How do you describe laughing in a novel? - Page 2


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Thread: How do you describe laughing in a novel?

  1. #11
    Show, don’t tell, in my opinion, is the most important advice you can give to an aspiring writer, apart from ‘write what you know’.

    Of course that is only my opinion.

    I laughed when someone said that to me many years ago. I laughed when I read it in lots of books. I stopped laughing when the rejection letters flowed in.

    I laughed again when I finally hit the jackpot, a small one.

    How do you describe laughing? It needs a bit more effort than just saying; he laughed.

  2. #12
    I agree, Harry. Not saying that I don't. But you don't need to show everything. In fact, a novel full of showing would be very long.

    And, writing what you don't know can actually be as much fun as writing about what you do. It requires research, of course, but what novel doesn't?
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  3. #13
    Patron valeca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarryG View Post

    How do you describe laughing? It needs a bit more effort than just saying; he laughed.
    Depends on the prose, the author, and the style. Sometimes simply using 'he laughed' fits better than a long-winded and/or unnecessary description of the act.
    The plot thickens...but only if you stir it constantly over a low heat. ~valeca on Twitter

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  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by valeca View Post
    Depends on the prose, the author, and the style. Sometimes simply using 'he laughed' fits better than a long-winded and/or unnecessary description of the act.
    I agree and I agree with Sam too, but I was describing an extreme example to make a point, perhaps having misunderstood the OP’s question.

  5. #15
    Different laughs? As in if somebody is chuckling or giggling? a bark of laughter, a roar. I tend to rotate between different words for different characters.
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  6. #16
    Honoured/Sadly Missed The Backward OX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Winchester View Post
    writing what you don't know can actually be as much fun as writing about what you do. It requires research, of course, but what novel doesn't?
    I think this was where I came in.

    Woul you agree that by the time the research was done you might just have learnt something about the topic? So it then becomes "writing what you know"?


    Geez, Sam, you worry me at times.
    Last edited by The Backward OX; November 13th, 2008 at 09:44 AM.

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by The Backward OX View Post
    I think this was where I came in.

    Woul you agree that by the time the research was done you might just have learnt something about the topic? So it then becomes "writing what you know"?


    Geez, Sam, you worry me at times.
    Not as much as you worry me by times, OX.
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  8. #18
    I will say this: My favourite author is Tom Clancy. He was originally an insurance salesman. Do you think he knew about submarines, nuclear bombs, or anything else that he has written about in great detail in most of his novels? No, he didn't. He had to ask people; he had to do research. Does that mean that he now knows how to write about nuclear bombs or submarines? No, it doesn't. It just means that he did research, like all authors do. So, OX, doing research on a subject doesn't necessarily make you an authority on it, nor does it make you able to write about that subject in a "knowledgeable" way.
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  9. #19
    Writing what you know is often misinterpreted as having to write only about something you have personal and detailed knowledge of, which it isn’t, most of the time. As well as the Clancy example, a good one, there is the other oft-quoted one - Sydney Sheldon has only ever written about places he has actually been to.

    But, can you write about crying, if you’ve never cried? Can you write about laughing if you don’t laugh? Can you write about the hurtfulness of infidelity if you’ve never been exposed to it? Can you write about love if you’ve never been in love?

    Can you research something like love? Will reading a few thousand pages on the internet be enough?

    I was startled with a question about the holocaust only yesterday, the question being on the lines of – should it still be written about, as much as it is? I answered Yes, very quickly, and then had to justify my answer to an extremely critical audience. I stumbled around a bit and thought about my own advice about writing what you know, and, of course, my knowledge of the holocaust is from outside sources. And I wouldn’t attempt to write about it, I don’t know enough.

  10. #20
    Dr. Malone
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    Wasn't Clancy in the Navy?

    Good thread. The only thing I'll add, since you'll have to find what's good and what's not from these suggestions yourself, is to avoid the cliched expressions that some posters here are using as examples.

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