Thursday, 11 October 2012

When Words Get In The Way (or how not to be Mr Hutchinson)

One thing writers have in common is a love of words. After all, they are our stock in trade. So it would be strange if they didn't hold a certain charm, even fascination. There is something about the sound of the right word, the feel of it in the mouth, the sight of it on the page, that is immensely satisfying. But as with all pleasures it can become an obsession.

Do you enjoy word games like Scrabble? Do you cancel appointments so as not to miss your daily dose of Countdown? Do you sit up late trying to finish the Times crossword? If so, you could be a lexaholic.

Stephen Fry is a famous one and it shows. Robert Robinson was another - remember all that camp delivery on Call My Bluff? The pure joy of words is the greatest spur to a wordsmith, but it can also be their downfall.

Because it's so easy to let your passion get the better of you. Remember, story telling is about communication - it's a two way street, like a conversation. Just as you would bore a listener rigid by spouting great long pompous sentences of obscure and unnecessary words, you lose the reader in much the same way. If you have a propensity to wax lyrical all the more need for critical editing, either from yourself or a sympathetic beta reader.

Otherwise you run the risk of sounding like a pompous bore, as this clip from Fawlty Towers shows:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Santa Claus touched me up, claims elf.

The world of fictional characters was shaken to its foundations today in the wake of a new ITV documentary, "Kringle the Kiddy Fiddler" in which several underage elves claim the much beloved seasonal benefactor sexually assaulted them.

"I was working late in his workshop at the North Pole," claimed one sobbing elf who wished to remain anonymous. "When I heard the familiar Ho-ho-ho and the next thing he'd yanked off my tights. It was dreadful. I haven't been able to work since, I was so traumatised."  

A spokesman for Christmas said these allegations were completely scurrilous and unfounded. "Santa Claus is the seasonal Father to children everywhere, and there is nothing whatsoever unnatural about an old man in a red suit creeping into children's bedrooms in the dead of night to give them the contents of his sacks. For anyone to say otherwise is pure malice."

But other alleged victims have since come forward to add their sordid stories to the debacle. "He asked me if I wanted to pet his reindeer," said one. "Then we drove around in his Rolls Royce Sleigh drinking eggnog. I started to feel dizzy then the next thing I knew he had his hand up my dress."

Santa Claus, or Kris Kringle as he is known informally, has long been celebrated for his generous gift giving to children and works tirelessly every Christmas Eve to bring presents to every child, near or far. He has been recognised by having his picture on Christmas Cards and in songs like "Santa Claus is Coming To Town".  He has always maintained a wall of strict privacy regarding his private life and consistently refuses media interviews.

"It's just not right," claimed a former reindeer who claimed he was sacked for speaking out about Kringle's activities in 1987. "Something should be done. He's a menace. They should get someone safer who's good with kids. Like that Jimmy Savile bloke."

Santa Claus declined to comment.