I have a name and it's not "Honey." But there's a waitress in a local restaurant I went to this past weekend who thought so. In fact, everyone at the table had the same name. This wasn't a dive diner. The place was semi-tastefully decorated. Upon entering, a bar stretched along one side, its surface polished, candles placed at intervals reflecting the shine. The dining room was dimly lit; linen table clothes with starched napkins sitting in the center of plates like mini-pyramids.
The waitress handed out menus while rattling off specials, and then took our drink orders. "Honey, what do you want?" she said to my brother-in-law. I felt my gut twist and waited for him to make a remark once she split, but he didn't.
As the evening wore on, so did the waitress on my nerves. "What do you want on your salad, honey? Can I get you anything else, honey?"
"Yes, you can," I wanted to say. "Get me a sharp knife. I feel a homicide coming on." But still, I bit my tongue, so much that by the end of dinner my speech sounded like I'd had one too many wines, honey.
Don't call me "honey." I hate it even when my husband calls me that. I just do. He knows my name, but still, he'll call me "honey" and I've given up telling him that I hate it.
That aside, finally when the check came, my sister said, "If she called me 'honey' one more time, I was going to smack her one."
Thank you, sis! I thought it was just me. I no longer felt my usual anal self. And then my husband chimed in, agreeing that it was enough, already. (At that point my tongue bled.)
As with most things in life, less is more. In the case of the waitress, once was enough. I'm willing to give a pass if it's just a minor slip, but the entire night? The only things missing were a southern drawl, pink uniforms and a bald man doing the cooking.
Same goes for words overused in writing.
For instance, I just finished reading the third in the Jeff Lindsay's "Dexter" series. Brief review: not bad, but not great compared to his first two. On to my peeve. The author over-used certain phrases/words, ones that would have stood out if used once or twice. They were creative, yes, which made them stand out and all the more annoying through repetition. "He goggled me," he wrote, the verb "goggled" defined as "to stare with wide and bulging eyes."
So maybe the character doing the "goggling" had big, bulging eyes. I get that. But, seeing it over and over just made my eyes bulge. I don't want to pick on the author. After all, he's published and I'm not. But even multi-pubbed authors have habits they need to monitor, in my opinion.
Did "goggling" jerk me out of the story? Nope. It just annoyed me while I read the story. Sort of like shoppers who I think are talking to me, only to realize they have a hands-free cell phone piece stuck in their ear. Annoying? Yes. Does it keep me from shopping? Hell no. Only an earthquake does that.
Another on my pet peeve list when it comes to writing is dialog tags. Not the usual "he said, she said." I'm talking about writers who find fifty different ways of saying "said," and then using them over and over.
And then there are all those discussions over dialog tag use. Who hasn't read about, taken a class in, or gotten confused by, them? There's always conflicting opinions, too. Example: "Go to your room!" she spat. Nope, can't use spat according to some. Apparently, you can't "spit" words.
Who cares? I don't, but many do, so I say, why not just keep it simple? Use "said." And if you're using it too much, or feel the need to dig up newer and fancy "saids" then maybe you've got too much dialog. Just my opinion. Dialog falls into my "Less is more" category, too.
But again, I'm not published, so maybe I need to shut up already. I just know what I like, and I don't like an entire scene that's nothing but dialog. If I want dialog, I'll read a Shakespeare play. It takes a special person, I believe, to read a play of any kind. All those soliloquies make my eyes glaze over. As if Shakespeare's use of them isn't torture enough, how about having to memorize them? I had to memorize "The Quality of Mercy" speech from "Merchant of Venice", my English teacher Torquemada reincarnated.
Perhaps that's why long paragraphs of dialog make me push the book aside. I'm blaming my Freshman English teacher for my present day pet peeve. I despise long dialog. And I'm not referring to those broken up with some action. I'm talking about the ones that stretch for close to ten sentences. It creates the mental picture of the character turning blue while speaking. If that's the writer's intention, well, fine. It makes me stop reading, so there. It's my pet peeve.
I think it's lazy writing.
But then again, I'm not a published writer. Yet. And don't call me "honey" in your comments, or I'll come to your blog and tag you. Oh yes. You will feel my wrath as I bestow upon you another one of my pet peeves.
On a different note, Spring semester begins this week. Every Wednesday and Friday for the next four months I'll be getting closer to my degree. That said, and just because some want to re-live college, I'm going to devote this blog to my life as a 54 year old college student.
Stay tuned. Maybe we'll all learn something new.