Saturday, December 17, 2005

Colonic Irritation

Yes, I know.
Very vulgar.
However, one thing that burns my round, red, rosy rostrum is a reference to fiction in fiction.
Yanno ( TM Miss Snark) this sort of thing..."Lieutenant, unfortunately this is not a detective novel where things work out neatly and all the loose ends are tied up in a package at the end of the book..."
Now, I'm quite sure that the occasional detective or police sergeant might philosophize along these lines in real life, but why remind me that this is a novel?...
Or the character who ruminates, "Truth is stranger than fiction, Ethel..."
Or, "That's the way it was...it's not some bloody novel..."
Some writers cannot resist making these obverse comments.
Either from a certain lack of confidence or from a secret conceit.
The Del Shannon procedurals - which I love - are littered with these arch, teasing pokes at the reader. Especially in the earlier works of the series. They are not the only ones.
It's ubitquitous.
Somehow they think these references will re-inforce the pseudo reality.
They don't.
Laying it on too thick.
The one nail too many.
Yeah, people talk that way in real life. But so what? Why jiggle that fragile foundation of suspended disbelief? You can only turn the coat inside out so far.
Stop it.
Resist.

14 comments:

Tsavo Leone said...

People talk that? "This ain't some damned Steven Spielberg movie ya' know..."

I don't think it's something I'm consciously aware of when I'm reading (perhaps it's genre specific?), though I'm gonna be checking my WiP just to make sure I'm not guilty.

As a aside (and in a similar vein), Last Action Hero was also heavily criticised by certain parts of the media for over-doing the 'but it's only a movie' sections, which detracted from the 'now we're in the real world' section of the film.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Tsava, I really liked the movie. It was funny and action al at the same time.

I don't pay any attention to those kinds of remarks unless they're way out of line with what's going on.

M. G. Tarquini said...

one thing that burns my round, red, rosy rostrum

Can I steal that phrase?

Oh dear, I use phrases about legends twice in one of my novels. Not so obviously, and I don't pull the Sam Soliloquey at the end of The Two Towers, the movie, bit either.

Course, one of the MC's is a writer of sorts.

I've made a decision - I'm pulling out the more obvious phrase.

Bernita said...

Legends?
What sort of "legends"?
Depends on how it's used, I suppose.
Maybe I got irritated because I'm binge reading the series. So it becomes repetitious and obvious. One book at a time, perhaps not.

No, you may not.
I've already used it.
And hopetogod, it is a genuine family creation and the family member hadn't pinched it from some book.
Perhaps I'd better google it.
Wonder if this is how certain phrases and descriptive terms become cliche?

MissWrite said...

Yanno, I agree with ya.

Still thinking of finding somewhere to insert it in my next piece... just to give you a kick. :)

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Bernita, this post of yours is so apropos to the screwball romantic comedy book I’m currently writing. The hero writes hardboiled crime fiction on the side. On occasion, I have him thinking in terms of how his fictional hero would handle matters. And I also have him making occasional references in his daily speech, including when he speaks to the heroine, to crime fiction versus reality. I’m having a lot of fun with this because it can get confusing for me as I write. I just have to be darned sure not to confuse my readers! LOL

I like the points you’ve made and think they’re valid (and, of course, your “round, red, rosy rostrum” remark is priceless). If fiction references are made, they have to be done in such a way that it doesn’t pull a reader right out of the story. I’ve read books where such mentions have been made and they’re simply awful, and then I’ve read others where the writer has handled it deftly.

Bernita said...

Daisy, obviously your usage is germain to the plot and character, and not the sort of intrusive throw-away I describe.
Also, with your verve, you could probably carry it off even if it wasn't and have everyone laughing themselves silly at the same time.

Miss Write is naughty.

Candice Gilmer said...

I know for a fact I've done this twice in my current novel that I'm shopping. Once referencing novels, once referenceing movies.

Course, they came out pretty funny, I thought.

However, it's nothing that can't be edited out if necessary.

Bernita said...

Nothing wrong with a social reference, Candace, especially if it's funny.

Savannah Jordan said...

I never use those types of allusions. NEVER I do slip in the occasional pop culture phrase, or movie quote, for sh*ts and giggles, but that's it.

archer said...

Referring to fiction in fiction is aggravating if it's clumsy, as in your examples. But there are some great writers who refer to fiction in fiction. Tim O'Brien does it in The Things They Carried, and it's brilliant, and he drops some nice tips about storytelling besides. Dickens does it a lot, and it works--there is a long passage in Oliver Twist in which he gives a little lecture on what he's trying to do. Philip Roth does a lot of it in the Zuckerman books, and Stephen King does a nice take on writer-in-trouble in Bag of Bones, which is full of writing tips and sour observations on the world of publishing.

Anonymous said...

What's even worse is when the author has the characters reading the books she publishes under another name. "Velma curled up by the fire to read the latest Hildegard McBarfalot novel. She just LOOOOVED the sexy heroes in those stories.

Bernita said...

I agree, Anon.
Just a little tacky.
Probably meant as an in-joke though.

Anonymous said...

In the books in question, I don't think it was a joke to mention the author's other novels. It read like pure promo to me.