The Tycho School Of Writing

Avid readers of these snacksized portions of pointless stuff might have spotted a change in writing style around here. Bitter and arrogant as I have become, I dare say my writing has improved. Compared to one year ago, you’ll now find more text (not substance), profanity and mework details. You’ll find more odd synonyms than before and once in a while you’ll encounter words like poppycock and ooze.

I attribute this torrent of text to Penny Arcade’s Tycho Brahe, the comic alter-ego of Jerry Holkins—author of said web comic and master of fine words. In the minute chance that you do not already know of aforementioned author, I point you now to his pet project: ELotH:TES wiki. The Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs: The Elemenstor Saga is a virtual smorgasbord of intellectual satisfaction and a fine example of the razorsharp—forged in fire—Tycho style of writing.

The ELotH:TES wiki is but one, brilliant, example of his writing style, but the Tycho School of Writing—the school that I’ve been attending these past few months—requires delving into the semi-daily scribbles on the Penny Arcade frontpage. This is where Tycho details the process of distilling, no: concocting their wittiness, their anguish, their sarcasm and their friendly hate into comics. This is where one might uncover the nuggets.

To properly fathom the Tycho style of writing, one must understand what it means to write frontpage material for a massively popular website, and doing so several times a week. For years. Under such circumstances, unwritten rules crystallize, processes and methodologies unfold. Mistakes are made; corrected, learned from. I’m sure of it. The pen is sharpened into a scimitar.

I’m sure that there comes into play a number of mental ground rules in order for the process not to be excruciating and impossible. Rules such as allowing quality and length to vary; allowing wittiness to seep into even serious writing to polish the edges; forcing oneself to substitute dull words with more elaborate synonyms such as plethora and trachea. More importantly, below it all, there is an understanding that reading pixels just isn’t working out and that this is mildly alleviated by emphasizing that which matters most.

I have come to an acceptance. I have nothing to say and when I do grab the pen anyway, my words lack any shadow of substance. I’m now trying to take that lump of non-clay and turning it into something worthwhile and I attribute any successful attempts to Tycho. It is with great humility and sincere respect that I try to mimic his style. I believe my meager attempts at infusing my words with faux substance has worked and I believe the above text is far more interesting for that reason alone. It is mere bile compared to the actual substance oozing from the crevasses of Tychos masterfully woven works of text. Thanks to aforementioned, however, it is now bile almost worth reading. Completely unlike anything stemming from Rupert Murdoch.

7 thoughts on “The Tycho School Of Writing”

  1. The use of synonyms and more flowery language in general is nice. I prefer Stephen Fry’s style to Tycho’s though. Tycho’s seems to get lost in the archaicness of his language. This reduces a lot of his writings to rambling. Fry might hop from the one to the next subject whilst using clever synonyms, but always keeps sight of his main point. I find it clearer, less fuddled.

    In short, there is something to say for structure!

  2. Joen says:

    First of all, you’ll simply have to provide me a link to this… Fry.

    Secondly, structure is important, of course, but there’s also an aspect to consider, which is that Penny Arcade is technically a gaming blog run by two people, of which Tychos writings are the premier source of opinion. That means he does jump quite a lot in between paragraphs, something I actually like quite a lot. There’s a refreshing lack of perfect to his writings, replaced with simply digestible humorous writing that’s perfect for the medium. So while structure is definately worth considering for the university essay, the lack of it — in Tychos writing — to me, is a welcome relief.

  3. Linkage to the fry: http://stephenfry.com/blog/. His podcasts are quite a good listen too. He has a clarity of mind which is quite enviable.

    I must admit, I can’t really follow Tycho’s writing all that well. The subject matter doesn’t help, as I don’t have either Pokemon, X-boxen nor tabletop gaming experience (save Monopoly, Scrabble or Risk of course). Still, his use of phrases seems contrived at times, always going for the archaic, never the clever. Having words that only show off and don’t actually add anything extra (so purely using them as a synonym, not an inspired extra connotation) is a shame.

  4. Steven Fry is of course best known from TV. Here’s a sketch on linguistics, it seems appropriate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFD01r6ersw

  5. Joen says:

    I must give you that Stephens writing seems most excellent upon examination. Perhaps even better than Tychos.

    Even so, I still thoroughly enjoy Tychos writing, even if I don’t either follow the subject matter all too well. In fact, part of what impresses me is Tychos writing can give me a small snacksized taster of something I know very little about.

  6. Also, Little Gamers have a view of Tycho’s writing I can…relate too. (Still not saying it’s bad though!) http://www.little-gamers.com/index.php?comicID=1788

  7. Joen says:

    I do get that Tycho likes strange (but wonderful) words. I even acknowledge that he uses them superfluously. Well, so what? That’s part of what makes otherwise completely dull and useless reading, hilarious.

    I guess what I’m defending here isn’t Tychos razorsharp wit or his finely attuned writing skills. What I’m defending, trying to learn, and loving, are his tricks to making web-text worthwhile.

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