On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pet Peeves

Every time I go to the store and read the "Ten Items or Less" billboard I grit my teeth. One time -- once -- I actually saw the sign written correctly, "Ten Items or Fewer," and congratulated the cashier. She had no idea what I was talking about.

Grammar questions quickly get me into deep weeds, but this is one point on which I'm rock-solid. It is this:

Less -- non-delineated category
Fewer -- delineated category

I say that I have LESS free time than I used to, but I have FEWER minutes to spend as I please. I have LESS sand to move, but FEWER shovelsful of sand to lift.

A related concept is Further and Farther.

Further -- nonmeasurable distance
Farther -- measureable distance

I read FURTHER about the event as I read FARTHER down the page. I went FURTHER into my thoughts as I walked FARTHER down the road.

When I was in middle school I was a voracious reader, a book a day, but grammar seemed irrelevant to me. When I started having my work professionally edited I began to appreciate how important are these picky little points. Yes, grammar matters, if for no other reason than that it augments the precision of our communication.


  1. I knew that about less/fewer, although I'd never thought about it in regards to express lanes :). And I didn't realize that about further/farther, so now I feel like I need to double-check that in everything I've written...

    My biggest pet peeve is, "I could care less." Um, wrong. You mean, "I couldn't care less." If you can care less, then you do care some, which is not what you are trying to say at all.

  2. Kat, ohh, you're so right!

    How about this one: People talk about getting "perks" in their job. No, it's "perquisites," or "perqs." Or how about in a novel where the heroine "pours" over the pages of a text. Love the imagery of that one. How about "pores?"

    These are fun. Thanks Kat!