Monday, November 15, 2010

Dan Brown's Favorite Word

Not a Spoiler

I've just finished Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. It was a hefty paperback, somewhere over 500 pages, and I suspect the editor got tired of editing after the first couple of hundred, went out for coffee, and didn't return. This isn't going to be a book review - I don't do those but do admire those who can write good ones. I don't even read all that many reviews. Mostly I make up my mind by browsing, checking out the front and back covers and reading the first few lines.

I enjoyed The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons not so much. Didn't care for the blood and gore but decided to give this latest in the series a try. It was a good read but nothing spectacular.

It was a thriller with an interesting shortened time frame - everything taking place within 24 hours and mostly over the course of one night. What took away from the read was a word that first insinuated itself in describing one of the characters.


"The elegant African-American..." Odd choice for a descriptor, I noted, but read on. Then this was elegant and that was elegant. Everything was elegant. Elegant. Elegant. Elegant. After a bit, I wondered if Brown wasn't playing a game with the editors to see if they'd catch it. They didn't. It became irritating and a detractor and a distraction. Elegant. Ick.

I wish the editor had reported back to work after the coffee break. Just goes to prove we all need editors. You can't edit your own work.

Monti Visits This Week

I'll be posting, or rather Monti will, later on this week. Please stop back on the 19th to share in her virtual book tour.


  1. That's one of my pet peeves about books. I can overlook a lot of writing flaws, but using one word repeatedly distracts my brain too much. I forget about the plot and just start playing "eye spy" with the word.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one!

  2. You're eloquently correct KK, we all need editors. I think his editor got a headache and then a tooth infection from mashing all his teeth since Brown didn't listen.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  3. It IS very true that we can't edit our own work. I've discovered this as I'm finishing the fifth draft of my memoir. Without a good editor at the other end, it would have been embarrassing if I had self-published!!

    I tried to get into Brown, but didn't get very far. I started doing a few Blogger reviews, but it all gets so time consuming. Maybe I won't set my standards so high but rather do what you've done so well here: pithy and right on. Very good.

  4. Huh? He sells multi-million books and his editor is so slack? My editor is definitely much better.

    My Darcy Mutates

  5. Hi KK,

    You know, that happens to me as a writer. I fall in love with one word and keep using and using it and don't realize I've done it. Wonder why that happens? Sort of an interesting phenomena. You would think an editor would get rid of a few!

    Thanks for the commentary. Dan Brown certainly has made it big. Maybe he's an elegant writer!


  6. Hi, allow me to take a contrary position. Yes, we all need editors, but guess what? They make mistakes too. I think a writer must do a lot of his or her own editing. There is no reason why it can't be done; I do a lot of my own even though I absolutely need help from others.

  7. That's so funny, Karen. Elegant is such an odd word to scatter throughout a novel. Most of us pick little words like "just" or "some" or "well" to repeat over and over.

    I have Brown's novel sitting on my shelf along with King's Under the Dome, waiting for a long stretch of reading time. So many books...