sucked [for the U.E.S.C. soldiers]; the second sentence has “was” as the verb, and “today” as the subject, keeping the protagonist character to the end of the sentence.


These are tiny little effects, but they add up to create a less interesting stylistic effect.





Cold steam hisses through your pod as you awake from your deep slumber. Your whole body feels numb, dead, needing to be revived. With your eyelids heavy, you can only make out strange silhouettes beyond the fogged glass—red lights. There’s a moment you can’t breathe. Two. Your lungs don’t work. Two needles shoot up your spine. The sharp penetration, cold liquid forcing itself up your back. The soft embrace of deep slumber.


So here, you have all different sentence rhythms and structures.  Sentence one hits us with two interesting ideas right away—the cold steam and the awakening, followed by a periodic sentence for sentence two (that numb, dead, needing to be revived is interesting and different from the pattern of the first sentence, and notice how that list hits us with two one-word adjectives (numb, dead) and then mixes it up with the present participial phrase “needing to be revived.”—that’s really mixing things up.)  The third sentence makes a cumulative move (“with your eyelids heavy,”) and has the comma there for the brief pause, and uses the em dash for a longer pause.

This longer sentence is followed by a much shorter sentence (“There’s a moment you can’t breathe”) followed by a single word:  “Two.”

Then in a really good move, we get what looks like fragments but what is actually a sort-of disassembled cumulative sentence:  “Two needles shoot up your spine. The sharp penetration, cold liquid forcing itself up your back. The soft embrace of deep slumber.”  The first of those clauses is a complete sentence—that’s the independent clause.  The rest are incomplete sentences, serving as the dependent clauses.  (Actually, I would probably prefer “penetrating sharply” rather than “the sharp penetration”—but I think it works well as it is.

Students always ask me if authors actually think about these things when they write or if I’m just having a grammar wank.  (They don’t say it in those words.)  The truth is this:  writers feel this stuff in their bones even if it doesn’t ascend to their conscious decision-making process.  You look at a paragraph and you feel the rhythm in there, and then later people can come and point to stuff and say why it’s cool.  But that’s completely secondary. 

How do you get good at this sort of thing?  You read a lot, and you read everything.  Read aloud.  Listen to recorded books that have a good narrator.  All of the explicit grammar instruction probably isn’t going to help.  It’s pretty much just go out there and devour page after page of all different styles, even ones you find challenging.






Loser's Bracket Vote on 12/7/2021 6:30:55 AM

Story 2.

Winner's Bracket Vote on 12/3/2021 7:52:30 PM

I vote for the enticingly titled "Story #2" without any comment whatsoever.

Soy vs Darius on 12/3/2021 7:44:39 PM

I pick "The Chosen Child."  I thought the writing was much more sophisticated, and I really liked how it worked to evoke a particular atmosphere and tone, leaning more on those things than plot.

Bracketed Dueling #1 on 11/22/2021 4:06:44 PM

I'll go for 2 here, even though I was reaching for my red pen the entire time.  I guess I was doing that for story 1, too. 

I don't know.  I thought there were a few interesting bits of prose in there, and it had a pretty decent hook; the plot itself was decent as well, as opposed to story 1, which sort of ended squib-like.

Bracketed Dueling #2 on 11/22/2021 4:02:28 PM

Definitely Story 1.  The mechanics of writing were much more polished than Story 2, and the pacing and narration were smoother.  I felt much more authorial control in Story 1.  Story 2 clearly had some interesting stuff going on, but I thought it had too much set up, making it too bottom-heavy, whereas Story 1 had interesting writerly stuff going on in the prose right away.

I've got a confession on 11/15/2021 4:02:56 PM
Just popping in to say hi and introduce myself, but also state the reason for the probably-surprising migration.


I wasn't super surprised.  Welcome, and enjoy the games here.

mods, a proposition on 11/9/2021 6:00:48 AM

Now I kind of want it to be in a valley of pineapples, though.

Corgi vs Fem - Vote! on 10/13/2021 5:39:31 AM

As far as I am concerned, they were essays on As You Like It.  They looked more like them than the ones I received this week.