Fixing the grinning bobblehead character - Page 3


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Thread: Fixing the grinning bobblehead character

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    Yeah, it's one of those nice little oxymorons.

    So, let's break down what we're establishing here because this is after-all the hints and tips section:

    1 - If possible construct scenes in a way that denotes happiness, therefore a smile, to avoid having to use 'smiled' too often.
    2 - In moments when that happiness dissipates, there is cause to consider the 'quick fix' of a 'grin' or a 'smile'.
    3 - Overuse leads to sloppy writing and removes the need to set up the scene in a more natural way
    4 - Whilst 'smile'.'grin' can often be considered 'tags', just like 'said' ways of avoiding it should be considered when possible.
    5 - Obsessively considering 'tags' that are essentially invisible words can lead to overthinking, so try to be objective in all cases.

    Any others?
    I think it boils down to "Don't avoid a tool because others overuse it or misuse it, just don't overuse it or misuse it yourself."

    As I type that bit of advice, I still NEVER want to encounter the word "amazing" again.

    For your #1:
    First, "smile" is really just a placeholder in this conversation, because that's the example Foxee made light of ... it could be any expression. I don't think there is any reason to avoid it IF it is a part of a whole, and fits, rather than BEING the whole.
    #2: I need more of what you're getting at.
    #3: I'd paraphrase as "An expression can devolve into telling, when it should most often be used as showing."
    #4: Yes--expressly on the subject of dialogue tags.
    #5: Yes. To continue the thought: All writing in fiction should seem natural to the reader. We shouldn't have "invisible words", also referred to as "filler words". We want color. Expressions add color when judiciously included.

    Before long, you and I should condense all this and collaborate on a blog.

    BTW, this discussion is giving me WAY too much reason to deflect from what I'm supposed to be doing tonight. I'm in Chapter 20, closing in on 100K words, and I have to decide if bringing up the climax and ending the novel here is too precipitous. It's definitely there to do if I decide to. I've already used up my "port sipping" allotment for the evening, and I just had to switch over to my "fake port" substitute of grape juice with a splash of vodka and coffee liquor. (If you get it just right, that combination tastes surprisingly like Cockburn's Special Reserve with less alcohol and expense. LOL)

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    I think it boils down to "Don't avoid a tool because others overuse it or misuse it, just don't overuse it or misuse it yourself."

    As I type that bit of advice, I still NEVER want to encounter the word "amazing" again.

    For your #1:
    First, "smile" is really just a placeholder in this conversation, because that's the example Foxee made light of ... it could be any expression. I don't think there is any reason to avoid it IF it is a part of a whole, and fits, rather than BEING the whole.
    #2: I need more of what you're getting at.
    #3: I'd paraphrase as "An expression can devolve into telling, when it should most often be used as showing."
    #4: Yes--expressly on the subject of dialogue tags.
    #5: Yes. To continue the thought: All writing in fiction should seem natural to the reader. We shouldn't have "invisible words", also referred to as "filler words". We want color. Expressions add color when judiciously included.

    Before long, you and I should condense all this and collaborate on a blog.

    BTW, this discussion is giving me WAY too much reason to deflect from what I'm supposed to be doing tonight. I'm in Chapter 20, closing in on 100K words, and I have to decide if bringing up the climax and ending the novel here is too precipitous. It's definitely there to do if I decide to. I've already used up my "port sipping" allotment for the evening, and I just had to switch over to my "fake port" allotment of grape juice with a splash of vodka and coffee liquor. (If you get it just right, that combination tastes amazing like Cockburn's Special Reserve with less alcohol and expense. LOL)
    I'm sipping tea, like the pleb I am, you elitist!

    By 2, I just meant: If you've got a scene in which smiling is obviously going on, as with my scene above, but then there's a natural break somewhere, like Tommy looking through the window (back to mother), then adding 'smiled' is perfectly fine.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    I'm sipping tea, like the pleb I am, you elitist!
    It's your morning, my late night. You'd better be sipping tea! LOL

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    It's your morning, my late night. You'd better be sipping tea! LOL
    Now you're offering critiques on my drinking habits! Becoming a moderator has changed you.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  5. #25
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    Surely 'smiling' is a part of that same disease as writing 'she stood on my left, she moved to my right, I put the cigarette into my mouth, my hand reached down to my pocket, then I lit my cigarette, when I exhaled clouds of delicious zzzzzzzzzzzz...

    Also 'I breathed' which is a personal favourite. A micro-management that does not allow the reader to relax into scene, into their scene, & not your scene any longer. It's boring. Or early draft stuff for the one set of eyes only. We have to cover our eyes and press delete.

    Oh yes, 'eyes.'

    Yaffle(prof)

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Matchu View Post
    Surely 'smiling' is a part of that same disease as writing 'she stood on my left, she moved to my right, I put the cigarette into my mouth, my hand reached down to my pocket, then I lit my cigarette, when I exhaled clouds of delicious zzzzzzzzzzzz...

    Also 'I breathed' which is a personal favourite. A micro-management that does not allow the reader to relax into scene, into their scene, & not your scene any longer. It's boring. Or early draft stuff for the one set of eyes only. We have to cover our eyes and press delete.

    Oh yes, 'eyes.'

    Yaffle(prof)
    I don't think it's as clear cut as that. It's a matter of asking yourself: Is there any other way of showing she/he would be smiling? Is it necessary at this particular point to directly describe he/she smiled? It's not a yay/nay, it's a sometimes. It's up to the writer to use it judiciously.

    Sometimes people critique for the sake of it and not out of necessity. I think this is one such situation. Having it pointed out puts it uppermost in your mind so of course those 'smiles' and 'grins' are going to stand out. For a clear answer on the question, it's important to imagine it hadn't been pointed out and meet the problem objectively.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  7. #27
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    Oh, I thought I had solved everything. Bitter disappointment drips on my carpet [literary].

  8. #28
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    My Novel
    So you see, so, so, pay attention to this guy, he walks into the room, he shuffles, and he's just come through a door, y'know? See the door, anyway move from the door to his face, a long scar. He hasn't shaved this morning, but there is no fluff on the scar. Back to the door, it's green, and a woman sat across this room is smiling. She's got a big, big smile. I know what that means. Slow down, slow down. She's so lovely but actually a killer, oh so beautiful. He makes a terrible mistake and he smiles also. 'Are you taking the piss!' she says.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Matchu View Post
    Oh, I thought I had solved everything. Bitter disappointment drips on my carpet [literary].
    Well you thought wrong, good sir!
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  10. #30
    I ran some stats on "smiles in writing" this morning, and originally was going to include them in this post. However, I didn't want it to get lost in the mists of downward drifting threads, so I blogged it instead:

    https://www.writingforums.com/entrie...-is-your-story

    The gist is that successful authors have characters smiling, sometimes a LOT. To answer my question at the top of the thread, my smiles per thousand words IS in the Goldilocks zone.

    WHEW!

    So: Sorry, no smile guys. The inclusion of smiles in no way signifies a bad writing habit ... unless you get up to something like two smiles per thousand words ... then the Smile Police MUST visit you!

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