Writers: DON’T DO THIS

okay, reading a deeply awesome Ancient Rome-set gladiator school book. Great characterisation, interesting plot, good side characters, made the story flow properly without making it seem like you’ve dumped all the research on the readers heads…


whenever the writer mentioned the gladiator training school, they used ‘ludus’ instead of ‘training school’, and when it came to clothing, ‘subligar’ instead of ‘loincloth’.


It literally brought me up with a jolt every time.

SERIOUSLY.  Don’t use words there’s a translation for when everyone’s speaking the same language.  A specific type of boat?  I see your trireme in the bay, it looks very menacing.  A specific weapon? Just don’t wave that trident near me. Type of wine? Pass the Falernian.  Just… not everyday items.  It just makes you look like you want to show that you did research when we can see you did your research already. A subligar’s not a bloody toga.  Everyone knows what a toga is, we literally don’t have any other word for ‘giant piece of cloth that you drape and wind around your entire body’.  But we do have a word for a loincloth.

I looked up ludus after finishing the book to confirm it meant what I thought it did.  I’d figured it out by context, but why didn’t you just use ‘training school’?  And worse sin by editor: ‘subligar’ and ‘ludus’ were italicised.  To draw even more attention to it.  You weren’t using ’panem’ every time you mentioned them eating bread.


Costuming peeves

Just realised this one really was doing my head in.

It’s the semi- post apocalyptic event films and tv series, the ones where a hundred or so years have passed.  Enough for a few generations and stories about the old world.  The cities/towns were destroyed, or maybe they had to flee, or they’re in space.  Whatever.

And they’re still wearing current clothing.

That clothing is normally a bit battered, washed out and a tiny bit threadbare. Maybe a couple of holes. There’s no darning or patching, no-one’s wearing those hand-knit gapey sweaters you see in a lot of post apocalyptic stuff or even the mad max/waterworld futures where nearly everyone’s in leather and bits of handmade chainmail.

Excuse me while I reach through the screen and yell at the person responsible for costuming.  it won’t take a minute.  Okay.  maybe a few.

Clothing does not survive that long.  Especially the store-bought stuff of now.  Cotton and linen and wool and silk *rots*.  Most importantly, if everyone’s only got a few changes of clothing, it’s going to wear out. Anything polyester will wear out even faster than the natural fibre stuff. Much faster than it will now, when you’ve got several changes of clothing and you’re not doing much manual labour that would produce extra wear and tear.

The clothing of the 1910s that still exists has been carefully stored.  it’s not been worn every day by a population that needed every scrap of clothing it could get its hands on, which got darned and patched until it got cut up for rags, which is what happened to 99% of the clothing from that era and beyond.

And the stuff of the last few decades isn’t of half the quality.  The material isn’t as sturdy.

So yes, costuming, I am glaring at you.  Give me hand-knit sweaters, dammit.