Oh dear, oh dear, I feel quite distraught. Someone just ejaculated in front of me. Really. Right there on the printed page.
It’s not as though it hasn’t happened before, but I still find it poor practice. Yes, I realize that authors of some classic works of the past did it. Victor Hugo for one. And Charles Dickens was an inveterate user, with his characters given to ejaculating on right, left, and centre of his pages. Messrs Smallweed, Mantalini, Brass, Pickwick, and Richard Swiveller did it, as did other ‘gentlemen’ including Sir Leister Deadlock and Lord Frederick Verisopht. Even the kind-hearted Miss Betsey Trotwood was wont to let forth an ejaculation from time to time.
So really, perhaps I shouldn’t be so squeamish, but when a book’s characters squeal, shriek, remonstrate, intone, or spit, I can’t help wishing they’d take hold of themselves and simply ‘say’ something.
I’m a little mollified to find I’m not the only one to object to all these variables which are, to my mind, on a par with the adverb.
I’ve never read any of Elmore Leonard’s books – westerns, and crime fiction not being my usual reading fare – but he must have had something going for him, and I am more inclined to do so since I read that the third of his 10 Tricks for Good Writing was “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue.”
It’s a shame he died a few years ago. I feel I’d like to write and ask him what he thought about the habit of Mr Pickwick et al.