The Nighttime Novelist...accomplishes more in about 240 pages than a dozen other "how to write" or "craft your novel" books have ever done.

--Helen Gallagher/Blogcritics




Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Tip #15: Against Faux Poe

Have I spoken to you of the utter despondency--the unimaginable horror that besmirches my soul!--when confronted with that most dastardly of the narrative voices, the ancient accursed language which befouls a number of pages which is the unspeakable horror of Faux Poe!!

Surely you are not unaccustomed with the treacherous bile, that mock-formal mental monologue in the complete sentence and rhetorical question of which I speak?!? The bristling false emotion which begs me strike those wretches who employ the voice dead!--strike them dead but that it would ruin my very pair of Wrangler boot-cut jeans, slick with their blood!!

And how I would ask these pensmen and penswomen who are drawn to the voice, as a dog is drawn to feces--to its own feces, and the feces of others!!--I would ask directly, "Why does your character, who is a housewife unhappy in her marriage and thinking of taking up yoga, narrate like she's an evil mastermind? Why does she ask herself rhetorical questions constantly, rather than doing anything? Why does she describe things as if she owns a thesaurus from 1879?" Only to receive no reply from yon writer to my query?!?

But I persist: "Does your character, I beg you answer me, speak this way in her daily life? When she frequents the local drive-thru, does she say, 'I demand of you earnestly, drive-thru worker, that delicacy of all beef patty and sesame-seed bun which is called the Big Mac!' In what year does this story take place, writer? Is the story not set in the twenty-first century? Does it not take place in Hoboken?

"And here on this page...does the narrator not further make problem by invoking the mock-formality of the ancient Jedi known as Yoda? Offends this reader, this construction does!" Yet continue to see such construction in fiction, I do. How to draw attention to such problem, then, and how to make writers realize the inefficiency of the approach?

Do you not consider, author--hey, author?--that such bombast and demode verbiage remind the reader she is reading, when the mystical effect of well-spun narrative is that the reader necessarily forgets? Do you not see that narrative so grandiloquent and fustian requires the co-reading of a thesaurus? Do you distrust my advice?!

Then I shall devise a brilliant course of revenge on the subject--revenge? surely I meant education! charity!--to cast aspersion on Faux Poe, shame it, kill it into a dead corpse and to do so right...Here!!

Here, in this very post of blog!!

PS--I do see the attraction. That was fun. But yeah, don't do it.

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