One of the first things that was handed to me when I started as an editor in the Book Department of TSR in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, was a copy of what then managing editor Barb Young called “The Foresooth File.” I don’t remember who actually wrote it, but it was most likely drawn up by one, two, or all three of the following TSR editors: Barb Young, Bill Larson, and/or Marlys Heeszel. With thanks to all three of them, I’ve been using this ever since, even while advising authors time and time again just not to go there in the first place.

But sometimes it makes sense, in a fantasy novel, that a character or two talk like this. It can make them sound more aristocratic, or maybe they come from the “old country” . . . whatever the reason, if you’re going to do it, you should do it right.

Here we go:


2nd person singular of “be,” present tense.

“Thou art a fool, McFoolio.”


Read the rest in…

Editor and author Philip Athans offers hands on advice for authors of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and fiction in general in this collection of 58 revised and expanded essays from the first five years of his long-running weekly blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook.


—Philip Athans


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Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Nubriema says:


    I gotta say, this is really helpful – I actually stumbled across your blog searching for an advice on capitalization in fantasy novels (found it, and that was pretty much of use to me, too), and now I got stuck with your posts.

    Actually, I have to thank you for this article above – I always searched for such a plain list of these old forms but couldn’t find one, and since I’m German, I haven’t really a clue I can work from.
    This saves me a whole lot of researching via Google, not to mention that your other entries seem interesting enough for me, too.

    So, thanks for doing this – you’ve got a new subscriber. 🙂



  3. Pingback: ANOTHER POST ON THE SUBJECT OF DIALOG? | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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