Over It


Is it just me or do other folks want to pull their hair out when an author repeats the same phrase over and over and over?

I read a Star Wars book many moons ago in which the author wrote out the full title “Chief of State Leia Organa Solo” over and over, again and again and again. Like, would any of us not know the “Chief of State Leia Organa Solo” by her shortest name possible? If the author was trying to make some point, it became lost in the pure monotony of seeing the full name so many times. I began to wonder if the author was simply trying a meet a minimum word count because so many instances of “Chief of Stare Princess Leia Organa Solo” surely added a good 10 to 20% to the total word count.

And it’s not just authors of Star Wars novels. JK Rowling was guilty of writing too many toad-like grins for Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I got it. Toad-like grin. Her grin was toad like. Like a toad. Really. And it wasn’t as if OotP was her debut novel, so I would have thought she’d know better. I generally really like the Harry Potter books. So I have to say, in Rowling’s case, I did kind if wonder if it was a purposeful literary technique to make Umbridge seem that much more annoying. It really began to feel like finger nails on a chalkboard every time her toad-like grin appeared. (And, OMG, our pink fluffy walls remind me of her pink fluffy jacket. Please. Make it stop.)

Now, I’m reading the Divergent series. Every time a character is nervous or pensive she or he pulls at the fabric of his or her hem and sometimes purses or chews his or her lips. But that’s pretty much all the do when they’re not kissing, eating, or fighting. Pulls at hem. Purses lips. Hem. Hem. Hem. Lips. Hem. Hem. Lips. And once a character shifted weight from one leg to the other. I keep wondering if it’s a statement on the fabric of society – what with “the fringe” and all. The characters are hemmed in by a belief structure. But really, I feel like I will explode if I read the word “hem” one more frick’n time. It isn’t a book on sewing. Surely the author or editors could have written some other words there, right? Couldn’t they tug at some loose threads? Puff out their cheeks? Pull their hair out? Get a stitch in their side? Use a tissue to wipe off a screen? Roll up sleeves? Stretch their arms? Shirts? Something?

Oh gosh, I just remembered Professor Umbridge says, “hem, hem, hem,” as she clears her throat when she wants to speak. Why? Why do they torture me so? Maybe, it’s just me.

This is part of why I like John Green as an author. I can’t think of any toad-like-grinning, Princess Leia Organa Solo, hem-pulling, lip-pursing repetitions in his books. The main problem with them is the laughter and sobbing I experience while reading in public. I can live with that. Mostly. (And, yes, lots of laughter and especially sobbing from tFiOS.)

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