What Did You Mean? – Re-blog

Still in vacation mode and don’t want to be tethered to my computer. Therefore I’m sharing another blog that was posted a long time ago. Don’t worry my people watching opportunities have given me some ideas for new posts that I will write and post soon.

What Did You Mean?

I have read stories and books that miss one very important thing. Setting up an emotionally charged statement before it happens.  When I’m reading dialogue it can be frustrating to get to the end of a sentence only to discover my inner-voice was way off on the tone that the character was meant to be speaking in. I call this emotional tone delay. I read said dialogue, find out the tone I imagined was wrong then have to either read it or mentally replay it in the correct tone.  If it happens too often I like the book less and less and less.

How it sounds in my head as the writer isn’t necessarily the way it sounds in the readers. This is why it is so important to create a welcoming world for the reader to jump into. Show them tone and emotion instead of bludgeoning them with a tag.

“Really?” Amber said with excitement.

By putting the tag at the end, what ‘voice’ I read that in was voided. As a reader that can be annoying and then all voices sound out deadpan and the emotion is applied after the fact. It makes for some terrible visualization and fantasy.

Amber grinned and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Really?” 

Sarcasm is often lost in print if I want to convey a tone of voice shows the tone by posturing the character. My rule I’ve adopted from others: Don’t get lazy and tell the tone.

“Really?” Dale said sarcastically.  

Set it up properly so the reader knows it’s sarcasm or tags it with an appropriate action.

Dale inhaled slowly. “Really?” He rolled his eyes.

Creating the tone before the character speaks is important. This can be as long as a paragraph or as short as a few words. Setting the reader up for a smooth transition to the words lets them enjoy the story without having to “re-hear” it in their head before moving on.  So what happens if the set up is the wrong emotion conveying action?

Scott tilted his head to the side. “Really?” 

That could be humor, anger, annoyance, sarcasm or maybe tease. Normally in a story, there would be leading up to a statement like that. But I’ll pretend there isn’t and Scott’s statement is the start of the conversation or scenario. While tilting the head can convey emotion it is often a quirk or habit that without context could mean anything.

Scott crossed his arms, tilted his head to the side with his brow furrowed. “Really?”

Sure it get’s wordy, however, if I really want to show the reader how Scott feels then I will make it work. I might even take the head tilting out unless I have that as Scott’s quirk. I wouldn’t want everyone going around gesturing the same way.

Scott tilted his head to the side as a sly grin spread across his face. “Really?”

Scott’s head tilted to the side as he stifled a snicker. “Really?”

Scott’s fist slammed on the table then he tilted his head. “Really?”

If the tone isn’t foreshadowed by action before the statement, the reader will likely project their own emotion into it. That may or may not work out and may or may not put them off the story which in turn will mean devastation for the review and reader’s opinion of the story and author.  I can write words and have my own idea how they are supposed to sound, but if I don’t let the reader in on it, then I’ve let them down.

My advice about acting out emotion.
I do this to keep the reader engaged, I highly recommend it. Don’t let the reader decide what ‘vocal’ tone the characters are using, show them so the meaning behind the word isn’t lost. After all, you don’t want a character to move when you mean swoon. 

-Sheryl

A post or two from a while back.

Squirrelly concentration at best

Time to take out the trash

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Tether

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Holy Hyper Hyperboles

I love learning and writing. There is one aspect of writing that is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. Using Hyperbole.

Hyperbole is to make a point using extreme exaggeration. It’s also a fun word to say.

hy·per·bo·le

If I were writing non-fiction I wouldn’t be using hyperbole. They are generally used in fiction and media. They can add humor and character to a story. However, as with all good things, moderation is key.

Like metaphors and simile’s, hyperboles are comparisons, however, they are ostentatious in nature even ridiculous. It’s not recommended to take them literally or one might find the scenario quite hilarious.

Using hyperboles in literature shows contrasts. One thing is described with an over-statement and the other is presented normally. This is a catchy technique used to keep the reader reading.  For example, “He’s as skinny as a toothpick.” The overstatement is the toothpick and the normal is him being skinny. “He is skinny.” Works just fine, but it’s more entertaining to add “as a toothpick.”

Bringing a boring section of the story to life with a hyperbole is fun.

Here are some examples

I’ve said it a thousand times.

I’m so hungry I could eat a cow.

I have a bazillion things to get done.

I have a ton of work to finish.

His breath was so bad it knocked me over.

I think those make it clear.

So how about an example? Okay since you insist.

Amber stood before the full-length mirror naked. She poked at her still flat tummy and pouted. “I’m going to get as fat as a whale.”

Dale looked her over from head to toe. “What do you mean going to?”

She laughed, grabbed a purple pillow and threw it at his head. “Jerk.”

“You could put some meat on, you’re nothing but skin and bones.” He tossed the pillow back.

“I swear Dale you’re dumb as a stump sometimes.” She squealed as he grabbed her by the waist and tickled her ribs. “Stop, stop I give in.” She laughed and fell back on the bed pulling him with her. “I’m glad you’re not boring and tease me.”

Dale leered at her breasts. “Oh, I’ll tease you all right.” His wicked grin made her try to get away unsuccessfully.

I probably wouldn’t put that much into one conversation, but that was kinda fun. I know I use hyperboles regularly. Not so often, it’s annoying but there are times when a character is flustered or excited and spouts one out. I don’t know if I use them in narrative… I might have to check that.

My advice about Hyperboles.
Why not use one to spice up a statement so boring it put the entire world to sleep.

-Sheryl

Other posts by me with the color purple in them

Something different, something fun

Little Angelic Villians

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Purple

It’s funny you said that…

Originally, this blog was going to be about trapdoors, but that fell through.

Humor in writing is difficult. Not everybody has the same taste or sense of humor. Chances are if it’s funny to you, it will be funny to someone else too.

I found it’s all about set up. A well-timed joke or funny comment or moment requires foreshadow. Not the, hit your reader over the head with an Obvious set up, but something subtle.

The thing about humor is it’s personal. Not just to me the writer, or to you the reader, but mostly to the character in the story. If they don’t have personality or a pre-designed history the humor might fall flat. A sarcastic person is not likely to be droll but may use self-depreciating humor. A person prone to dry humor is likely witty and might lean on morbid humor. This is where its important that I know my characters.

Similes, metaphors, satire or irony are great methods of humor. A funny moment doesn’t have to be directly in the conversation either, it can be in the narrative or environment around the characters.

There are of course books galore and articles explaining how to be funny. They have some examples, but ironically are not funny in themselves. Or at least the few I attempted to read.

I found as I developed my characters funny moments just happened naturally. Conflicting or contrasting personalities helps.

Puns are easy, lazy and often work:

They were exhausted and ready to drop. As usual Carl was pushing them hard and receiving death glares from more than one in his unit.

“Come on boys bend like you actually give a squat!”

Larry leaned his head toward Cam. “Yells the guy doing diddly-squats.”

Cam snickered nearly losing his balance.

Maybe that’s funny, maybe not. I liked it.

My advice about humor.
Don’t sweat it, nothing slays the dragon of humor like overthinking it. If you’re stuck I suggest thinking about things that make you laugh. Next time someone says something funny write it down and think about why it made you laugh.

“It’s difficult to explain humor to kleptomaniacs, because they take things literally.” -unknown

– Sheryl

Other blogs you might find funny.

Silliness and seriousness

What happened to that guy?

 

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