I have come across a line in writing that I find to be uninspired and lazy and super annoying. It is like this:
The story contains a mystery. All good stories do. There is something beneath the surface driving the story. The characters are having a serious conversation. They are worried about a thing that is happening. They are discussing life, an event, multiple events. Then one of them asks a question and another gives the following response:
"Something is coming."
Really? Something is coming? You may as well say, "This book contains a plot." "This television series is interesting, just you wait for this particular thing that will happen!" Something is ALWAYS coming. In every story, no matter how ordinary, something will aways be coming.
I came across this line most recently in The Mysterious Benedict Society. In this book, messages are being broadcast behind television signals and people are being brainwashed. Only the most intelligent people are immune. So this guy is trying to make these really smart children understand. They ask a question. A simple question. "So what's wrong?" There is a dramatic pause. "Something is coming."
This is really hard for me to criticize as it is an effect that is also overused by my beloved Doctor. At the end of Season Two, just before the most heartbreaking finale in all of television history*, the Doctor and Rose are standing in the middle of the street looking at the stars and the Doctor tells her, "Something is coming." And I'm pretty sure that is not the only time he has said it. There have been storms brewing and something coming in every season. And as much as I love the show, and as brilliant as I believe the writers to be, it is still the most annoying dramatic device I can think of. Surely there is a more creative way to signify a major event is about to take place. Surely.
If Ishmael stands on the deck of the boat looking for the whale and then and announces that "Something is coming", I am throwing the book out of the window.
*I might be biased. I mean, I haven't watched all of television ever. But it's a pretty intense scene and there aren't many television shows that make me weep like I am the one experiencing the "thing that has come."