Weeping Wednesday: KISSing Mr. Murphy

On Weeping Wednesday, we examine passages from published prose that brought tears to our eyes – either tears of joy or despair.

Today we take a look at a self-published book (and thus I won’t release the name that goes with this incriminating evidence). I have kept punctuation exactly as it appears in the novel.


He always believed in not over engineering a solution and kept to the KISS principle. KISS stood for keep it simple stupid or you would be asking for Mr. Murphy to rear his ugly head screwing everything up. Murphy’s Law states that whatever could go wrong; will go wrong.


All right. So, first off, that middle sentence is just a mess of clauses. Try diagramming that sentence!

That middle sentence also makes it difficult to see what KISS actually stands for – we might get “keep it simple stupid,” but don’t you usually capitalize the parts of an acronym?

Please make sure you use standard punctuation. A semicolon in the middle of that last sentence? Arg!

Finally… overexplain much? I suppose it’s fair to say that not everyone will know what KISS or Murphy’s Law are. Still, this isn’t the way to explain it. Have a character ask what it is, or leave it mysterious for the reader until later on in the book. (Michael Crichton does this well in Congo, and a similar tactic is used to humorous effect in Tony Bedard’s Negation.)

Of course, avoiding overexplaining requires an author to show, not tell. And this book isn’t that good on that score!


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