Checking in

deborah deborah at
Fri Jan 23 17:41:17 EST 2004

On Thu, 22 Jan 2004, Caroline Mills wrote:
|I find this annoying too, but isn't it meant to be more acceptable
|(desirable, even) in children's books?

Depends on who you ask, nd the intended audience.  There's a certain
constraint that writing for, say, 5 year olds will place on your prose
(though how much, again, depends on who you ask), but that constraint is
much lower when writing for 12 year olds.  Have you read DWJ's article
on writing for children vs. adults?

|My pet peeve is unneccessary
|clarification - for example when a character's thoughts are implied
|by a look, followed by "showing she thought that..." or similar.  This
|always jars me in Judith McNaught's books (quality reading...)

Definitely!  And pulp romances are tremendously guilty of that crime.  I
don't judge them by the same literary standards as I judge other books
(they live in a milk crate, even, not on the shelves), but it's still
annoying when we're told outright something we'd already figured out.
And yet it's part of the convention, even in the well-written ones
(Suzanne Robinson comes to mind).

My pet peeves of that type -- which also show up too much in romance
novels -- are the long string of one- or two-sentence paragraphs, and
the overuse of the ellipses.  I find both can make otherwise good prose
nearly unreadable.  Barbara Cartland is guilty of both, and Anne
McCaffery's Dragonsinger has almost no pages without ellipses.

Oh, and exclamation points!  Middle of the road children's fiction is
peppered with the things.  I think that when writers go to hell, they're
hung upside down in a vat of all the exclamation points they've ever

The cry has been that when war is declared, all opposition should
therefore be hushed.  A sentiment more unworthy of a free country could
hardly be propagated.  If the doctrine be admitted, rulers have only to
declare war and they are screened at once from scrutiny ...  In war,
then, as in peace, assert the freedom of speech and of the press.
Cling to this as the bulwark of all our rights and privileges.
                -- William Ellery Channing

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