I wish I had time to go back and do the research to prove my point in this posting. But I don’t. I’m trying to do one last revision of Laps before tossing it out there into the big ocean of agents and seeing if it gets picked up or sinks. So going back to re-read or scan through several different books is simply not possible at this time. If it were, I’d be able to give you exact numbers and references.
Nevertheless, I have been amazed of late how many of the novels (and manuscripts) I’ve recently read feature the word “tendril” more than once. Suzanne Collins used it several times in both The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire. I believe I came across it more than once in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Carol Lynch Williams’s The Chosen One. I’d have to say, however, that the winner is the novel I completed on Sunday. Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott must feature that word at least five or six times.
How about you? Are you finding this word used more and more frequently? I actually used to like the word but, as they say, “familiarity breeds contempt.” What’s wrong with saying a “lock” of hair? Must it be a “tendril?” After all, tendrils refer more to plants, but the way I’ve seen it used (or shall I say overused) lately, I shouldn’t be surprised if its meaning slowly evolves away from the plant kingdom.
“Tendril” is not a common word, or at least it didn’t use to be. And that is precisely why it stands out so much to me in a story, particularly if used repeatedly. I suppose writers find it a touch poetic and so it appeals to them on that level. But I believe it’s reached the point of saturation.
How about you? Have you noticed it much in your readings? Do you like to use it yourself? Speak up, all you tendril-loving writers! I’m open to a discussion of its merits, as well as its weaknesses.
In the meantime, I’ve begun to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., and The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (this latter one with my son). You can be sure I’ll be keeping count of each and every “tendril” I come across.