It’s difficult to describe my extreme reaction to some descriptive words. When the phrase “sentimental journey” is applied to a work of fiction I run the other way. All the gentle, corny, and tender words in an ad for a book, a film summary, or an email with a discount coupon for theater tickets, open up my fear of maudlin, schmaltzy, mawkish—and most of all—heartwarming, entertainment. It’s not that I don’t cry at the sad parts. My tears flow easily at sad/sweet/bittersweet moments, but when the overall tone is “heartwarming” I head in the other direction.
I can’t remember feeling any other way. Even as a child, I was turned off by the sentimental Disney productions. Today, I know that it’s easy for a good storyteller to manipulate my emotions. I worry about the protagonist in a good mystery—sometimes I want to scream, “Don’t go down to the basement without a new battery in your flashlight!” Or “He’s too good to be true!” And when something sad or romantic happens in the midst of an adventure, I’m the first one reaching for my box of tissues.
Still… I avoid the simplistic, one-note, sentimental, tone of many famous and popular books. They don’t make me cry, they make me angry. Is it because I fall prey to the heartwarming tendrils of drivel and resent feeling manipulated? Or, perhaps, is the feeling a little like eating a bowl of cookie dough? One bite is great, but too much is a sugar overload. My name may be Candy, but I want a nuanced menu for my entertainment diet. I’ll leave the heartwarming confections to other readers.
What do you think? Do the descriptive words meant to entice potential readers create a stop sign in your head? Please share…