Apr 16, 2014

Banishing the Dogs

by H. Linn Murphy

What do these items have in common? The book "Pride and Prejudice", Veronica Mars, Tangled, the book "Rosencranz and Gildenstern are Dead", Psyche, Castle, Austenland, Ryan O'Shaughnessy's song "No Name", The Gilmore Girls, Inception, Jason Mraz' song "Won't give up on you", Pitch Perfect, Now You See Me, Jimmy Fallon's nighttime show, and Touch have in common?

In my opinion it's great writing. It's witty, engaging, entertaining, tells a compelling story, and gets to the truth, or the meat of that story. Everyone will have their own favorites which they like for various reasons. Our family quotes favorite movies, plays, songs, shows, and books almost constantly and are getting great at weaving these quotes skillfully into the conversation.

We also have our Dog-of-the-Year offerings. Almost every one of our "dogs" is on the list because of poor writing. They feature unbelievable situations, lame premises, cheesy, tired or trite lines, vacuous lyrics or wording, and plots which aren't.

Personally I don't understand these ventures which allow scripts or books to sneak through into the public eye badly done. We've all experienced those publishers who go through exhaustive measures to see that the books they put out are well written and grammatically sound. Why are movies, which cost their companies millions of dollars to make, so much more willing to accept a sub par screenplay?

I don't know about you, but when I see one of these dog-of-the-year movies or books, I re-write it in my head. I often do that with books. Sometimes the book has been fantastic right up until then end, when the writer seems to have come up against a deadline or run out of gas in some other way. I feel robbed in that circumstance. Then I go in mentally and re-tell the ending so it makes more sense.

It seems to me that often finesse and a well-written script go out the window in the interest of money and time. It also occurs to me that the rising generation of children are far less worried about perfection and doing a day's work for a day's pay and more inclined to do something fast and easy.

I'd like to suggest that we all lose with such attitudes. For us, the idea is to plunk our buns in the chair, crack our knuckles and get down to hard work. Don't put out less-than-perfect material. Polish until your face shines in your manuscript. Cut what needs to be cut.

When you are unable to find another thing wrong with it, when you can't re-tell the story in any better-distilled way, send it off in all of its resplendent, well-honed glory.


  1. You brought up one of my biggest frustrations - this increasing tendency to accept or give less than our best efforts. I have always believed that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well - or at least as well as I am capable. But many, many times, I have had individuals tell me to back off/or stop showing off because the world doesn't think that way anymore. On the positive side - I have seen a lot of employers praise those employees who do give their best. Several of my children have been told that they could have job recommendations any time because of their work ethics. Great post, Heidi! thanks.

  2. The only problem I see here is perception and taste. For example I adored Tangled, but I would not consider it epic literature, just fun. Inception was good but the ending irritated me. I haven't read the others. But what I consider epic literature might not be your cup of tea...say Dave Eddings or Terry Brooks. And I don't mind fast and easy at times. What does that make me? LOL


Thank you for visiting. Feel free to comment on our blogger's posts.*

*We do not allow commercial links, however. If that's not clear, we mean "don't spam us with a link to your totally unrelated-to-writing site." We delete those comments.