Typographic style (was; literary pet peeves)

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Mon Feb 10 14:22:17 EST 2003


<< Doesn't Mercedes Lackey overuse "damn" & italics a ton? >>

Oh, blargh, nowadays just about *everyone* overuses italics a ton! Think 
about it. use of italics was very sparing around mid-century, and earlier 
(probably because most printing houses only had the templates for one or two 
families what even had an italic cutting). With text going directly from disk 
to plate you could set ever second line in a different face or cutting and 
not feel that much of a strain. 

Another thing that you are seeing *everywhere* that used to be decidedly a 
minor trick was the section breaks with asterisks. Yes it's been around for 
decades. But it wasn't used anywhere nearly as often as it is now. Probably 
it was a pain for the typesetter and only used when deemed absolutely 
necessary.

I suppose that you can argue that this all makes it easier for the reeader to 
pick up the authorial intent -- although that's not proven, imho -- but it 
allows readers to be extremely lazy. Back when the earth's crust was still 
cooling, we were able to figure out pretty much what the author was talking 
about without having all these extra typographic clues herding out 
perceptions into the "one true interpretation". And we were able to figure 
out when the author was being ironic, or deliberately exaggerating or 
indulging in whimsey as well. 

What next? Emoticons to clue in the reader when a character is telling a 
joke? All this claptrap about not being able to tell what a poster on the 
'net intends without a smiley, indeed. When I was a kid, we learned to 
*read*, damnit! Between the lines, too. (grouse, grouse, grouse...)

>>Oh yeah, and action scenes just because the author thinks it's time we had 
another one (all those Encounters listed in the Tough Guide).  Gah.<<

I refer to this one as the D&D or RPG effect. (The author is constructing the 
plot on the basis of rolling dice. When an 8 [or whatever] comes up the party 
is attacked.)
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