Unnecessary emotive language. Sort of like “Distressingly, I could now stick my finger into the side of my head” where we can tell just by reading it that this that the situation is distressing, disturbing, gruesome, unnatural and lots more besides.

This is a rather low ranking pet hate and I usually don’t notice it when I read it, and there are lots of reasons why a writer would want to emphasise one particular emotion. Like most of my pet hates it’s general and not something I’d ever hold against anyone, just something I try to avoid myself. When I write about my pet hates here I’m really just putting them into words so that I have to think them through first, analyse them for flaws and review them for deletion.

But it seems to me a redundancy. I don’t think redundancies are bad when they just sit in the background and hold the place together like support beams, because if you eliminated all redundancies in a sentence you’d end up with something like newspeak, but you don’t go around talking about pretty flowers or a bad wars when we all know that flowers are pretty (and delicate and scented) and wars are bad (and futile and destructive).

“A lot of pretty flowers grew in the field after the bad war.”

That’s all the war was. Bad.

It’s worse in journalism, especially reviews — I don’t mind hearing that the novelist has a habit of sticking slow-paced and irrelevant flashbacks in the middle of action scenes, but I don’t want to know that the journalist thinks this is ‘unfortunate’.

Oh, and this reminds me of something I read in The Picture of Dorian Gray:

“The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.”

Hmm.

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