Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Silly Ways to Pull Me Out Of A Story - Example #1

The other day I came across the following advertisement for a book. 

 Earth Has Been Found 
by D F Jones 

From a world far beyond our own, the ultimate invasion is here. Earth has been found by a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent – sinister parasitic creatures that took to their human hosts with deadly speed and bloodthirsty precision. 

Note the words I italicized: “a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent.” Hmmm… If that's true, then how on earth did Mr. Jones invent them?  Is he from another planet, perhaps, one that has these creatures running around for him to see? 

Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Mr. Jones. This is only an advertisement and one expects a certain amount of hyperbole in sales copy, but it reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. 

How many times have you watched a television show (or read a book) where the main character is questioning a suspect about a crime they’re accused of committing, and after the suspect fervently/tearfully/dramatically protests his innocence, the main character turns to his partner and says, “This guy must be innocent. No one’s that good an actor.” Of course, that suspect is an actor, so not only does the statement strike me as ridiculous, it reminds me that I’m watching a television show instead of experiencing it as a spectator. 

Or how about when a character announces that he believes someone else’s crazy story because “no one could dream up a story like that.” Uh, you mean besides the person who wrote the show in the first place? Makes me wonder what a writer feels inside when he makes a character say “you have to be a genius to have come up with this idea.” 

Perhaps this doesn’t bother anyone else, and I’m happy for you if it doesn’t, but lines like this pull me right out of the story. It’s like the writer is kind of bumping up against the fourth wall without actually breaking it. 

Anyway, that’s my lame rant for today. 


PS, if these kind of lines didn’t bother you before, but they do now after reading this post, I'm sorry.


  1. They bother me now! But you do have a point. No matter what it is, someone can imagine it.

  2. They don't bother me. They are phrases used in real life so why not on a television show?

  3. That got my attention to. Better to used believable hyperbole.

  4. That beyond wildest imagination comment was used many times by Lovecraft in his stories. Writers do use it sometimes.

  5. I find these kinds of things funny if they are meant to be funny on purpose--like an intentional "Easter Egg" inserted by the writer(s) as a way of winking to the audience/readers. Otherwise, I get why you find them silly and it's probably better if they're left out.