Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the printout. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take it.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

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Lifestyle

Eclipses of Ellipses…

One of my favorite ‘fun to read’ authors uses dashes and ellipses spot on. She’s the one I emulate when I think of writing dialogue and structuring it correctly.

When we speak we pause, break, hum and haw, um and ah and very often we trail off just before or even at the end of a sentence.  Dialogue would be stiff and dull if we didn’t include these verbal patterns or quirks. When it comes to characters and how they speak I am careful to make sure they are different in some way. None of my characters are identical, sometimes they become similar but not identical. It’s important to know how to give them particular speech mannerisms in written word.

For today’s topic, I’m talking about the habit or event of trailing off during or at the end of a sentence. Different than a pause it’s more like a hesitant break or hesitant ending. To express this in writing we use Ellipses.

So what are Ellipses they and how do I use them?

Ellipses… Three (Yes only three and always three) consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out. Three dots with no spaces between the last letter of the word, nor in-between them.

When used in dialogue it’s as if someone is lost in thought, thinking, about to Eureka, disheartened, forgetful, afraid to finish, hinting at the suggestion and so on. They are trailing off…

“That sounds…” Amber grimaced and shook her head gently.

Or

“Hey Dale, I wanted to ask you…” Amber looked away a flush rising to her cheeks.

Ellipses are great for characters that don’t know how to finish a sentence, don’t want to or don’t know how to. I probably use these too much. There is a point in my revision process where I will plunk the three consecutive dots into the ‘find’ feature of *word and seek-and-destroy any superfluous ellipses. I would hate for my readers to be bogged down by what I call Eclipses of ellipses… Too many too often.  I have been known to use this manner of ‘speaking’ as a particular quirk of a character. If I do that, I avoid other characters trailing off or fading out as they talk.

Outside of dialogue, in the narrative, ellipses are also used to suggest time is about to pass but isn’t quite worthy of page time. This used to omit a section of time that needs to be pointed out but not actually addressed in the story. I don’t actually use this form in my writing often.

Amber walked swiftly out of the office. Tomorrow would be a better day, but for now, she would go home and think about what happened and what she could do about it…

I have seen authors use these omission ellipses to re-introduce back from the omitted section. This is not something I would do often, if at all.

Amber walked swiftly out of the office. Tomorrow would be a better day, but for now, she would go home and think about what happened and what she could do about it…

… The walk to work was brisk. With a resolution to her predicament, Amber’s heels clicked with confidence. (The paragraph would continue on from here.)

I would probably use a chapter break instead of ellipses in this fashion unless there wasn’t enough content to warrant it. For the most part, I use ellipses in dialogue or to end a suggestive bit of narrative. Perhaps a cliff-hanger.

My advice about Ellipses.
If used properly they can… bring a certain tone or voice to a character or situation. As with all things, too much of a good thing…

-Sheryl

Other punctuation posts

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

Running off with Run-on’s

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None

Monologue-ing

Here I go again on dialogue and the use of quotations. In line with the recent posts on proper dialogue structure, I wanted to talk about something I personally try to avoid.

Long drawn out speeches. They are notoriously found with the vain, boss’s, teachers and the villains of the story. The more evil they are, the more they like to ramble.

I’ll admit I often sneak around long speeches of dialogue. Ideally, conversation or dialogue should be to the point and relevant to the story. However, there are times when someone must prattle on or explain something uninterrupted. If for whatever reason this can’t be done in narrative and absolutely must be done in dialog, then omitting quotation marks in a long speech is necessary. (Unless like me, I break long speeches up with action tags and moments of descriptive narrative or other people interrupting.

I’ll demonstrate with two paragraphs (Two is the minimum for this). Because when someone goes on a long-winded gum-flapping event, they should be making relevant points that are generally independent of the other, but part of the same speech.

To do this I will omit the quotation at the end of the first paragraph but start the second with one and end the second with quotations like this:

Valery turned to the group at the table. “Okay team, settle down. We have a lot to cover and not a lot of time to do it. As you all know, Sasha has been away and will likely be gone for a while. You have all worked very hard to cover her workload and your efforts are greatly appreciated. I need to ask you all to continue.

“Dale, I want you to take Trisha on as your apprentice. She needs to learn your job if I’m to move you up to senior graphics as we discussed this morning. It’s a little more work, but you can handle it. Oh and bring George into your team for the next while to cover layouts.

“Amber, The Dairy Co-op account has sent in their new requests and they completely negate all the work already done on the account. It is an entirely new approach and the project needs one person to take the reins. You are ready for this challenge and I know you won’t let me down.”

Amber nodded in understanding, doing her best not to let her glee show. She’d been waiting for this moment. A chance to shine and prove her worth.

I’m not always comfortable using this dialogue punctuation and try to avoid it by assessing the actual need for this lengthy dialogue. Honestly, it could be easily be summed up in one or two narrative sentences. If I do, I am careful to make sure what is said is important to the story. That it is imperative. I’ll take this opportunity to remind the readers that Sasha is missing, that Amber is stepping up to the plate even though she was, up until recently, a terrible worker and person. If none of that was relevant to the story or character development, I would have narrated for sure.

My advice about monologue-ing.
If it’s necessary, pack as much relevant information in as possible. Ask yourself if this could be better served as a spot of narrative. Or played out in a more exciting way within the story. Oh and punctuate it properly please.

-Sheryl

Other rambling posts

What happened yesterday?

The “word count” down.

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Apprentice
Notorious

“Who’s Talking?”

I’m continuing on my dialogue punctuation quest. My goal is to hopefully see less of these simple, yet easy to make errors. Ones I know I myself have done in my typing haste, but hopefully catch them when editing and revising. I’d like to remind you that I’m not at all a professional, I never profess to be. I’m just me, a writer on the quest to have my books published. The fact that I even say books (As in plural) is amazing to me. Along the way, I’ve had to research and learn and discover new things in all aspects of writing, editing, revising and the quest to land a Literary agent and hopefully a publishing contract. Through this, I try to read and explore things, subjects and styles I’ve never tried or learned before.

I certainly hope my dear followers/readers don’t feel belittled by my tips and advice. I figure if the information/reminder/lesson is good for me, then it’s likely to be helpful to others.

Now on to today’s topic. Multiple lines of dialogue. Yup, generally when people talk there is more than one person participating. Unless you’re crazy like I am and talk to yourself. “Say what?” Oh boy I have some interesting conversations with me.

When writing dialogue (My favourite subject) Always start a new paragraph for a new speaker. This keeps the text easy to read and follow. It is crazy kinds of frustrating to have no idea who’s speaking or to have to sift through the dialogue to figure out who’s talking.

Example time:

Incorrect:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back. “Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t wake up already knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly. Dale hugged her tight.
“That’s a relief.” She squeezed back. “I’m so happy.” He said.

Oh my… What? Yes, believe it or not I’ve slogged through dialogue like this. What happens? I stop reading after cringing and becoming frustrated. This rule applies even if one of the speakers doesn’t speak.

Correct:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back.

“Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t already wake up knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”

She squeezed back.

“I’m so happy.” He said.

OR (Single or double spaced is a personal preference. But the industry standard is double) If you go single, it’s very important to make sure each character starts talking on their own line.

Correct:
“Really good today. Didn’t barf once and I don’t feel sick at all.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”
She squeezed back.
“I’m so happy.” He said.

That was a great deal easier to read and understand who says what and how.

Dialogue doesn’t have to be hard, and as always it should have a point and not just be pointless conversation. People don’t want to read that, they can just go to work/school/home and live it… sigh. Readers want the juicy bits, the parts that carry and take the story forward. The parts that deliver the goods and not the stuff that drives a word count up for the sake of it.

My advice about Paragraphing Dialogue.
Um… you sort of have to so the readers can tell who’s talking. Well I suppose you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but don’t be surprised if the reactions are not what you hoped for.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

Creative Dialogue Tags

Tag! You’re it.

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Knackered

“Inside.” — “Not out”.

I recently mentioned in a post on how to use Quotation styles. Basically, pick one and stick with it. “Double” or ‘Single’. Recently I’ve been looking at some basic rules, the roots of writing. (Yes, there are those out there that will disagree. That’s your right to.) These rules are not fly-by-night however. They are tried and true. They are found in most properly edited works.

The one rule break I’m most irked by is not keeping punctuation in it’s proper place regarding dialogue. To me this is important. Once I’ve decided which quotation style to use. (Always double for me) then it’s important to keep the dialogue punctuation with in the quotations.

For example:

Incorrect: “Hey Amber”, Dale smiled. “How’s it going”?
Correct: “Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?

Incorrect:
“This is the worst day ever”! Scott shouted.
“It could be worse”. Dale rolled his eyes. 
“How”
“Losing your car keys and spilling your coffee is minor”. Dale chuckled. “Amber puked on me, slipped in it and cried for an hour this morning”.

Correct:
“This is the worst day ever!” Scott shouted.
“It could be worse.” Dale rolled his eyes.
“How?
“Losing your car keys and spilling your coffee is minor.” Dale chuckled and slapped his knee. “Amber puked on me, slipped in it and cried for an hour this morning.

I don’t enjoy reading dialogue punctuation outside the quotations.  Sure, this happens to me by mistake when I get in a groove and grammar and punctuation take a side line as I hammer away at my keyboard. However, it’s corrected the moment I start editing and revising. (Ideally).

*Amendment to this post. Other countries such as Great Britain use outside punctuation for dialogue. It’s not what I’m familiar with since I’m in North America. Books published from British authors are sometimes converted to the North American standard when published internationally. This blog and all that I write about are based off North American standards.

My advice about Dialogue punctuation.
“Keep it inside the quotation marks.” (Unless your from Great Britain or other countries that keep it on the outside) 

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

That’s So Simile

Redundantly Redundant Redundancies

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Roots

It’s not, not negative

Two wrongs make a right, right? No it’s still wrong. Well what about two negatives? In writing putting two negatives in the same sentence is called a double negative. We learn this pretty early in school. However the lesson is often lost at time goes on. For some.

Double negatives. I have been seeing these puppies popping up more and more in literature. Mostly in self published pieces that are poorly edited/revised. Not only do they make a sentence harder to interpret than necessary they are often wordy (You all know how I like to keep my word count down).

I can’t think of a single reason I’d purposefully put a double negative into narrative. It would be like saying I can’t think of no reason to put double negatives into narrative. Blech. Dialogue is where I’ve been spying these parasites. Not only do they harsh the sentence, they affect what I call ‘reader reception’ The act of how a reader receives the words written and whether they enjoy them or not.

Basically a double negative is a very round about way to say something positive.

There are more than one type of double negative.

Double Negative Examples

  • I can’t take you kids nowhere.
  • She never goes with nobody.
  • I’ve not seen neither Bill or Bob play baseball.
  • I can’t do nothing about this. 
  • He didn’t want no one to see him cry.

Prefix Double negatives.  Forming a negative using in-, non-, ir- and un.

  • This behavior is not uncommon.
  • The damage was not insignificant.
  • She wasn’t irresponsible with her dog Spike.
  • It’s not unnecessary to lie.

Negative word double negatives. Using a negative word to form the double negative.

  • I can’t barely eat another bite.
  • They seldom don’t often go out to play.
  • I hardly have no patience left.
  • The news scarcely made no impression on me

Are you cringing yet? I am.

I know what you’re thinking. Some people do talk this way. That is true. If, and this is a big fat if, I was going to use double negatives in dialogue because this is how I want a person to speak, I’d be careful to only have one person talk this way and not a major character. If every person in the story spoke this way it would turn me off very quickly. I’d close the book and probably never give it a second chance. Readers automatically expect a higher level of grammar regardless.

Here is an example of how the flow and ‘reader reception’ is altered by double negatives.

Amber scratched her head looking at the nail-polish poster layouts and the opinion data. “This data doesn’t make no sense to me. I can’t just do nothing to fix this.”
Dale looked around the divider between their desks. “It’s not rocket science. That advertisement scarcely had no feedback in the preliminaries. You need to run some more focus groups. I say target the younger ages.”
Amber nodded looking at the three potential layouts. “It worked for the colour changing shoes, It isn’t right not to try more groups.”

I barfed a bit in my mouth, I’m not going to lie. Okay so that was extreme, however it show’s the awkwardness of the double negative dialogue. It becomes stilted to read and hard to interpret. When I read. I dislike when the pace is slowed down unnecessarily.

Amber scratched her head looking at the nail-polish poster layouts and the opinion data. “I’m confused over this data. I need to fix this.”
Dale looked around the divider between their desks. “It’s not rocket science. That advertisement had scarce feedback in the preliminaries. You need to run some more focus groups. I say target the younger ages.”
Amber nodded looking at the three potential layouts. “It worked for the colour changing shoes, I definitely need to to try more groups.”

When I edit and revise I search for negative words. Negative sentences can leave a gloomy feel and with a little tweaking they can come out sounding more natural.

My advice about Double negatives in writing.
I didn’t not want to be clever with my advice about leaving double negatives out. Leave them out. There, I wasn’t irresponsible with my advice.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The Runaway

All that glitters…

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Spike

That’s just the way it works

Writing is different for everyone. What is written, how and why. There is no wrong or ultimate right way. Sometimes the words flow easily other times the creativity bed is dry and parched. The pace at which I write can depend on a great number of things.

Time of day
Available time
Distractions
Mental Health
Physical Health
Emotional State
Stress/Anxiety
Energy level
The writing space itself
Anything that takes you away from the train of thought/creation.

The inspiration for writing can come from anywhere. Whether it’s a blogging daily prompt, a movie recently watched, a trip taken or a bug hitting the windshield. It can come at any time in any place in every and any possible form. The factors above can easily affect the ability to recognize inspiration just as much as it can throw a wrench in the actual writing process.

There are days when I actually can’t keep up with what I need to write. Then there are others where I take multiple pauses to imagine out the different scenario possibilities. Then there are the times when nothing happens.

I think of my writing phases like this

Drought – There is just nothing there. Noooothiiiing.
Foggy lake – The ideas are already there just below the surface useless beneath the fog. 
A spring rain – The ideas are on the way, gathering and about to bloom beautifully.
A storm – The ideas are raging and pouring down. I need to write them down so I don’t lose track Too much too fast, but still manageable.
A flowing River – It’s all good, I’m in a groove and loving every word of it.
A Vast Ocean – too much going on to bring it in line. No direction, currents of thought taking me in too many directions at once.

On drought days I walk away. I do something different and don’t worry about the lack of writing. Taking time to live life and gather moments that lend experience to inspiration, are just as important as writing. It’s how the spring rains come or the fog lifts from the lake.

Things that can get the creative river flowing

Movies
Books
Poetry
Music (I can’t count the number of times a song has inspired a chapter or character story arc. Sometimes it’s as simple as the emotion it evokes)
A party
A Play
Exercise
A comedy that induces laughs and chuckles (Or just laughing)
A visit to the park/amusement park/carnival/pier/zoo/pool etc. 
Basically anywhere where people/animals are to do interesting things.

I’m not talking plagiarism or stealing ideas, I’m talking about being inspired. Everything was written was inspired by an outside influence. That’s just the way it works. Some idiot mouths off in a coffee shop. Voila, new minor villain enters my creation factory. I tweak, twist and give them something plot related to say and Bam! Jack the sweaty asscrack guy with a racist comment enters the story to stir up trouble. That fly that hit the windshield? Toss that into the factory and instead of one its a swarm that actually paints the car in a crunchy gooey sticky mess… But why? And welcome a disgusting plot twist.

I’ve talked about creativity drought before (Post link is below) and it will likely come up again. Why? Because it happens. I see it every day with fellow writers and even myself from time to time. The frustration it can cause is real and can quickly become a cycle of frustration, doubt, depression, frustration and back around and around and around.

The trick I think is to recognize your writing phases (however you like to imagine them) Whether you see them as rivers, cogs turning, wheels, or even seasons. Be able to recognize when you’re in them and what you can do to move to a more desirable one if need be.

My advice about how to write.
Do it your way, that is the only way that will work for you. Never shy away from advice but don’t take it as gospel. And always, always take time for you.

-Sheryl

Some Posts that touch on creativity:

Doubt clouds out creativity

Query letter “creativity drought”.

(Insert description here)

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Chuckle

Foggy

Static Vs. Dynamic

There are many facets to writing characters in a story. I like to make mine as layered and real as possible and use charts and lists to ensure I know who they are from their quirks right up to major character flaws that define them.

A dynamic character is one that changes over time. They start off one way then learn and grow as the story or stories progress. Sometimes this happens by design and sometimes it happens out of creative circumstance. This doesn’t always mean for the better. A character can rise up from the ashes or descend blindly to the depths of hell. There is a caution here, having a character spontaneously change is frustrating and weird. There must be foreshadowing, cause and effect put into play. If Scott went crazy for no reason and just snapped it would be weird for the reader. Unless I’m going for shock value. Even then I would have foreshadowed it a little.

On the flip side of a dynamic character are static ones. The static character remains steady. They don’t grow and develop or crash and burn. They simply are there and stay that way.  Most often a static character is on the side or comes around infrequently. I’ve noticed the “advice givers” or wisest of characters are often static. they don’t have a journey to make they’ve already been there and done that.

Examples of typical stationary characters:
Boss’s
Parents/relatives
Best friends with no strife in their life
Teachers
Co-workers not tied to the story
The guy selling hot-dogs on the corner
The advice giving barista
Doctors and or nurses
The doorman/server/maid/concierge

Basically, anyone in a dynamic character’s life that are not directly a part of it. There have been times when a static character is pulled into the story and becomes dynamic, but I choose them carefully and try to replace them with another static character.  I’ve also had characters that are constantly around the most dynamic and still stay the same. Not everyone needs to grow and evolve or fail and de-evolve.

A static or background character runs the danger of becoming inert. They can easily have an impact on the story, good or bad. They can easily help the dynamic’s of the story move along their path. A static character isn’t a one-off appearance. They are there more than once, often a support system of sorts. They should not always be dull or invisible. I call this the cardboard cutout character. The one that is there but not.  The easiest way to give them some color is to give them humor or make them the ‘middle-man’.

Confusing growth with change is easy to do. Circumstances can change for a static character, they can react/act within that change and still remain static.  Dale is a character that hasn’t grown, rather his circumstances have changed and he adapts within his set parameters that I created. He is still the same and hasn’t become more or less of a hero, nor has he become or more or less of a villain. Scott has changed for the bad. He is slipping into an old dark shoe that has nothing to do with this story but affects his personality. This is known as back-story. His change was foreshadowed with actions, expression, and words.

My advice about Static vs. Dynamic characters
We spend a lot of time focused on the Dynamic characters. I think it’s important to give Static one’s depth too. Give them a history, purpose, range of emotion and response. They don’t need to learn, but they shouldn’t be cardboard cut-outs either.

-Sheryl

Character related Posts

I don’t know how to do that.

Becoming Bad

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Blindly

An Alluring Alliteration

I love dialogue. That’s no secret. I enjoy trying to give each character a style or quirk to their speaking that sets them apart. Whether it’s a slang word only they use, or they don’t ever contract words, or they have a habit of ending sentences in questions or have to always have the last word. Not all quirks are obvious and for me that means I was successful.

However there is one thing I do with dialogue that is fun and very noticeable. I only do this with one character or unless they are being silly on purpose. Alliteration.

Alliteration is a style device that is the use of a repeated sound, consonant sound or first letter(With same sound) in a series of words in a row.

An example that comes to mind is Mr. Popper’s Penguins(the movie). The outlier character Pippi has a particular penchant for picking P letter words. ie: “Punctuality is a particular priority for this prospect,”  She does this throughout the movie. For this character it’s almost like a behavior issue or verbal OCD. I don’t recall if it’s addressed in the movie or not or if she just babbles P words constantly.  That is an extreme example exemplifying my point.

I have a character that when flustered or angry she alliterates. I usually make it silly and because it’s so contrary to her character’s normal behavior/personality the others point it out.

There are three types of alliteration, the first is just called alliteration

Paul petted Polly’s pet poodle Pom-Pom.
Tom tutted tiredly.
Karl cleaned candy off the cushions.

The second is Consonance alliteration. This is a style identified by the repetition of similar or identical consonants in neighbouring words. Their vowel sounds are often different.

Consonance words in pairs:

Blank and think
Welled and scald
hear and beer
Hipster and hatter
Hog and frog

In rhyming:

Would Cail pull. the tail of the bull?
Callie held the rally in the alley.
The hook of the book makes it worth a look.
Writing fighting is enlightening.

The third sub form of alliteration is symmetrical. The phrase or sentence will have even number words that parallel. Like half way through the letter beginning each word mirror the first half.  I think the best way to show this… is to show it. It’s most often found in poetry, rhymes and music.

Soggy carrot cake sucks
Some people walking will pace steadily.
Pretty red apples make many amazing round pies.

I’m not likely to use Symmetrical on purpose in my writing but I do find myself using consonance from time to time as I like to rhyme.

My advice about Alliteration.
Symmetrical is ingeniously suburb. When you prime and rhyme in time with a blurb. Picking particular parts perfectly like perturb.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Phony-baloney disguised

Hahaha oops.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Outlier

Anthropomorphize That!

Anthropomorphism. A mouthful of a word. It is the act of applying or imposing human form, behavior or emotions onto an animal or inanimate object.

In science the behavioral study of animals is strictly reduced to action and not attribution of emotion or feelings are permitted.

“The chickadee flew from branch to branch.”
or
“The male chickadee moved to the right of the female chickadee and touched sides.”

As writers we easily add emotion to animals etc. Because it’s what we do naturally.

“The chickadee flew excitedly from branch to branch.”
or
“The male chickadee snuggled up to the female lovingly.”

This tool is often found/used in children’s stories, science fiction, space operas etc. Stories like Lord of the rings or Winnie the Pooh. Where animals are given the ability to talk, walk, behave like the human champions we want them to be.

Examples of physical Anthropomorphism

The man in the moon
Cats, dogs, cows etc. that walk on two legs or use paws/hooves etc like hands.
Changing the face of an animal to be more human.
Giving appliances or plants faces. (Brave little toaster, Alice in wonderland, Beauty and the Beast)

Examples of Emotional Anthropomorphism

Suggesting expressions of any emotion from an animal or object. “The cat looked up at me with love.” or “The dog’s big eyes looked sad.”
The cat sat impatiently waiting for it’s dinner
The snake watched wearily as I approached. It looked angry and ready to strike.

Examples of Behavioral Anthropomorphism.

Any animal, insect or object that speaks a human language.
Having an animal pick up an object such as a fork or use a pencil.
Have an animal Drive car or spend money
Implying human behavior in animals: The bird looked thoughtfully at the cage door.
Having a flying broom do something funny that would require a sense of humor or thought.

Anthropomorphism is the reason we teach animals tricks. The added belief they are more like us makes us as humans happy. It is also why we fear things that are less like us. Things with more legs or eyes like insects and spiders. Things with fewer legs like snakes and sharks. Anything that we can’t associate a physical similarity to or a behavioral similarity. There will always be exceptions to this as with anything. However in general humans like human-like things.

I don’t have any animals in my stories as of yet nor objects that I apply human characteristics to. I have however read many that do. Whether it’s on purpose or by accident. From childrens stories right up to stories for adults.

This isn’t to say that you should or should not anthropomorphize animals or objects, just to be aware when you do it. If its purposeful like a giant talking spider or a car that flies and has attitude or a tree that doesn’t like trespassers, then by all means make it a character and more humanized.  However saying “The cellphone rang happily” instead of “The cellphone rang a happy tune”, makes a bit of difference to a more serious story.

My advice about Anthropomorphism. 
Unless you’re going for it specifically; be careful the sentence doesn’t become silly.  

-Sheryl

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