Turkey City Lexicon

I referenced the Turkey City Lexicon in the prompt for this week, and if you check out the comments you’ll see that Luke was unfamiliar with it. I don’t know how many people are if they’ve never been to a fiction writer’s workshop. Not that  I have, but I am nonetheless familiar with it.

The Turkey City Lexicon is a list of common errors committed by writers of all levels of skill and experience, though most commonly by novices. An up-to-date version of the lexicon can be found here. The list is one that is constantly being added to and updated because of the nature of writing, what’s popular, and what maybe was once popular and has since become old hat.

A few things about the lexicon:

1) I think it should be read as often as Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. The refinement it provides to your writing style will pay off, and the more often you read through it, the more likely it is to become second nature.

2) Some of my favorite authors have been known to commit some of the errors listed in the lexicon. On the one hand, this may not carry much weight since, after all, a lot of the items listed have become part of the lexicon simply because of overuse. Some of my favorite authors were writing several decades ago, so they get a pass. On the other hand, it does give reason to take the lexicon with a grain of salt or two. You can be an excellent writer and still commit one or two of the errors in the list. It’s more a guideline for things best to avoid, not a rule book which must never be violated.

3) Every time I read it something in a story I’m working on springs to mind and I realize I’ve committed one of the errors listed in the lexicon. In a way it’s a little humbling, but in a way it’s good – it gives me something to work on. I know that my writing may not be best-seller material yet, but I can’t always put my finger on why. When I find something in the lexicon (or in Strunk and White, for that matter) that I know I’m guilty of, I can begin correcting and I know I’m one step closer to being a successful writer.

Take a read through the lexicon, be amused, and see how it helps your writing.


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