Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,
Thistle
thistle_chaser

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Harry Potter and the Murder of the English Language

"It was a room, a very disordered, dusty room. Paper was peeling from the walls; there were stains all over the floor; every piece of furniture was broken as though somebody had smashed it. The windows were all boarded up."

"Hermione was screaming; Ron was yelling; there was a blinding flash as the wands in Black's hand sent a jet of sparks into the air that missed Harry's face by inches; Harry felt the shrunken arm under his fingers twisting madly, but he clung on, his other hand punching every part of Black it could find."

"Crookshanks had joined the fray; both sets of front claws had sunk themselves deep into Harry's arm; Harry threw him off, but Crookshanks now darted toward Harry's wand--"

All those quotes were taken from three consecutive pages. Semicolons are good, fine, and wonderful things to use, but should not be used many times in the same paragraph! Arg! They weren't even always used correctly!

If you were reading a fanfic with punctuation like this, would you finish the story or drop it?

"Harry-- we've got to go for help--" Hermione gasped; she was bleeding too; the Willow had cut her across the shoulder.

Wondering if this was just a chapter that the editor missed or if JKR writes like this all the time, I picked up PoA and opened it to a random page and checked the first paragraph my eyes fell on:

Harry put on a huge burst of speed; the wind was roaring in his ears; he
stretched out his hand, but suddenly, the Firebolt was slowing down--


How in the heck hadn't I noticed the abuse of semicolons before? (And we won't even mention the dashes.) I can't even continue reading the books now, I want to get out a red pen and correct every error I find. (Yes, that would leave the text itself totally lost in the red ink.)

How in the world did the editors not catch and correct all this? Or I wonder if it's like... what's her name, the woman who writes the Interview with a Vampire series. Anne Rice. After her third(?) book, she demanded that there be no editor for her books. Worse than that, she writes one single draft and has that published. She doesn't edit it herself and won't let anyone else do it. (She claims there's something in her head that can edit the whole book before she puts it down on paper.) I wonder if JKR's semicolon abuse is her "style" and she doesn't want people to change it?

Bah. Once again, I am proud (and sad) that so much fanfic does it better than the original books.

ETA: I wonder if maybe it really was an editor's slip? The last chapter of PoA was almost free of semicolons, and when I randomly picked other spots, there were big sections without overuse of them. Strange!
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