Monday, November 05, 2007

Here's what I wonder

I read fan fiction. Not a lot of it, but some. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it.

(OK, I am embarrassed. But I am admitting it even though people I know in real life read this blog.)

Anyway, some of it is very well written, some of it…well…is not. But there is one universal fault in just about every fanfic I read, and it drives me crazy. Why must writers go way, way overboard with description? I've always found that description works better when it is subtle but beautiful, or unexpected, or even jarring. It really isn't necessary to describe every single blessed ingredient in a sandwich with four adjectives apiece. It's a sandwich. I've has some good ones in my day, but never one that one that was "laden with generous amounts of tender, sweet, salty, shell pink ham; juicy, fresh, sweet, crimson tomatoes; crisp, crunchy, wavy, sage green lettuce; and creamy, smooth, moist, white mayonaisse."

OK. That was admittedly a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Not every noun requires an adjective, and not every simple item, like a ham sandwich, requires extensive description. In fact, the lack of description can sometimes set a scene or a mood better than laying it on thick.

I wonder when kids are picking up that this is a good thing. I think it is 4th or 5th grade, personally. I remember my language arts teachers in those grades enthusing over how much description you could cram into one paragraph. But I don't really remember any teacher saying otherwise until I got to college.

So thank you, English Department at Gannon University, for saving me from the perilous, hazardous, tremulous path of overly effusive description.

1 comment:

tomzgrrl said...

And thank you Dr. Walter S. Minot for attempting to single-handedly rid the world of nominalizations and the overuse of exclamation points.