Eight Deadly Words

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The Eight Deadly Words are a single sentence which amateur and professional authors use to warn themselves and each other against boring the reader by writing unappealing or two-dimensional characters.

The words are: I don't care what happens to these people -- followed by the reader closing the book, leaving the theater, or otherwise giving up on the story.

The idea has probably been floating around in literature since Homer's time, but was codified by Dorothy Jones Heydt in 1991.

Heydt: "It was myself who coined them, and the occasion was getting to about Chapter Two, Volume Two, of [Robert Jordan's] The Wheel of Time, and shutting the book and giving the whole set (three or four books at that time, I believe) to my niece, who had a long train trip ahead of her."

According to Justin Bacon, "The first time Dorothy Heydt used the words "I don't care what happens to these people" was, according to Google Groups, in 1991. It was in reference to The Copper Crown [by Patricia Kennealy]. The first time these were referred to as the Eight Deadly Words was in 1993, when she was discussing [Guy Gavriel Kay's] The Fionavar Tapestry.

There is a female-fronted hard rock band called Eight Deadly Words in England.


Eight Deadly Words on tvtropes

David's Credo From David Brukman's blog, talking about how he judges good books