Oh, Nancy!

This post was written by Friday guest blogger Annie Reid.

When I was nine years old, on a particularly auspicious birthday, I was enrolled in something along the lines of the Nancy Drew book of the month club. Every month or two, a new hardcover bookclub edition of a classic Nancy Drew would show up at my door. They were all pale lavender, I remember, with oil paintings imprinted right on the thin covers, dust jackets being beside the point for nine year olds. Like any self-respecting suburban white nine-year old, I wanted to be Nancy Drew. But more importantly, I wanted to dress like Nancy Drew*.

Now, to my delight and joy, Cleolinda Jones distills the Nancy Drew novels into one handy plot outline:

E. Stop meddling, Nancy Drew! We’re so dangerous that we
1. made a threatening call to your house!
2. left a threatening letter in your mailbox!
3. ran you off the road!
4. broke into your bedroom!
5. drugged and kidnapped you!
6. left you
a. tied up in a closet!
b. rolled up in a blanket! A really dangerous blanket!
c. locked up someplace where NO ONE WILL EVER FIND YOU!
1. (except that George totally does)
2. (except that Bess totally does)
3. (except that Ned totally does)
3b. (not that you’re going to put out, even so)
7. tried to kill you with spiders/lizards/poison gas!
8. didn’t bother to snap your neck when we had the chance!

F. Oh no! Mr. Drew has gone missing! He’s…
1. being held for ransom
2. stuffed in a secret tunnel somewhere
3. drugged and tied up in one of those hotels where they steal your kidneys
4. back at the hotel and totally fine, dumbass

*As much as I loved them, and god, did I love them, they’ve inspired a phrase I use over and over again in teaching writing. “That’s a Nancy Drew moment,” I’ll say. “You don’t need that.” A Nancy Drew moment is when a writer has spent a disproportionate amount of time describing the character’s hair and clothing, particularly when neglecting things like, oh, say, character development. As in, “Nancy darted out of the house in her lime green mini-skirt, her pink casmere sweater and white PVC go go boots which she’d only bought the day before, her strawberry blond hair glinting in the sun as she joined George, in her navy blue wool pea coat, in the convertible.”


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