Among the many reasons I decide to reject books and give individuals poor grading for the way their stories are constructed, the most common reason for rejection is the use of poor analogy and its constant overuse. As pointed out in Noah Lukeman’s work, “The First Five Pages,” no one knows exactly “how ugly is a cucumber.” If one is going to waste his or her entire time writing a book, then at least have some knowledge about the words he or she is going to use. Nothing gets me more annoyed (apart from poor usage) is when people use extreme words to describe something simple.
I have no troubles when someone decides to make analogies to illustrate the point, but when someone uses extreme words to describe a person, place, or thing, at least find something that can be relational to everyone, including the reader. Using phrases like “transparent as a hooker’s nightie” or “smells like midnight rot” will not make the reader engaged in the thoughts of the character that an author tries to convey if no one knows what you are talking about. How translucent does a hooker’s nightie get? What on earth is midnight rot and does it exist? (These two examples were pulled out from a book an author sent to me, which I, in turn, sent back to him with a lengthy note about why no one would seriously want to read it.)
Of the plethora of inconsistencies in an author’s sense of analogical usage, no other two words that drive me up the wall (when used improperly) are the words NAZI and SIN. Let me start with the first word, NAZI. Unless the character has some obsession of WWII, insulting others, or being downright stupid, there are NO REASONS to use that terminology whatsoever. I would argue that the word itself should be used sparingly and in its proper sense. This comes from having the experience of not wanting to offend people with these outrageous words. Apart from all this, the term itself is offensive to those who are German of either descent or citizenship (such as myself; I have dual citizenship with that country along with the US).
The other term is twice as bad, because most people take this term lightly, a little far too lightly for my tastes. If you are going to use the word ‘sin’ at least one ought to use it in its proper sense i.e., knowing the background. Sadly, most of the people who use the word sin have no idea what exactly the word entails. For those curious about the concept, let me begin by providing a concise definition:
“Sin is the either deliberate or in-deliberate violation of God’s standards, which result from not only from the choices of humanity, but also from the nature.”
If there are expressions I would allow they would these: sinful and ugly. Whenever the actions can be considered sinful, the word ought to be consistent with the above definition, not some type of frivolous word used in a sentence. To call sin ugly, there is no limitation to the phrase. In fact, I have no problem if you called someone or something ‘ugly as sin’ knowing full well what the phrase means. Sometimes one can make light of the phrase and use as a joke (no problem) or of seriousness (no problem also). However, if you are going to talk about sin and use the world in a ‘multi-dimensional’ sense, sorry I don’t have anything kind to say to you.
For this reason, I chose to reject Cheryl Kaye’s book and gave it an uncharitable review.