What do I mean by this:
I like unpleasant things being counted in dozens. Not when they’re going on (so not like 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12) but when they’re being talked about. ‘A few dozen times’, ‘a couple dozen lashes’, that kind of thing.
Why do I like it:
The first time I saw this used in a story, I noticed myself really liking it, and thought a bit about why. I recently saw it in another story, remembered its appeal, and thought about this again.
I think it’s because saying ‘a few dozen’ is the perfect middle ground between the impact of something being very bad, and the impact of an amount.
Something being very bad appeals to me. The constrict being hit with something (whether this be a whip or an agony beam) and the description of the agony or other horribleness of this, etc.
Amount also appeals to me – the constrict having to endure something as it just keeps going.
Low numbers – say ‘5 times’ – give the first but not the second. High numbers give the second but lose the impact of the first – ‘a few hundred times’ means there just can’t be that much focus on each individual one.
Dozens are the perfect middle ground. Twelve doesn’t seem like such a high number – I can count to twelve in a few seconds – so I can still keep the impact of each instance. But ‘a few dozen’ also makes the final number high enough for the appeal of duration to come in.
Meanwhile, the ‘few’ and the ‘couple’ also bring in understatement, which is yet another thing that appeals to me.
I haven’t tried anything with it yet. It might be harder to incorporate, because of how it specifically has to do with talking about something in a third person way, but it would be interesting to try.