Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wham! Bam! Pow!


Questions Three - in three parts.

Do you (1) use with calculated abandon ( ie. in moderation, naturally), (2) are irritated by, or (3) know if the gods of industry dislike any of the following?

(a) Vocalizations:
Often with ellipses, such as ...um...er...ah...aw...?
To space the dialogue and indicate hesitation, confusion, suprise, to avoid a dialogue tag or other explanation?

(b) Interjections:
Including frequent expletives and related expressions such as, Holy High Jump, Batman, look at that cow!
OK, that was just for fun.
I mean things like well, gosh, dammit, WTF, goodness, that adhere to various real-time conversations but may prompt an editor to reach for bell, book and candle to exorcize them as excessive, unnecessary and distracting demons.
Mimic-al or inimical?
Well, shit, I was afraid you'd say that...

(c) Onomatopeia:
Sound effects such as thrum, thwack, thump?
Suitably italicized, of course.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr., uses this device frequently, I've noticed, for horses, single sticks, phasers and in-coming.
Certainly is economical.

Some may consider these insertions a dillution of fine prose.
May call them a comic book technique that has crept like the canine into the crypt of exposition and crapped and crept away.

I like them. I use them.
My sins will find me out.

NOTE: Since this post is about language: uses of, it's a good time to repeat something I mentioned in earlier comments.
Bhaswati has a book coming out Making Out in America, which will entrance anyone interested in our devious language - which is most of us.

24 comments:

kmfrontain said...

I use them all, but not the last very much, and not with italics.

kmfrontain said...

And she adds, "Why would they be sins?"

The last, to me, would be the most likely sin, if the entire manuscript was littered with "Thrum! Up went the strident notes of the violin!"

Dennie McDonald said...

er, ah... um, yep! b and c not so much but if/when needed

Carla said...

I don't know what the gods of the idustry think, though I suspect that like the Greek gods they are rarely in agreement :-)

I use (a) to indicate something like hesitation, embarrassment or lying. Used sparingly I think it can be very effective, especially if the character is normally articulate. It only irritates me if it occurs in every sentence. (b) varies by character but I usually only use them when the character has a genuine reason to be shocked or startled, otherwise the effect is lost. I find as a reader I tune them out if they occur a lot and stop seeing them. I don't think I use (c) very much, though it doesn't annoy me unless it's peppered over every page like a Batman comic.

Bernita said...

Only sins to the anal, I suspect, KM.
Thank you, KM, Dennie, Carla.
Excess is to be avoided -else the effect is either lost or becomes annoying.

Ric said...

a - because it's the way most people (Bernita excepted) speak and dialogue is supposed to be as accurate as possible.
b - for the same reasons
c - I find annoying, just because if the action is common - i.e. horse walking by on cobblestones - I don't need to be told what it sounds like - clop, clop, clop
I'm okay with 'the horse clopped by' but certainly don't need 'The horse walked by - clop, clop, clop to the top of the hill.

Bernita said...

Ha!The rolling period, Ric, is seldom my style.
~ pity you can't see my hands~
An excellent example of when NOT to use it.
Save it for extraordinary, not casual, scenes?
In spite of my approval of judicious use in works I've read, I think I only used it(c) once myself - when the arrow buries itself in front of Damie's nose.

jason evans said...

My opinion (with no industry credentials): #2 definitely, #1 very sparingly, and #3 almost never.

Bernita said...

# 3 is superfluous for you, Jason.
You include it in your verbs very cleverly.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Uh...er...yea, vocalizations and elipsis are my favorites...even in my regular speech!

But I don't do much with the rest!

Bhaswati said...

Gosh! (See, I use them, :P) So funny you mentioned the book, Bernita. As I read through the post, I was just going to mention how I did make use of interjections in my book. I didn't go overboard, but the book is sprinkled with a few of these, only because they came up naturally.

In the book, I switch to the second person (the book is otherwise written in the first person) from time to time and assume a conversation with the readers. My crit partners often remarked that while reading the chapters they felt as if I was chatting with them. I hope that is a good sign. :P

Bernita said...

I have become enamoured with the use thereof, Bonnie. Must be your influence.

I'm sure it's a very good thing, Bhaswati.I felt that reading the excerpts and liked it very much.

H.S. Kinn said...

I don't use any of them much, but I can't say that I consider them sins either. Vocalizations are probably used the least--I can't recall putting any in Immortal Reveries, for example, but shorter stories that were in a bit more modern setting, probably. Ditto for interjections. If I am guilty of any of them it's probably onomatopeia, and that's a carryover from the years when all I wrote was poetry. I'll add that I think it's the most "forgivable," but I am biased toward prose that sounds pretty.

Bernita said...

I find I'm excessively and fatuously fond of alliteration - which also comes from writing poetry.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oh drat! I use them too! Holy rusted metal, Batman, complete with Whap! Bang! Zowie! sound effects!

I'm a hack...

Oh, wait. Tess Gerritsen says being a hack is a good thing. I like being a hack. Wish I were a slightly better paid hack, though... :-)

Bernita said...

Don't we all wish,SW.

I think the world is ready for a little less-corseted writing.

Mark Pettus said...

The ellipsis is like heroin - I have to be careful, lest the addiction overtake me again...

Onomatapeia - I love, but a little goes a long way.

Bernita said...

I know what you mean, Mark... had to excise a quantity of it from my WIP...because I found I was sticking it into almost every conversation.
Erp!
Dashes are another thingy I have developed an enthusiasm for - and have to watch.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

First of all, Bernita, I thought I could count on you. If you truly cared about my writing welfare you would NOT have posted yet another attention-grabbing blog today--especially with those damnably clever little sketches of yours! Have you no compassion whatsoever, woman?

*sigh*

Okay…so in answer to your query, I am a writing sinner of the highest order. Oh yes, I do it all. Everything you mentioned in your post and more. And I love every minute of it. ;-)

I’d better not see any other compelling posts here this week, you hear? You know what will happen! :-0

(And forget it--no ginzu knives for you, Bernita!)

Bernita said...

Darling Daisy, I am not fit - definitely not fit - to kiss the hem of your garments.

kathie said...

I all of them, though not much, any of them. If a character would say "goodness" every time her toast burns or she stubs her toe, then use it, I say. I'm going to blog roll you if you don't mind...

Bernita said...

Ha.
Another one for my dark side of ellipsis and sound effects.

Yeppers, an exclamation can be classified under useful character quirk.
~must check and see if I have John saying "bloody hell" too often ~

Can't return the favour immediately, Kathie ( me idiot-tech), but will put you on my favorites and read you every day until then.
But very pleased to be on your blogroll. Thank you.

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