Monday, May 21, 2012

Writers, authors and editors -- one sack and a baseball bat

See that baseball bat? Yes? Good, because I want you to remember it. Why, you wonder? Well, let me explain...
You know when everyone tells you to leave your problems at the door when you come to the office? Yes? Right, be assured that it doesn't apply for your writing and editing, dear writers, authors and editors! For writing or editing you will need your brain. Surprised? Yes, so am I when I read things like: Running down the stairs, she pulled on her jeans.
Excuse me, but would you have the grace to explain to me how one would be able to fulfil such an impossible task, or tasks for that matter? Just asking. I've tried and tried to picture it, to no avail. How do you do that? I reckon it would result in at least some severe bruises, broken limbs or if it goes terribly wrong in a snapped neck, which, as we all know, would be a not so positive outcome. Expected, yes, wanted, no. Let alone that you normally pull on jeans as you are probably rushing to answer the door, unless you want to open in your knickers, but then there's no need to mention the jeans anyway.
Just recently I had to read a sentence like this: Walking into the kitchen, she opened the fridge.
Really? So the fridge was basically placed smack bang in the door, which, unless she's a skinny bitch and not a fat cow like me, might make it a tad difficult to access the kitchen, which then would mean she didn't even get to walk into the kitchen to open the fridge, right? And what would happen if the kitchen was several feet long and the fridge was placed at the end? Does she have extremely long arms or something long in her hand to open the fridge? Then she must be quick because walking into the kitchen takes one step only. Unless, she has a fridge connected with a mechanism that opens it the second she steps over the threshold. Can you see my problem here? No?
Okay here's another fun example: Tying her shoe laces, she ran a mile.
Gee that woman must have an extreme balance being able to tie her laces while running a mile. You could say, yes, but she hopped on one leg, but that wouldn't be running now, would it?
Or how about this little beauty? Opening the bin, she threw away the rubbish.
Wow, how smart of her. I think I never saw someone in their house throwing the rubbish onto the closed bin, unless they had more drinks than they could manage, but that's not the point.
Understand my problem now? I could merrily go on pulling examples out of my non existent hat.
Want proof? Here we go: Opening the door, she took a seat behind the wheel.
Now how would that work out? Try it out for yourself and send me a picture if you manage to do both at the same time.
And another one: Taking a sip of his coffee he mumbled, 'What a bloody idiot.'
Yeah, one could only hope he referred to himself, because taking a sip and mumbling would end up messy, with coffee generously sprayed around the kitchen. If he was in the kitchen, that is. Sipping would imply you're sucking in the fluid, how would you be able to mumble at the same time? Eh? Correct! Not possible.
Writers and authors seem to love this sort of writing and editors seem to have left their brains with their problems at the door; there's no other explanation for this sort of insult to a reader. This reader in particular.
Unless it's two things you can do together, like walking and singing, cleaning and listening to music, drinking and watching, please stop torturing me and possibly others. Every time you see such sentences in your writing, or you, editors, in authors' writing, I want you to feel hit over the head with that baseball bat, which hopefully will prompt you to rephrase as shown below.
She walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
She pulled on her jeans and ran down the stairs. 

Phew, that felt good. I'm glad we got that sorted!

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