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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tom Swifians and Tom Swift

The term "Tom Swifians" of course means putting an adverb in the dialgoue tag. "I like you," Tom said swiftly.  We are told in creative writing to get the emotion into the dialgoue, and to not stick it woodenly into the dialogue tag, "Tom said sadly."  

The Tom Swift novels hare said to be full of Tom Swiftians.  Hence the term.  There are a lot of these novels. They are still being produced. You might call them Nancy Drew for boys. It's a bit of a franchise as are the James Bond films. The series, are they masculist, as the Nancy Drew books are feminist, role models for future men active in the world and not chained to corporate desks? I see a dissertation here, if it hasn't already been written.

I have never read a Tom Swift novel to see if any or all of the novels, written by different people under pseudonyms, indeed do overuse the dialogue tag plus adverb. It could be, once the word got out, that the later writers cut back on their Ton Swiftians while keeping some as a signature for the long running series.  See Wikipedia article below:

Tom Swift (in some versions Tom Swift, Jr.) is the name of the central character in five series, totaling over 100 volumes, of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention, and technology. The character was created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm. His adventures have been written by a number of different ghostwriters over the years. Most of the books are published under the collective pseudonym Victor Appleton. The 33 volumes of the second series use the pseudonym Victor Appleton II.
The character first appeared in 1910. New titles have been published as recently as 2007. Most of the various series focus on Tom’s inventions, a number of which have anticipated actual inventions. The character has been presented in different ways over the years. In general, the books portray science and technology as wholly beneficial in their effects, and the role of the inventor in society has been treated as admirable and heroic.
Translated into a number of languages, the books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Tom Swift has also been the subject of a board game and a television show. Development of a feature film based on the series was announced in 2008.
A number of prominent figures, including Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov, have cited "Tom Swift" as an inspiration. Several inventions, including the taser, have been directly inspired by the fictional inventions.

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