atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1872: Happy New Year. (& I slam the writing in Haruhi.)

...I pooped out around 10:30 PM and ended up going to bed. The cat woke me up at 11:00 but I fell asleep again; and then fireworks woke me up about 12:10.

I got up, said, "Rabbit, rabbit," and hit the can before going back to bed. But I couldn't sleep; and finally I gave up around 3-ish, had leftover mostaccoli, and sat down to blog.

Such a stimulating life I lead.

* * *

I've started reading the Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, and I'm immediately struck by one thing:

The writing is terrible.

This thing spawned anime and manga and a huge craze in two countries, so I know it can't be the fault of the original material. Looking at the copyright and printer's plate inside I notice that the translation was done by one person, and there are no editing or other writing credits.

It's very poorly written.

I'm not taking exception to the translation; I'm taking exception to the presentation of the story. I'm not kidding: the text reads like something written by a sophomore in high school. It's not just an affectation, despite the fact that it's written from Kyon's point of view and Kyon is a sophomore in high school; it's actually bad.

Sketchy dialogue tags. Unclear description. Bad punctuation. Murky prose. Redundant adjectives. Iffy grammar.

It's rarely clear who is speaking; several times in the first chapter I had to go back and review the dialogue to figure out who was saying what--and in a couple of cases I couldn't. (Even the best writers do this sometimes, but I have never seen a Heinlein or a Clancy screw up multiple times in one chapter, let alone an entire novel.)

The guy who translated this thing really needed an editor at least and probably needed someone who knows how to write fiction to rewrite his translation. Look: you can be a great linguist and scholar and still be a complete hack when it comes to writing fiction. If you can write fiction, generally you can write non-fiction; but the other way around doesn't work nearly as well.

It took me literal years of work to polish my command of dialogue to the point that it reads clearly and flows well. This skill is utterly redundant when I'm trying to write an essay or research paper (or avionics manual). But if all my writing experience had been those kinds of writing it would not prepare me to write fiction--particularly fiction with a lot of dialogue in it.

When I'm reading a book and thinking, "Holy shit, I could write better than this when I was sixteen," it is not a good sign. I'm thinking about rewriting the translation so I can stand to read it. The story is interesting enough, but--here I paraphrase The Sure Thing--whatever whimsical qualities the book evokes are obscured in a morasse of marginal grammer, creative spelling, and--I believe--a sausage stain.

(Okay, the words are all spelled correctly and there are no pepperoni stains. It's the principle of the thing.)

* * *

I cleaned out Calandraxyzz's quest log; and then went to Gadgetzan in search of fresh XP. Now I've loaded up her quest log with the quests in Tanaris, so I've got some stuff to work on again.

Since I'm apparently not going to be getting any more sleep until the sun rises, I may as well go to Azeroth and kill stuff.

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