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08/24/2011

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Cieloan

The only one that really sticks out to me as bad manners is the last example. Just imagining someone eating like that makes me wince.
The other examples read, to me, as being less literal in their use of 'stuffing.' It seemed that they were just describing either the fact that they were eating quickly or a lot. But not that they were literally shoveling food into their mouths.
As for the jellybeans...yeah that actually happens (especially with things like popcorn...*cringe*).

I wouldn't hesitate to say table manners are on the decline, though. If you didn't grow up sitting down to dinner regularly, it's a lot harder to pick them up.

Michelle D

I don't work on children and young adult fiction, but I thought you might still like to hear my thoughts. All but the last one adds humor (to me--yes, I find these things funny). It's not really entertaining or fun to read about someone properly and slowly eating (and in that case you'd probably leave it out) but adding mentions about food makes it feel more realistic.

By the way, I love that you have Kindle references! Kindles are great.

Federico Escobar

I think what's going on is slightly different; it's less about manners and more about fiction workshops. Take any writing how-to book, and one of the first tips (one that you must follow or your manuscript will end up in the gutter) is to choose richer, more descriptive words, particularly verbs (and adverbs must be banished). For example, we can't walk in fiction; he have to galumph, or scuttle, or prance, and so on. Plain walking would say nothing to a reader. Or so the popular wisdom in those advice books go.

Hence, I think these writers cringed at the thought of producing such a bland verb as "eat," and they came up with those more descriptive, in-your-face, and less civil terms that you picked up on. In fact, the how-to advice worked, in a way, since you actually took note of those passages; passages in which people simply ate would probably have slipped by unnoticed. Now, whether that's sane advice for making high-quality fiction is another matter altogether.

Carol Saller

The thing is, only hack writers make a reader notice something that is beside the point. Unless the point of the passage is that the character is uncouth, the verb should just be "ate."

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Advice for Writers and Editors