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View Diary: Monday Night Murder Mysteries: Holmes, Hillerman and James (46 comments)

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  •  Thank you for the warning! (4+ / 0-)

    P&P is one of my favorite books, particularly because of that light touch you mention. The parts of the "sequel" you quoted seem leaden-- overstuffed with dull language and draggy detail. Austen is quick with insights and delightful with dialogue, and where she adds detail, it's amusing. I would never describe PD James in those terms, to say the least.

    Your review reminded me of Robert B. Parker's attempt to finish a novel Raymond Chandler had started. Imo the result (Poodle Springs) was a disaster. Parker was always terse in that never-use-adjectives, never-use-any-word-but-"said"-to-indicate-dialogue way. Chandler was full of vivid riffs and surprising metaphors. I can hardly think of two writers with more different styles.

    But as Robert Benchley said, "After an author has been dead for some time, it becomes increasingly difficult for his publishers to get a new book out of him each year."

    "Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed be doing at that moment." Robert Benchley

    by scilicet on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 05:02:42 PM PDT

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    •  Because of Parker's use of "said" (4+ / 0-)

      I can't listen to his audiobooks. I tried, but spoken aloud, the dialogue structure is irritating.

      •  I agree -- nothing but "said" is clunky in audio (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, RiveroftheWest

        I don't know how many articles I've read warning writers to use only "said," and to avoid adjectives, adverbs, long sentences, similes, and other unmanly flourishes. They cite masters of dialogue like Elmore Leonard, whose prose is wonderful and spare. But writing can be good in many different ways, and I like variety. So when I listen to Tana French books, or Neal Stephenson's, I bliss out on their generous use of metaphors, and I love J.K. Rowling's adjectives & adverbs.

        "Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed be doing at that moment." Robert Benchley

        by scilicet on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 01:31:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialog (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

                                                                         - Elmore Leonard

          The rule only works if you're Elmore Leonard (or Raymond Chandler, Mark Twain, or an equally pithy writer). Here's the whole rule, expanded, in a marvelous Guardian article, which asked for 10 rules from Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy, Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson:

          3 Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said" is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied". I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:20:28 PM PDT

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    •  Oh I don't know... (4+ / 0-)
      "After an author has been dead for some time, it becomes increasingly difficult for his publishers to get a new book out of him each year."
      Robert Ludlum and John Gardner kept "writing" books long after they died. Lord knows L. Ron Hubbard kept "writing" books for decades after his death.

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