Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top 20 Worst Sentences in the Short Story "It Never Is" by Frederick Waterman

For some reason, on one of my flights home, I decided to read the short fiction in the United Airlines magazine Hemispheres. I discovered a piece of fiction so hilariously awful that it deserved its own list. Click here to read the whole thing. I will merely present you with the most laughably bad sentences. This will probably only be funny to people who are English majors or read a lot and notice really stupid fiction-writing mistakes, and in an effort to minimize the elitism, I will keep my commentary to a minimum. Probably bad fiction is either funny to you or not, and I can't really change that.

20. "Charlie West walked down the aisle of Flight 137 looking like a salesman who'd been out on the road too long."

The story's first sentence offers but a taste of the treasures that lie ahead.

19. Dialogue: "So, did you have some conversations you never thought you'd have?"

Seriously, try out loud to get through this mouthful of a question.

18. Dialogue, in response to a single question: "No, I didn't--and yes, I did."

Shit's about to get deep.

17. Dialogue: "If he'd been a salesman, he would have gone hungry because customers only buy from people they like."

This author loves his salesman metaphors!

16. Dialogue: "Yes, and there are other card games, like Loco and La Viuda--which mean Crazy and The Widow--that are also popular, but I don't know them."

Gettin' a little bit of culture in there. Nice work.

15. Dialogue: "You must bet and bluff well, so that your opponent never knows if you have the best hand or not."

You must!!!

14. "Charlie paused, changing what he was going to say."

God, I love terrible writing.

13. Dialogue: "She looked like she was in her early 30s, and it was clear that she'd seen more dawns at the end of the day than at the beginning."

Next sentence: "But there was something else about her, something more, and I couldn't figure out what it was." I MUST know!!! Thankfully, a few pargraphs later...

12. Dialogue: "I figured out what had bothered me about the woman: In her profile and some expressions, you could see what she'd looked like when she was young, but in her eyes you saw what she'd look like when she was old."

Next sentence: "Youth and age aren't supposed to be together like that, side by side; there should be some middle years, some good adult years, and they weren't there."

11. Okay, two sentences, but dialogue: "He took everyone's money; then he gave it all to the dealer and walked away. He was just nuts!"

Even better if you know that the speaker has already said about this man, "He was rich, and he was nuts."

10. Dialogue: "She took a long sip of her drink, and at least a minute passed before she spoke again."

Okay, seriously, start a conversation with someone. Now stop and look down at your watch for a minute. Don't talk for a minute. Start it up again after that minute if the person hasn't like, run off and cooked an omelet while you were waiting or something.

9. "Charlie regarded the man next to him, whose hair was as white as his collar and whose eyes were unflinchingly direct."

Because preist's collars are white! Nice simile bro. B-)

8. Dialogue: "Yesterday's lecture was about developments in the field of bathroom plungers, so, at about 2 o'clock, I decided to see if my luck was back--and it was."

When you realize that this sentence is an attempt at humor, at first it becomes less sad, and then it becomes even sadder.

7. Dialogue: "I didn't know what was going on with them, but I had four kings, and I didn't care."

Hell yeah, dude. Got four kings, fuck the man.

6. Dialogue: "I'm 32 years old, and in another year, I'll look 40."

The only way this would make sense is if her next sentence was, "A wizard cast a seven-year aging spell on me that would take action exactly when I turned 33." Note: the next sentence is not that.

5. "When the announcements finished, the priest said, 'I'm Padre...Father Barranca.'"

Yep, in the middle of an English sentence, he accidentally said a single Spanish word, then corrected himself back to English.

4. "His next words were cut off by the preflight announcement that continued as the plane was pushed back from the terminal and pointed towards the runways."

Way funnier if you read this story, as this information has absolutely no bearing on anything.

3. Flight 137 turned into position at the head of the runway, accelerated, and, a few minutes later, banked away from the sun.

Yeah, again.

2. Dialogue: "Two men slipped through the crowd to Blue Suit, who felt their presence."

Like in Star Wars.

1. Okay, several sentences, but dialogue: "There's something that happens if you start cashing in people's trust--it starts to rot you out. It's time for me to quit and start over because you know what the worst thing is about cheating people? You don't ever trust anyone. I miss that. I miss that the most."



Peter said...

Best ending ever:

"Father Barranca nodded. 'It wasn't about the money.'

Charlie replied, 'It never is.'"


neonspecs said...

oh no! two #10s. disaster.

Rob said...

Thank you, sir or ma'am! I have averted disaster and edited out the double-10.

Jonathan S Kelly said...

By "I'll look 40" the author must be trying to convey sadness, tiredness and depression.
I suggest you write a short story and post it online you literary snob!