Categories
Uncategorized

A Conundrum

The other day I was elbows deep in the latest instalment of my new Mitchell Mysteries and found myself written into a corner.

I was reviewing some chapters and came across the following paragraph:

He turned his attention to the fairway in front of him, a par four, slight dogleg left. It was a beautiful hole, but fraught with danger. Besides the water hazard, there were four large sand traps around the green, which had more curves than a Hollywood starlet from the fifties.

Was this sexist? Or mysogynist? Or any of the other “ists” in the linguistic minefield that writers have to traverse these days?

I couldn’t decide. It was accurate. But would readers think it was some sort of retroactive body-shaming? Did it evoke the abuses that movie studios and executives inflicted upon actresses of the era? (Check out what Alfred Hitchcock reportedly did to Tippi Hedren.)

When a sentence inspires this much hesitation, I usually try to come up with something else. Maybe it’s my nod to the saying originated by Arthur Quiller-Couch but attributed to everyone from Oscar Wilde to William Faulkner to Stephen King:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

So I did. And I think the revision is better:

He turned his attention to the fairway in front of him, a par four, slight dogleg left. It was a beautiful hole, but fraught with danger. Besides the water hazard, there were four large sand traps around the green, which had more curves than a python trying to digest a capybara.

On the other hand, maybe this revision is a sign I’m watching too much Richard Attenborough on BBC Earth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s