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minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Jan 23 18:46:46 EST 2004


Deborah wrote:

>On Thu, 22 Jan 2004, Caroline Mills wrote:
>|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).

Comics may be the worst of all.  They have a caption saying "he hit him",
at the bottom of a picture of the Hero hitting the Villain, with a speech
balloon from his mouth containing the words "I shall hit you, Villain!!!"

Well, all right, I exaggerate, but that is sometimes the general impression.

>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.

Erm.  (Memo to self: must cut back on the ellipses, they are something that
irritates Deborah.)  I just went and looked at *Dragonsinger*, and there is
no ellipsis on the first page; the next page without is page 11, and that
has only 35 words on it, so I don't think it really counts.  I did find
three whole pages in a row, near the middle, that don't have any ellipses
on them, though.  :-) (I had to hunt really quite hard.)

>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
>used.

In that case Georgette Heyer is in trouble: in some of her books nobody
ever seems to speak without they bellow at each other, even when it is
clear from the text that they are speaking softly.  As it were, "Leave me!"
he murmured.  Or "Don't wake him!" she breathed.  My favourite is the man
who has been seriously wounded in a duel and is lying nearly unconscious on
the floor: "'I believe -- I shan't die -- this time -- either!' whispered
Lethbridge."  Ah well.  I forgive her anyway, because she's fun to read.

Minnow


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