Slowly the adverbs crept towards the unsuspecting paragraph. Its sentences were relaxed, at ease. They had fought off the last attack by the adverbs and their attempt to break up the solid paragraph’s defensive phalanx. A couple of sentences had been lost, but the paragraph’s words were experienced fighters in the editing wars. They had been on many campaigns together, welding themselves into a solid fighting army of words, capable of making any story asked of them.
Of course, back in the training dictionary, some of the multisyllabic words had scorned their choice of fiction. Some words looked down on fiction as not a proper use of a word and all that it could mean. They preferred something solid, tangible, nonfiction about the real, the actual world, not this arty-farty nonsense conjured out of some – often-deluded – author’s own head.
Of course, the words drawn towards fiction had the obvious rejoinder, the answer to such presumed stinging barbs wielded by the non-fictionists.
Political speeches, manifestos, campaign pledges.
The non-fictionists were – of course – embarrassed. They all claimed they had no choice that some of them -despite everything they meant – didn’t intend to end up in the mouths or the word processors of the politicians and their speechwriters. But as those non-fiction sentences did point out, they all had dependent clauses to support.
There’s advertising too, of course, and estate agent property descriptions the fiction words said. The fiction words felt they were on a roll. There were so many abuses that the nonfiction world was open to. So many ways humans used words to impoverish and belittle the glory of language, enough to make some sentences cry commas of shame.
However, the non-fiction countered fiction’s claims of superiority with ghostwritten celebrity novels and TV and Film novelisations, as well as pointing out just what was on the bestseller list.
The fiction had blushed right down to its parentheses. But it countered that it was not responsible for the market. People bought what they wanted. At least, fiction catered to a need. It didn’t bombard people with nonsense, manipulated ‘facts’, bogus material and downright lies.
But all fiction is a lie, by definition, non-fiction claimed.
It was that which started the first exchange of fire.
Neither side admitted they were the first ones to fire off that initial volley of exclamation marks into the opposing ranks. But soon there was punctuation flying everywhere and sentences being spliced across the wordspace.
The red editor’s ink flowed across the battlefields as sentences and words fell, sometimes complete paragraphs at a time.
Some said it was worse than the Great First Draft War when whole chapters of a generation of words were wiped out. Others spoke of the fall of the Great Wall of Verbiage at the last General Election when words lost all sense of their own meaning and sat huddled in their dictionaries waiting for it all to be over.
But the war between fiction and non-fiction carried on. First non-fiction lost ground in the bestseller charts as fiction unleashed blockbuster after blockbuster, using some of the most clichéd erotica ever seen on the battlefield. But now, nonfiction was ready to fight back, massing a whole regiment of celebrity biographies, all ready to be unleashed.
Many said it would be over by Christmas. But others worriedly looked at the remainder bins and wondered how many more of them would be filled before it was – indeed – all over.