Writing Reader Observation #12

Say What? Second Verse Different from the First

I wrote another reading writer observation entitled “Say What?” in which the secondary characters in the novel I was reading all called the heroine “strong” despite the fact that her actions and dialogue showed, to this reader, a whining, weak character. This is another post on confounding your reader.

Last night I was reading a novel by a writer who will go nameless and who will probably not definitely won’t be reviewed on this blog, at least not for this novel.

This was the sentence:

“His lean shoulders curved into a question mark, a tennis player’s stripped physicality from destroying Dexter with his backhand on Trip’s court . . .”

This, my dears, is the very first page of the novel. Forget the fact that I don’t know (probably don’t care) who Dexter and Trip are. I am stuck on shoulders that curve into a question mark. Imagine me maneuvering my body so that I can see just how this comes about.

I can’t.

I figure that after a few more pages, I’ll Google to see if this is some weird new fitness description a la six-pack (not new, but you get my drift). As far as I can tell, it’s not.

I ask other people. Nope. No clue.

By thinking she’s being creative, the writer has undermined herself. She has created a description that does not only fail to describe but reaches a point of inanity.

As a writer, we want to keep our readers in the dream of the story. By concocting a description that only makes sense to you or one that you will have to spend multitudes of words to justify removes the reader from that dream.

Sinewy shoulders works a lot better than question mark ones…I’m pretty sure.

This novel is loquacious in not a good way. And, it will be this year’s first DNF.


5 replies »

  1. It drives me nuts when I’m reading something that is described in such a weird way that it takes me twenty minutes to figure out what the writer was trying to say and I’ve lost the thread of the story by that point.

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