Almost finished with the big article. In fact, I wrote the last line (replaying a motif that had been brought up elsewhere-- no limit, no net):
No limit, no fear, and no net fiction.
Hmm. I looked at that and knew that those "no" adjectives all needed hyphens ("What's net fiction? And why should we have none of it?"). But I didn't wanna! I just knew they'd visually detract from my point that this is fiction with anarchy. Hyphens sort of, you know, deny anarchy.
And if I hadn't just done that damned blog entry about compound adjectives, I might have just neglected to fix them. But I kept hearing, "Heal thyself, and all that."
But I still didn't want hyphens.
You know, the next time some writer tells me how "constricting" grammar is, I'm going to point to this. When I started looking at that line and trying to get around the whole hyphen thing, I realized that the terms that were most interesting, most exciting, most intense were buried as compound adjectives. Yeah, buried. Anything in the middle of a sentence is buried. It's the beginning of the paragraph (and this was at the end), and the end of the sentence where there's power. And I was wasting that powerful final real estate on an important but not very interesting word, fiction. So when I contemplated how yucky hyphens would be, I understood why they'd be yucky-- because they would call attention to the marginal position of what ought to be the big culminating terms.
Once I realized that, and realized that I wanted to END on one of the "no" terms (I'm still debating which one... probably "no limit" because it's the longest), I immediately came up with a STATEMENT, yes, a point, a sentence (with a colon, but this is academic writing-- I mean, colons and semicolons rule) which didn't just present my pretty terms, but put them in the context of the whole paper:
This is fiction at its most elemental: No fear, no net, no limit.
I'm still fiddling here, as "this is" is sort of lame, and I really prefer "story" to "fiction," as "fiction" implies prose and print, and I mean film and TV too. But that can wait (I'm presenting just a short version of this, not the long version, which isn't really done :). I have solved the hyphen issue by analyzing what I really want to mean.
Limitation is liberation, and that actually is sort of the message of my whole paper, though it has nothing to do with hyphens.