Archive for February, 2011
The Burly Detective Syndrome appears to be a fear of proper names. This is where you can’t call Mick O’Donnal ‘Mick’, but substitute ‘the burly detective’ or ‘the read headed flat-foot.’ Like Saidisms, this comes from the wrong-headed conviction that you can’t use the same word twice in the same sentence, paragraph, or even page. This is only true of highly visible and strong words like ‘vertiginous’. For ordinary, simple noun and verbs, it is almost always better to re-use them rather than cumbersomely contrive a method of avoiding it.
Sadly, I fall for this one quite often. I find that I like describing Ethan as ‘the poet’ from time to time. I feel that this only becomes a problem when you either rely upon it, or use it excessively. Prose is almost always better when it is simple. Saying ‘the burly detective’ when ‘Mick’ will suffice, is not choosing the clearer, simpler path, it is trying for beautiful prose, which almost always fails.
Say what you have to say, say it clearly and succinctly, and you can’t fail.