Mar 092013

I am quite sure that “went viral” doesn’t fit my present circumstances — a bit hyperbolic, I’d say. But it’s always nice to have someone in the press using the phrase next to one’s name. The Winnipeg Free Press, BTW, is a venerable Canadian journalistic institution.


A Canadian author’s book on writing went viral on social media recently, leading to thousands of would-be fiction writers searching their manuscripts for “Copula Spiders.”

Douglas Glover’s book Attack of the Copula Spiders (Biblioasis) coins the term to refer to the multi-appendaged mess created by circling and linking all of the variations of the verb “to be” in a paragraph. (Copula is a term for the link between subject and predicate of a verb.) Excessive use of sentence constructions like “he was happy” or “the building was unassuming” lead to “flaccid and uninteresting prose,” he writes.

Joe Ponepinto, book review editor of the Los Angeles Review, brought Glover’s ideas to the literary world in a much-circulated blog post subtitled “Why I’ll never write (or read) the same way again.”

via Cameron Dueck’s arts column – Winnipeg Free Press.

  5 Responses to “DG goes “viral” @ Winnipeg Free Press”

  1. The attention: richly deserved, dg!

  2. Nice! While I am generally not keen on viruses, this particular strain has the potential to alter the DNA of many species of writing and create a new, flaccid-resistant genetic mutation that could benefit humankind.

  3. Long overdue! I was happy to see that people were thinking about the way they’d been writing, and are probably still writing, even if they try to be better than they are (or were). I know I am!

  4. Ummm … I meant to say:
    Excellent news: people like myself thinking critically about their lazy writing habits, which I suspect persist, despite their best efforts,.

  5. The point: how many times in a writing session do I make some version of this revision? Too many! But Doug (and Elizabeth Bowen) taught us to count the verbs and inventory our sentences. For instance … Sentence #1: 36 words, three verbs (one of them repeated), & 8 copulas.
    Sentence #2: 20 words, 4 verbs (thinking writing, suspect, persist) one verbal noun (efforts).
    The result speaks for itself
    Consciousness well-raised and time well spent.

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