Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Banned List #6

An occasional list of far too frequent crimes against writing

As I crept into the house, I didn't see the moonlight pouring in like a silver stream through the recently washed and polished windows. Nor did I observe that the faded burgundy velvet curtains, much in need of dry-cleaning, had not been drawn.

'That's odd,' I would have thought (if I'd clocked it in the first place). 'Shelagh never leaves the curtains open like that.'

A crystal goblet, sparkling in the light of the dying fire, its facets diamond bright, stood ungazed upon; the lingering, oily, pungent scent of gin ignored as a solitary ice-cube melted within its glass prison.

I didn't hear the menacing whine of the rusty door hinges as the bedroom door opened, nor the creaking heavily ponderous footsteps on the staircase. I failed to acknowledge the sinister click of the white plastic light switch.

So the sudden explosion of electric light came as a total surprise. (Once I'd noticed it).

Shelagh, her brows knitted, her mouth tight, her eyes like cross little currants, glowered with the force of a dark thundercloud. I found her expression hard to read.

'What time do you call this, eh?'

I was oblivious to the sharp tone of her voice; the clipped consonants, the elongated vowels which howled like an icy wind across a Russian steppe.

'It's time I stopped describing in intricate and exact detail all of the things which my 1st and 3rd person point of view characters allegedly - and I use that word advisedly - allegedly never blimmin' see, hear, touch, taste or smell,' I said crossly.

The End


  1. Do not pass GO. Do not collect £200. GO directly to Elmore Leonard

  2. This - with it's (I imagine) beautifully constructed examples and (almost certainly) clever underlining point about best practice in creative writing, would have been exactly the sort of post I'd enjoy, had I read a word of it! 8-D

  3. Very funny - and clever, Moptop. Dropping half the adverbs/adjectives is an embarrassingly frequent bit of advice I get from a writing coach. It's hard to believe you do it until you read yourself from someone else's point of view.

  4. @ Martin - Elmore would have deleted the WHOLE of Chapter One of The Return of the Native. Who cares about the weather, Thomas?!

    @ BB - Moptop did not notice how beautifully punctuated Bébé's comment was, nor did she espy the clever use of brackets, the precisely oblique angle of the italics nor the emoticon which brought the whole feast of articulate delight to a close.

    @ Deborah - Merci, Madame. It is the time of year when one notices this very inclination in 100+ pieces of work.