Beat around the bush

(With thanks to Dan DeWitt)

The doctor tapped his pen on his clipboard and coughed.
‘Well, Mr Wolfowitz,’ he said, ‘you suffer from a rare disorder known as Chronic Recurrent Meta-Synodic Genetic Reconfiguration.’
‘Okay,’ said Art, scratching the back of his hand. ‘What does that mean?’
‘Let me put it like this,’ the doctor said. ‘The episodes you have described experiencing and the associated symptoms – chronic restlessness, argyrophobia, sudden, unexplained hair growth, uncontrollable aggression – seem to occur on a regular cycle, do they not?’ Art nodded and flexed his toes, which suddenly felt very restricted inside his shoes.
‘What’s your point?’ he said.
‘That cycle is, broadly speaking, monthly, is it not?’ said the doctor.
‘Yeah. So?’ Now his ears itched. He scratched at them.
‘And the episodes only occur at night, is that correct? When the moon is visible?’
‘Look,’ snarled Art. ‘What are you getting at?’ He was feeling irritable and, all of a sudden, hungry.
‘The truth is, Mr Wolfowitz,’ the doctor sighed, ‘very little is known about Chronic Recurrent Meta-Synodic Genetic Reconfiguration. I’d like to keep you in overnight for tests. You can sleep here, in this flimsily-built cage, just underneath the skylight.’


  1. What could possibly go wrong? *snerk*

  2. I've been reading the blog for quite a while, and this is the first time (that I can remember at least) that the purportedly "bad" writing actually seems to be written quite well, so long as it's going for intentional humor.

  3. Now this is a helluva birthday present!

  4. So, what, Mr. Wolfowitz is some kinda... um... dwarf or something? I'm not sure where you're going with this.

  5. You're wrong on this. Taunting the reader with unanswered questions is not bad writing; it's effective writing. That taunting is the essence of tension, the screwdriver of the storycrafter's toolkit.

  6. "Taunting" is okay...sometimes...when the subject being hinted at isn't ridiculously obvious, which Joel is illustrating here.

    E.G. In "The Lost Symbol," the world's leading symbologist finds a tattoo on the palm of a severed hand. Brown writes pages of painfully forced attempts at solving it and they all appear to be stumped. The reader, on the other hand (pun!), is saying, "It's a Roman numeral upside down."

  7. Mr. Wolfowitz is a vampire!

  8. Long story short, you're a werewolf. I suggest planting some Wolfsbane in your window boxes.

  9. Awooo, werewolves of London...

  10. My headcanon is that the doctor isn't allowed to call him a werewolf for legal reasons (perhaps the insurance companies aren't willing to pay a doctor for a diagnosis of werewolf or something), and Mr. Wolfowitz is mocking him.