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Old 10-13-2011, 12:55 PM   #16
Nancy Fulda
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Originally Posted by TonyR View Post
If what you're writing is a comic book (or maybe I should say "graphic novel") then some variation on "Aiieee!" will probably do. But if you're writing a story or a novel, you'd probably be better off not trying to spell out a scream but using narrative instead to say the character screamed. Could be my imagination's just limited these days, but I can't think of a way to spell it out that doesn't have that comic balloon feel and that's probably not what you want for prose fiction.
That's about the way I feel about it, too.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:19 PM   #17
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I'm also part of the describe the scream in narrative club.

There's something that feels almost undignified about aiiiiieeee! Yarghhhh! or whatever variant you use.
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Old 10-14-2011, 10:10 AM   #18
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THanks everyone! I really appreciate it! - I loved each response, I'll have to mix them all up, take into account the context and fine tune it!
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Old 10-14-2011, 11:55 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Keryl Raist View Post
I'm also part of the describe the scream in narrative club.

There's something that feels almost undignified about aiiiiieeee! Yarghhhh! or whatever variant you use.
Are not screams, by their primal nature, inherantly undignified expressions of shock or terror?

Is it a worthy goal to sanitise something raw and heartfelt in all forms of telling a story?

I can see simply using description if you are narating in a third person perspective, or if a character is recalling a past event. That is the proper continuity of style.
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Old 10-14-2011, 03:19 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phogg View Post
Are not screams, by their primal nature, inherantly undignified expressions of shock or terror?

Is it a worthy goal to sanitise something raw and heartfelt in all forms of telling a story?

I can see simply using description if you are narating in a third person perspective, or if a character is recalling a past event. That is the proper continuity of style.
I'd say no, that a scream, in an appropriate setting, is not undignified. It's not expressing raw emotion that is undignified; it's doing it in a way that doesn't sound right for the moment. If you do not attempt onomatopoeia, you can't get the sound wrong.

If the bad guy is bearing down on the main character with a machete and a thousand zombies, screaming is entirely appropriate.

But, say my mental idea of the hero's scream and the sound the author supplies are vastly at odds with each other. She writes one thing, and to her it sounds like a manly expression of terrified frustration. To me it sounds like a little girl shrieking at a spider. Now I've got an image/sound disconnect in my head, and the resultant response is no longer appropriate to the situation, and thus undignified.

If you will, imagine Indianna Jones running away from the horde of Zombies, he's just about free when he notices the gaping chasm in front of him. He stops and lets out a yell of frustration. Say Harrison Ford then goes, "Eeek!" Now, having done that, we're all laughing our asses off in the theater because that's not the sound that works.

So, as a writer I'd say, skip the sound of screaming, and just tell me he screamed, add as many adjectives as you like, but don't try to spell it out. The chances of having it bite you are just too high.
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