Faulty Parallelism: Parallelism With a Rebel

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Faulty Parallelism

Parallelism is the literary device. Faulty parallelism occurs when the device takes a wayward turn from the parallel structure or format in listing or pairing items.

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The writer begins his sentence with two or more similarly related words or phrases. The rhythm soothes the reader. Then the writer deviates from the pattern, and the derailment jars the reader.

Here are examples:

1. Craig liked to sketch, sculpture, and painting.


Craig liked to sketch, sculpture, and paint.

Craig liked sketching, sculpturing, and painting

2. Jake excelled in art, science, and learning history.


Jake excelled in art, science, and history.

3. I am not so much worried about global warming as the heat it’s causing among people.


I am not so much worried about global warming as I am about the heat it’s causing among people.

Changes in verb construction

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4. The gardener worked hard planting azaleas, trimming trees, and mowed the lawn.


The gardener worked hard planting azaleas, trimming trees, and mowing the lawn.


The gardener worked hard. He planted azaleas, trimmed trees, and mowed the lawn.

Noun construction veering to a verb

5. Anna usually dressed in pink-hued blouses, black pencil skirts, and pulled on multicolored tights.


Anna usually dressed in pink-hued blouses, black pencil skirts, and multicolored tights.

Verb phrase construction detouring to a noun

6. Learning to listen is important in understanding what’s said, gaining information to form a response, and politeness.


Learning to listen is important in understanding what’s said, gaining information to form a response, and being polite.

Awkward sentences

7. Clarice interrupted her opponent, then adding to that using profanity, and infuriating the debate judges.


Clarice interrupted her opponent, used profanity, and infuriated the debate judges.

8. Grace needed to turn on her charm or it would be necessary for her to turn off her stubbornness.


Grace needed to turn on her charm or turn off her stubbornness. 

9. Stu was out of control also with shrillness and he was angry.


Stu was out of control, shrill, and angry.

Although faulty parallelism can jar or confuse a reader, it’s easy to correct. Click to tweet.

To you as a reader, is faulty parallelism invisible or annoying?

Authorial Intrusion – Readers Get a Dose from the Writer

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Authorial Intrusion as a Literary Device

In authorial intrusion, the author directly addresses the reader, intending to build a relationship with the reader on some level.

This literary device was popular until the 20th century. The movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), represents well-planned authorial intrusion as Ferris tells about his day off.

How to employ authorial intrusion.

I’ve put the intrusion in italics solely to highlight it for you.

  1. Give an opinion about a character or event.

    Couldn’t Bill rake faster? The debate team would blame him if Bill was late. Jack snatched the rake from Bill and piled up leaves. Bill watched.
    It was common knowledge that Jack could be impatient at times, and this was one of those times.

  1. Explain or inform readers on setting, characters, props, and plot and offer opinions throughout the story.

Cassie stealthily handed Ruth the bobbin. Bobbins are used in sewing machines to hold the thread that catches the top thread in the needle to make a stitch.

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3. Supply information that the point-of-view character couldn’t mentally or physically know.

Wendy had no energy to can peaches. Unchecked cancer cells inside her lungs were dividing to develop a second tumor.


  1. Tell readers about an upcoming event unknown to the character.

As Jack stretched his leg muscles, butterflies in his stomach jumped the official’s gun and raced in circles. In minutes, he’d collect his winnings and have the money to propose to Kate. You can imagine how devastated Jack will feel when he loses the race.

  1. Philosophize.

Tina interrupted the flow of her novel and told the reader her character was headstrong. She was no worse than other novice writers who disrupt the story to tell the reader something they could easily show from the character’s point of view.


Using authorial intrusion is difficult to interest today’s reader. It is more successful for children’s books.

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For novels in which characters tell the story, the writer’s voice is a definite intrusion and pulls the reader out of the story. The reader may be identifying with a character, then is suddenly in a one-sided conversation with the writer. The reader doesn’t know whom he should identify with—the character or the author.

Remember, in first-person narrative the character should give thoughts, opinions, and observations that belong to him, not to the narrator.

Author Intrusion: Unintentional Weak Writing

Sometimes, writers slip into their stories. I imagine the character looking up and saying:

“Author, did you mean to interrupt my leap off the truck? Was explaining that my jump was a bad move because I had broken my ankle five years ago necessary? I was just about to hit the ground, roll, and then duck into the roadside ravine before the driver sees me. Now you’ve distracted the reader from my cool move. Are you so jealous of my relationship with the reader that you must call attention to yourself? How about letting me tell my story? Don’t you agree, Reader? It’s just you and me until the end.”

Is authorial intrusion on your agenda or does it sneak into your writing? Click to tweet.

Which do you prefer: intimacy with the hero/heroine or with the author through authorial intrusion?

Circumlocution – Bore Readers with Overkill, or Not?

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Writing that expresses something in a roundabout or indirect way, using many unnecessary words.

Circumlocution can be understandable or unintelligible.


A large portion of the class grabbed a goodly number of the assignments, far and beyond what they should have, in view of the fact that some of the students hadn’t been afforded the opportunity to look at the list.

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A Rewrite

Much of the class grabbed many of the assignments, more than they should have, because some students hadn’t been permitted to view the list.



Common Circumlocution

Circumlocution is usually amateur writing. Sometimes a writer can’t think of the word for a thing, event, or action. So, he describes it. Or, he writes in clichés. Other times, he may use wordiness when he wants to avoid a word that might be offensive, thus he uses a euphemism, e.g. in the family way instead of pregnant.

The wordiness in unplanned circumlocution should be edited.

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Crafted Circumlocution

A writer or his character wants to:

avoid revealing his true intentions (talk in circles).

evade his position on an issue or sound honest (politicians).

avoid answering a question.

manipulate his audience’s perceptions.

change the topic.

add poetic flowery.

insert humor.

sell a product or idea.

talk in a roundabout way (overly polite or submissive).

use innuendo to get what he wants.

make an indirect insult.

appear intelligent or grandiose.

keep a conversation going when he doesn’t know what to say but doesn’t want to loose his audience.

stall someone.

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Common Phrases Used in Circumlocution

a large portion of (much of)

a goodly number (many)

at this point in time (at this time) (now)

in the not-too-distant future (soon)

in the vicinity of (near)

put in an appearance (appear)

took into consideration (consider)

made a statement saying (said, stated)

far and beyond (more)

must have without fail (need)

until such time as (until)

afforded an opportunity for (permit)

in reference to (about)

with the exception of (except)

in a timely fashion (quickly)

in spite of (notwithstanding) the fact that (although)

due to (in light of, in view of) the fact that (because)

on the grounds that (because)

in the event of (if)

was in possession of (had)

the manner in which (how)

I am going to (I will)

in my humble opinion, I think (I think)


“Mayor, why are you closing down the community senior center?”
“We’re always looking for ways to do good things for our community. Look at the manner in which we refurbished our parks in a timely fashion for children all over town. We support how certain theaters have cut the cost for senior citizen discounts. (evade his position)

“The manner in which you react to students is amazing not withstanding the number of people who have switched to other classes.” (indirect insult)

“I’m in possession of a number of books on writing, and I’m going to take into consideration sharing them with people who like me and I them.” (manipulate audience’s perception or poor writing)

Do you weary readers with or craft circumlocution for a purpose? Click to tweet.

Can you rewrite the circumlocution examples, cutting their words by at least a third?