Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Things in books that are lame

Hey, I remembered (all on my own!) what I wanted to blog about last night: Things That Bad Authors ::couDANBROWNgh:: Do That Both Drive Me Nuts And DEFINITIVELY PROVE That He Or She Is A Bad Author. See, this is why this wasn't the title of this post; I was feeling very strident about it last night. So I invite you, the reader!, to comment and add to the list the things that frost your cookies when it comes to bad writing. But here is my list (so far), and please to note the asterisks indicating the "stylistic manoeuvres" employed in "The DaVinci Code." (God I hated that book.)
  • *People don't speak, say or tell nearly as often as they "grin." ::aaaARRGgggh::
  • *Eyes are always twinkling.
  • *Everyone speaks English.
    • INTENSIFIER: *****!There is a stupid, contrived reason as to why non-English speaking characters are speaking English.
  • [This one is actually Pete's, but I whole-heartedly agree.] Non-native English speakers say everything in English, except for "yes" and "no" which they say in their native tongue. Da, darlink.
  • Oblique cultural references meant to let you know how smart the author is. (Dan Brown probably did this too, but I was so incensed by all the eye-twinkling and grinning with French accents that I didn't notice at the time.) For example, in a book that talks about Dracula, it isn't enough to point out that the movie version might not be an accurate historical representation of Vlad The Impaler, it has to be the Bela Lugosi version. Specifically.
  • Settings that come with a full, contextual set of obligatory actions (like restaurants: waiting, ordering, sitting, eating, drinking, waiting, paying, tipping, leaving) that are completely ignored. For example: characters arrive at a restaurant and are somehow seated without ever seeing a waiter, and their food arrives without ever ordering, all the while they're having an uninterrupted conversation, and then they pause to eat a single bite of food, a couple more lines of dialog, and suddenly they're helping each other put their coats on and leaving. If your characters converse throughout a meal, and you record all of the conversation for the reader, then it better actually be a meal's worth of talkin'. Please to note: J. K. Rowling does not make this mistake. When her characters leave a meal midway through, they're hungry later. If they fight, but finish their food, she lets you know that they finished their meal in awkward silence.
  • Over-the-top oddballness as a proxy for intelligence or a good up-bringing. Characters who proclaim that they never went out as teenagers because they grew up in the Orient with their diplomat/archaeologist/ninja parents, but they were never interested in that sort of thing anyway. Because the children of bankers and postal workers are always dull and uninteresting.
Okay, your turn!

5 comments:

Eric said...

You really wanted to blog all on your own? LIES!

Don't read modern authors. Ancient authors didn't have enough parchment to put in such nonsense.

SonicLlama said...

You know what's lame? Characters who can't walk. They're so fucking lame. What with their crutches and broken-ness. It doesn't get much more lame than that.

That and hyperbole. I hate hyperbole. In fact, I think that there's nothing in the world that I hate more than hyperbole.

Sydney said...

Hyperbole is bad. Especially when it's non-ironic hyperbole. You know what else is bad? Bad science. "I just love Chile in July. The sun! the heat! Oh, Summer is so lovely down south!"

Joseph said...

I kind of like "velleity", meaning "a slight wish or tendency", according to our dear friends Merriam and Webster. In other words, a desire that is too weak to actually act upon.

Joseph said...

And I just realized that I posted that last comment after the wrong post. Please to consider it as a comment in the following post, thankyouverymuch.