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Old 10-13-2011, 12:55 PM   #16
Nancy Fulda
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Quote:
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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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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Old 12-09-2018, 01:43 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyR View Post
Hi there.

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.

My two cents, for what it's worth.
You see, I'm writing a novel. (More for practice that anything, really. I probably won't publish it because I don't like to be in the spotlight- I'm too shy for that...) I plan on making a comic version, anime/animated version/cartoon/show, movie, video game, text adventure, music, play, dances, and all kinds of things based off of my novel. Again, they won't be published, as they are only practice and I'm a newbie writer. So I came here and after reading some of these, I just thought "Oh, hey! This is actually helpful! That's great, because I was getting REALLY freaking tired of Googling this stuff..." Anyway, this helped and I just figured I should let you know. : pleased::gr in2::thu mbsup: Sorry about the unnecessary amount of smilies. I'm new here and couldn't resist using so many of them- !
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Old 12-12-2018, 06:00 PM   #22
Hitch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keryl Raist View Post
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.

<snippage>

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.
I'm with you on this. Comics, great, scream-dialogue is well-suited, but I don't like it spelt out in a novel, for the myriad stated reasons. What "sounds" right to one person's ear simply shan't to the next in line. In this instance, that next-in-line is the all-important reader.

I'm not overly wild about dialect in dialogue, either. (I know, nobody asked, but it's a similar topic.) I mean, it's like the woefully overused "och, aye, lassie!," which is pretty much guaranteed to make me run like hell from a book. Or "Southern," which, depending upon the writer, and how s/he feels about the area/character in question, ranges from genteel to moron-sounding. (You can tell a lot about how someone feels about that character or area of the country by the characterization of the dialect--just watch TV sometime, to see how writers view Texans, for example...)

I find that I personally respond much better if the narrator "hears" the dialect and describes it for me, in his/her first encounter with the speaker or area (even if it's spelled out phonetically, for the "hearer" initially) and then the author allows me to hear it in my head, from her writing, from that point forward. I get grossly overtired of dialogue in dialect carried out through a book. It's a difficult thing for a writer to do well, and it's pitifully easy for them to do badly. It seems like almost every time I stumble across it (typically in a novel I've already started, unfortunately), it's in the latter category, not the first. When my teeth start grinding, each time character X appears...well, that thar ain't good, as they say.

I'm not opposed to the occasional expletive or "och!" or whatever, but really, we're smart readers. We don't need it hammered into our heads, over and over and over.

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Old 12-13-2018, 03:15 AM   #23
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Well, I wasn't sure we really really wanted to resurrect a 7-year-old thread, but if that's what we're doing...

Dialogue is hard to do right. Authors should not attempt to write exactly how people speak, they must write how it seems that people speak.

Exclamations and dialect take an already difficult problem and make it even harder. Like a lot of writing it's more art than science. You want just enough hints that a reader will understand what you mean and do the work for you. Too many hints and you will be annoying, too few and everyone will sound like the same person in your readers' heads. You want that Goldilocks point where everything is just right, and for that you have to rely on your own ear and help from your editor and beta-readers. Luck, practice and talent (order is variable).
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:04 AM   #24
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Well, I wasn't sure we really really wanted to resurrect a 7-year-old thread, but if that's what we're doing...
{shrug} seemed rude not to reply...y'know.

Quote:
Dialogue is hard to do right. Authors should not attempt to write exactly how people speak, they must write how it seems that people speak.
Amen, brother.

Quote:
Exclamations and dialect take an already difficult problem and make it even harder. Like a lot of writing it's more art than science. You want just enough hints that a reader will understand what you mean and do the work for you. Too many hints and you will be annoying, too few and everyone will sound like the same person in your readers' heads. You want that Goldilocks point where everything is just right, and for that you have to rely on your own ear and help from your editor and beta-readers. Luck, practice and talent (order is variable).
Yes, and it's also true that really talented writers can get away with things that those just learning their craft can't, of course. :-)

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Old 12-13-2018, 10:50 AM   #25
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[...] Yes, and it's also true that really talented writers can get away with things that those just learning their craft can't, of course. :-)

Hitch
There are two ways to interpret that, and I suspect that both are true.

Sometimes a writer has the talent or experience to make something work where a lesser talent (or lesser experience) would fail.

But I think it is sometimes quite literally true that they "get away with it". No book is perfect; some excellent books have glaring errors but readers forgive them (or don't even notice) because the rest is so good. Once you have an enthusiastic audience, and if you don't abuse them, they will come to your new work with a positive frame of mind that gives you such a head start over facing a sceptical newcomer.
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Old 12-16-2018, 03:13 AM   #26
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Along with dialogue there is dialect. I borrowed a copy of the stories of Brer Rabbit by Joel C. Harris from the library once and found it almost unreadable. A little dialect may not have been a problem but it was so thick that I couldn't read a single sentence through and understand what the characters were talking about. It may have been different at the time Mr. Harris wrote the book, I don't know, but for me it made it impossible to really enter the world of the story.
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Old 12-17-2018, 01:19 AM   #27
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I find that I personally respond much better if the narrator "hears" the dialect and describes it for me, in his/her first encounter with the speaker or area (even if it's spelled out phonetically, for the "hearer" initially) and then the author allows me to hear it in my head, from her writing, from that point forward. I get grossly overtired of dialogue in dialect carried out through a book. It's a difficult thing for a writer to do well, and it's pitifully easy for them to do badly. It seems like almost every time I stumble across it (typically in a novel I've already started, unfortunately), it's in the latter category, not the first. When my teeth start grinding, each time character X appears...well, that thar ain't good, as they say.

I'm not opposed to the occasional expletive or "och!" or whatever, but really, we're smart readers. We don't need it hammered into our heads, over and over and over.

Hitch
As a reader, I have thought this many times! After the introduction of a character, an occasional word of local dialect is enough of a reminder. The same goes for slang and expletives. A little goes a long way.
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Old 12-17-2018, 04:47 AM   #28
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I'd have to agree with Steven Lyle Jordan's reply. An active description is often best, but sometimes a bit more detail can set the tone better.
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:21 PM   #29
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I prefer describing a scream rather than spelling it out, but there are times writing out the sound works well.

Some of my favs:

Wah!
Eek!
Youch!

All caps also conveys a raised voice. For example:

DUCK!
RUN!
WHAT?
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:43 PM   #30
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I don't think it can be spelled since its not a word so you may have to describe it instead of spelling it
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