The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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9:03am on Friday, 16th September, 2005:
I finished book 1 of the Banned and the Banished yesterday, but the other 4 books can go on eBay for all I care. The poor writing quality was just too relentless. I've no idea how this 5-part series of 500-page books ever got published — really, it's as if a noun breaks through into the author's mind and for the remainder of the paragraph he has to re-use it.
I've just opened book 1 at random on page 411. Scanning down, I see:
The images were mixed with sorrow and pain, as if something Fardale had fiercely desired had slipped from his grasp. Heartache and wonder were etched on the images from his brother in blood.
These are the final two sentences of a six-sentence paragraph, the first sentence of which also refers to "images". Why? why use the word images when scenes or pictures or (in this example) projections would have said more? Why use images?
Repetition is an authorial tool, for linking concepts together. If you describe a horse as "proud and muscled" then you refer to a man as "proud and muscled", you're drawing parallels between them. The horse belongs to (or, in a Fantasy world, maybe is) the man. The man is like an animal. The two are as one. That's what repetition is for: building narrative links.
(See how in that paragraph I repeated repetition in the final sentence to indicate the end of my definition of the term? See how in this paragraph, I used the word again to emphasise what was doing? See how I'm using "see how" to give these three observations mututal support?)
Not using repetition is also good for writing. If I can't describe something using the same word, I have to think of another word that will do. This has the bonus of making me detail what I'm describing with more fidelity, rounding it out. If I keep referring to a monster as a beast, all you know is that it's a beast; if I refer to it as a beast, horror, monster, vile creation or whatever, you get to know more about what kind of beast it is or what kind of effect it has on those who observe it. In Wit'ch Fire, you only ever get it called a beast.
I just couldn't take any more of this.
(And don't even get me started on the gratuitous apostrophes: wit'ch, og're, d'warf, el'vin, moon'falcon, rock'goblin...).
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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).