Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The h-h-h-hesitant heroine

The late, great Barbara Cartland made famous the hesitant heroine. Usually very young, very sweet and very innocent, she was drawn to the older, wicked-but-delicious man (often a rake who’d decided to settle down). Her innocence was frequently portrayed by the use of many ellipses in her speech, and often also by a stutter or stammer. As a means of showing instead of telling, it worked just fine.

However, times change and authors today are urged to use other methods of showing than an endless series of stutters and ellipses.

Think of the movie, “The King’s Speech”. His stutter was world famous, yet in the movie often it was portrayed more by a close-up of his face as he drew on all his resources to speak without stammering, than by dialogue with lots of “T-t-t-today, I-I-I w-w-w-will…” etc.

The same with ellipses. Today’s heroine is much more likely to say “um” than to trail off altogether. “Oh yeah. I um, I’ll get right on it, sir,” is much more contemporary than, “Oh… Yes… I-I-I-I’ll get right on it… Sir.”

Also, remember only about one half of one percent of people worldwide stammer. And most of them are pre-school age children who either grow out of it, or learn to deal with it using therapy. In other words, it’s not a very common problem, unlike wearing glasses, or being partly deaf.

Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


anny cook said...

Oh, yeah. I remember B. Cartland romances!

Helen Woodall: Freelance Editing said...

Yeah, she was the top selling author in the world at one stage.