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Peeve: Too long to say

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Another one occurred to me this morning. Made-up example:

The evil King's guards had captured me. They held me, bound, before the King, who was quick to anger and was known to tolerate no insult whatsoever. One of them held the point of his knife to my throat.

I proudly held my head high and said to the King, slowly and calmly, "You're the spawn of maggots. You're evil through and through. Your mother wears combat boots. Everyone hates you. You'll burn in hell for that secret thing you do with your sister. You smell bad. Your fashion sense is execrable. When you mount your horse, you really mount your horse. Your grammar is bad. Your entire family, back to the dawn of time, has consisted of miserable worms. I hereby curse all your descendants, yea, unto the seventh generation. You're a lying sack of—"

"Enough!" interrupted the King. "Kill him!"

Somehow, no matter how imminent (or eminent; see next entry) the danger, the protagonist seems to be able to talk for as long as it takes to say everything that the writer wants to say, before getting cut off abruptly. Here's a more realistic version:

I proudly held my head high and said to the King, "You're the spawn of—"

"Enough!" interrupted the King. "Kill him!"

If you really want to give someone a long speech at a time like this, you could make it a thought instead of a speech; thoughts are mighty quick. Or you could make the King more tolerant of insults, or you could make clear that what you're writing is a heroic epic and thus subject to the genre conventions of heroic epics, and above petty concerns about plausibility. You could turn it into dialogue instead of monologue; it takes someone pretty polite to listen to a long speech from a hated enemy without interruption. You could even, as they say, kill your darlings, and dispense with the long speech full of pretty phrases.

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Thank you, thank you. I laughed and laughed.


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