“Coveting anything for Christmas?” Vickie said, kneading her computer mouse with her right hand.
would be preferable to this:
"Anything you really want for Christmas?” Vickie said, tapping her computer mouse with her right hand.
The one dissenting voice is Stephen King. "Use as plain language as you can," he says. "Never say 'I ambled down the corridor' if you can say 'I walked down the hall'."
Who's right? I suppose it depends whether your style is closer to Stephen King, or to literary New Yorker magazine columnists who pen books on how to write.
While I'm on this topic, Peng said tonight that he learned in Chinese secondary school the elements of fiction: focusing on conflict, eliminating non-essential plot development, exposing characters' personalities by creating scenes around their reactions, putting their passions at odds with each other.
I cannot say how indignant this made me.
Why, oh why, did my American high school english courses spend 90% of their time on symbolism? By graduation I could analyze a leaf falling from a tree six ways from Sunday, but I knew nothing of the basic fiction elements.
The falling leaf represents a fall from grace. The leaf's passage through the air is a rebirth through the birth canal. The leaf falling is an indication of fall turning to winter, hence the story moving to a new season. The separation from the mother tree is man's rejection of his origins. Or it is man's isolation from nature, going away from the forests and onto the cement sidewalks of modern society. The leaf will turn into mulch, indicating the cycle of death and life and continual struggle.
Why was I converted into an expert symbolism detector by age 14, but I didn't know fiction should resolve around conflict until I was 26 and self-studying off Amazon.com books?