Words That Aren’t

I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I can say whatever I want about writing here and go on a little rant with a purpose.

I hate words that aren’t really words. I have two specific ones in mind that will explain everything.

“Anthill” and “bloodred.”

Let me tell you something: No matter what you say or do, there is absolutely nothing on this planet that can convince me those are words that should ever be used in writing. Ever.

“Ant hill.” “Blood-red.” Nothing else will fly with me but these spellings. I can fairly well deal with “ant-hill” or “blood red.” But anything else is completely unacceptable to me.

The first spellings I provided will not be re-typed, because I hate them, but they just can’t be pronounced the way they’re intended in my head. “An-thill” and “bluh-dred” are how I pronounce them upon reading and have to take a minute to try and figure out what’s going on. “Ant hill” without the space sounds like a type of metal to me. And “blood-red” without the hyphen sounds like some kind of thing relating to morbidity or something. It’s a little vaguer.

But what I’m getting at is clarity. If someone has to take a moment to figure out what in the world you’re talking about because you want to save space and smush words together, then you’re not being clear. It takes me out of the story. Because I have to stop and try to understand what you mean. You don’t have to reveal everything in your stories, but being clear about what you do want the readers to know is of the utmost importance. It is also important to make sure they don’t think about how they’re reading a book. You want them to feel a part of your world. But removing spaces between two separate words is totally unacceptable, because not everyone will know what you mean.

Unless it is in the dictionary and completely and totally established within society, stick with the spelling that provides the most clarity. One case where you have to kind of go with the times is the transition from “E-mail” to “email.” It’s still apparent what it means, but I honestly hate the lack of dash and still continue to use “e-mail” so the meaning is clearer. And because I’m a creature of habit. Having the capital “E” now seems very dated, because it was only done that way for a while after it was introduced. There’s not been an established thing saying that the two spellings I introduced at the beginning are accepted by society. And even if there was, I would hate it.

In short, stop cutting spaces out between two perfectly good words. They don’t need your help. They are presented the way they are for a reason. It makes sense as is and doesn’t need someone to say that they should be smushed into one word. Most words need a space between them. They are separate and should be presented separately. The normal spellings are not shameful. There is nothing wrong with them. Just chill out and leave the spaces in. There’s nothing you need to rush for so much that “ant hill” can’t have a space in it. Slow down. Enjoy the ride.

And if you’re trying to fit into a limited word count, you can probably do with cutting something else. Smushing words into each other is just sad. And it makes me sad. So don’t do it.

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