Oct. 21, 2013: A nonny started a thread called "Fanfic Pet Peeves Edition #89727808E9 (Aka Midish-October Edition)," in which they mentioned having to search for and replace more than 300 epithets in an otherwise "excellent mpreg woobie!Derek long fic."
Meme consensus seemed to be with OP on epithets. Example:
- "The younger man" "The younger man" "The younger man" "The younger man" "The younger man"
- SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP
- Authors who do this need to be beaten.
And then came the dissent:
- I'd rather have epithets than proper names every sentence.
- No, I don't care if you read right over them. They're distracting for me. Don't even try to say that your reading is universal.
Another nonny argued, "There's a perfectly good invention called the pronoun that people can use and maybe everybody can be happy." Another discussed the use of sentence structure to avoid excessive epithet use.
Pro-Epithet Nonny insisted that readers don't notice well-done epithets, and gave the following example:
- "Ross's gray eyes dilated wide, and Jim looked into the madman's left pupil as he pulled the trigger."
Nonnies scoffed at this, pointing out the ambiguity of whether "madman" referred to Ross or to a third person; the redundancy of the phrase "dilated wide"; the gratuitous mention of eye color (wank specifically over grey as an eye color starts here); and the obsolescence, triteness, and purpleness of the term "madman."
Pro-Epithet Nonny did not take any of these criticisms well:
- "If you're seriously confused about that then I think the problem is with your reading ability, not the author."
- "This... dear god, please don't go judging fics, nonny. Please don't. You are awful at it. 'Ross's gray eyes dilated wide' is basic description. There's no redundancy. Dilation isn't an on-off switch. You can dilate only a little or a great deal. In this case it was a great deal."
- "You know what? Seriously? I'm just going to laugh my ass off at your (and the other nonnies in this thead) horror of epiphets. I don't believe you guys know good writing from bad, and I'll just use my own judgement (I chose this example from one of my all time favorite fics and favorite writers: Martha)."
- God, the attempts at 'criticism' in this thread are getting more and more ridiculous by the minute... 'show, don't tell' is another one of those 'rules of writing' that people parrot in place of having actual critical judgement even though there are plenty of instances where it's not true."