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Manic Voice (2 Viewers)

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I'm just blowing off the ink on a MS here. Here's a passage (obviously, the whole story isn't written like this):

How her mind and body rushed! 'Am I dead?' –Whatever the case, she had never felt more manic. –Minutes later, the jailor’s heart stopped—Laura tried a dozen of his keys on her shackles, unlocking and slipping free of her chains at last. —But to what end? –Someone must have heard, and she had yet to escape the dungeon—Laura took the truncheon and keys—she unlocked the dungeon door—her attention shifted to the defensive slits—with a little stolen powder, she surmised, one might widen the gap and crawl through it—‘crawl to freedom! There! There is the patrol . . . or whatever they are.’

The character is in a state of supernatural mania. I want to know if this works at all or if I'm totally missing the mark. The dashes are supposed to control the beats in a certain way.

Thanks in advance. Of course, anyone else in welcome to share examples of manic text.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I'm not sure emdashes fit the job. Full stops are probably the better option if you accept fragments, semicolons if you don't. I'd sooner go with fragments than use semicolons though.

How her mind and body rushed!'Am I dead?' Whatever the case, she had never felt more manic. Minutes later, the jailor’s heart stopped. Laura tried a dozen of his keys on her shackles, unlocked and slipped free of her chains. But to what end? Someone must have heard. Laura took the truncheon and keys. She unlocked the dungeon door. Her attention shifted to the defensive slits. With a little stolen powder, she surmised, one might widen the gap and crawl through. ‘crawl to freedom! There! There is the patrol . . . or whatever they are.’
 
By a "manic voice" do you mean she's having a clinical manic episode? The given text, to me, doesn't read that way. With the exception of the dashes, I feel the passage is pretty straightforward voice, just urgent and somewhat frantic.

I also feel that saying she "had never felt more manic" doesn't read as mania, since someone who is experiencing mania is probably not thinking of their feelings in that way. IMO. Idk, because I've never had a manic episode, but I know when I'm in the midst of an intense mental or emotional experience, I'm unlikely to step back and think, "I am experiencing ____," UNLESS I am actively doing that as a way to manage the issue. If I'm in the midst of a panic attack, stepping back and thinking "I'm panicking" reduces the actual feelings of panic.

----

ETA: I've done some writing with characters in intense/unusual mental states. I tend to break grammar a bit when I'm doing that. Some examples from WIP --


Character melting/breaking down (I'd give the lead-up but that would take too much space. Suffice to say she is extremely angry with a group of men and the one person she thought would behave differently is essentially going along with them):

He is red in the face. I am bad with social cues but not that bad. I can interprHOW DARE YOU HOW DARE YOU (oh dear I am already saying) YOU TAKE THAT BLANKING CROSS OFF THIS VERY BLANKING MOMENT YOU BLANKING HYPOCRITE (I hope I do not accidentally swear for real) AND I AM TRYING VERY HARD NOT TO ATTACK YOU NOW OKAY? I AM TRYING VERY HARD (I have lost track of the movement of my arms; am I on the ground?) BUT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? DONT YOU BLANKING UNDERSTAND ITS THE DEVIL ITS THE DEVIL ITS DEVIL——

(I somehow figure out how to run away crying like a normal person) Crying crying crying because I forgot how every man a liar like it says in the Bible. Every man a liar. I hate men. Oh no I am not supposed to hate. How to stop. How to stop running and hating. How can I even trust crust punk with pants. How can I even trust Larry. Is God the only man who loves me. Are all men dead like my Dad man who drowned in Mississippi through no fault of his own.



Character slipping in and out of sleep, while very overwhelmed:

I don’t have anybody, I say all sleepy. Except Larry and Breezy and Momo and Jesus. But you would call them homeless, you see. Even though they’re not. Except I think Jesus is really homeless. (I don’t say that last part because I am very tired. The coffee has run out, and crying is even more tiring than homework and running: I feel the pickup moving us through the city, and I know the sky above us is black and there are a few stars, like Orion’s belt, and perhaps a moon, and I think that God has made these for our pleasure, for our pleasure, for our pleasure, and it it is a shame, a shame, a shame, to waste these pleasures on the sins of the Devil; I believe that I am sleeping now; I am dreaming that the moon has come to speak with me about the things I have lost. I am sorry, I say. I did not mean to lose my glasses. I did not mean to lose the trumpet-man’s number who I promised to invite to church. I am always losing things, you see, and Jesus does not need to forgive me for this because it is not a sin. It is not a sin to lose. It is only a mistake. I have made many mistakes and I am very tired.
 
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bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I'm just blowing off the ink on a MS here. Here's a passage (obviously, the whole story isn't written like this):

How her mind and body rushed! 'Am I dead?' –Whatever the case, she had never felt more manic. –Minutes later, the jailor’s heart stopped—Laura tried a dozen of his keys on her shackles, unlocking and slipping free of her chains at last. —But to what end? –Someone must have heard, and she had yet to escape the dungeon—Laura took the truncheon and keys—she unlocked the dungeon door—her attention shifted to the defensive slits—with a little stolen powder, she surmised, one might widen the gap and crawl through it—‘crawl to freedom! There! There is the patrol . . . or whatever they are.’

The character is in a state of supernatural mania. I want to know if this works at all or if I'm totally missing the mark. The dashes are supposed to control the beats in a certain way.

Thanks in advance. Of course, anyone else in welcome to share examples of manic text.

It almost works, for me. I would just consider removing some of the more filler-y text, like "whatever the case" and "minutes later" and possibly even dispensing with the caps and full stops and just going with the m-dashes. But yeah, play last and loose with SPaG.

My own example, you say? Don't mind if I do ;) It's a little different of a scenario from yours though...



The last thing she saw as she fell head over heels from the bottom of the wrecked craft was Hammerstyle's features,
frozen in fear as he scrambled back through the remnants
of the Conjure, and Sir Gaunt, approaching the dragon’s
throat, touching his flame to the cord of white fire –



– and I dreamt I was flying through the air … how I got there I can’t say but it was warm sun really really clear blue skies green fields below … there were chores I needed to do pressing tasks but you know how it is you’re relaxed having a nice time you can’t be bothered with any of that … but some things were out of place, the way they can be in dreams … the sheep, for example – the sheep in the fields were walking in circles isn't that strange but it made me chuckle … and this feeling something had happened, not necessarily terrible but of great significance that would free or sicken us – my mind tended toward sicken … this thing this one thing left but I couldn’t find the energy for it much less remember well it must not have been important anyway back to the flying and guess what, even that was being spoiled my stupid conscience kept telling me I had discovered how but violated a moral law in the process ... the kind of thinking that has Fudge written all over it … as I spun I caught glimpses of a ribbon a ribbon of colour in the sky a rainbow covering of golden rosy light … a funny thing … stars in it an eternity of them like when I first saw the wrath no don’t think don’t think about that and oh what was it from before was there a bang … I wish I could remember … but the sun the sun through this ribbon and these horrible noises sky sounds … ok now that over there, that’s unusual, the headless body of a dragon spiralling down down into the trees a distance away no I can’t see it now – no, something’s not right, theres too much wind its too loud, I’m supposed to be on the ground, not falling through the air at speeds immeasurable whats happened? whats gone wrong? what do i have to do utter some words a prayer so my wings grow back I think that’s right because I’ll go insane if it isn’t I'll wham straight into the ground oh what a time to forget how to fly here it comes this is going to hurt I miss my brothers my father my mother and my home so much what a mess dammit –
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I agree with those above me — the example you gave sounds mostly logical and perhaps even a bit subdued.

If you want the character to come across as having a manic episode, I'd recommend some irrational thoughts, repeated words, looping logic, run-on sentences, excessive urgency . . .

It should look like bad, crazy, weird-ass writing.

The emotions in the example you gave, to me, are at about a 6 (out of 10). For a manic episode, I'd imagine the emotions to be dialed up to 11.

Something like:

She had to escape, she had had had to! There was simply no other way. But they'd find her of course, they'd find her they'd find her they'd find THEY'D FIND HER but what was she to do what what what? Maybe, maybe she could . . . or couldn't . . . or could not . . . or would not . . . or not could . . . or not would . . . or knot wood . . . knot wood . . . No, and where were her pants she'd lost her pants her pants were there but they really weren't, it was an illusion it had to be, they'd tricked her somehow, replaced her pants with these things that were pants but weren't even pants at all but she couldn't think about pants now, not when she had to escape, she had to, there was simply no other way, the wood was knotted there were knots in the wood but they'd find her somehow they'd find her they'd find her . . .

Or if you want to go full-hog, Tahereh Mafi wrote a passage in her novel, Shatter Me, where the protagonist just thinks, for a full page and a half:

I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane . . . (it goes on and on and on).
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Oh, so you meant 'manic' as in literally having 'mania'? I thought you just meant frenetic/frantic. In that case, I'd say it's more about what she says than how you punctuate it, although I'd still favour the more straightforward full stops.

Her mind and body rushed! –'Am I dead?' Whatever, she'd never felt more out of control. Breathe. Keep it together. Minutes later, the jailor fell dead. She fumbled with a dozen keys, jabbed at the lock until, at last, the shackles clattered to the stone floor. Someone must have heard her, surely? She snatched up the truncheon, keys in hand, unlocked the dungeon door and fled. Focus. Where next? Come on. Think, think. Her attention shifted to the defensive slits. With stolen powder, she might widen the gap and crawl through. ‘Crawl to freedom! There! There is the patrol . . . or whatever they are.’
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
One of my favourite books, The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut, explores this well.
 

LCLee

Senior Member
I liked the pace and the punch. I came late to the party, and I noticed some excellent critique from others so I'll just point out my two cents.

I didn't like ....Minutes later, the jailor’s heart stopped, It felt interjected without a segue, but I do want to know his heart stopped...Maybe a little action as it happened.

And But to what end? seemed to ask the question to the reader (4th wall)

I'm going to try and use your pace and punch in a short story I'm writing now....Good Job.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
I see where you are coming from. I googled the definition of mania as an emotion:

As the mania intensifies, irritability can be more pronounced and result in anxiety or violence. The symptoms of mania include elevated mood (either euphoric or irritable), flight of ideas and pressure of speech, increased energy, decreased need and desire for sleep, and hyperactivity.

I think you’ve done a good job of capturing the 'pressure of speech'. The dashes do create an element of the ‘flight of ideas' - one thought running into the other.

It’s an interesting exercise to write in manic voice. A great way to test our chops! I’ll take a crack at it, in the context of my current WIP:

What just happened? Did Ralph just offer me a job as a designer? He said, ‘think about it'...what’s to think about? Oh my god...Zac...what will Zac do without me...oh god who cares...I’ve worked my ass off for him. Jack! What will Jack think...his wife is going to be a designer...at Ralph Klein. Oh my God...he’ll love the sound of that! Madison stood frozen as images of her new collection ran through her head and she pictured Jack’s proud face looking up at her as she took her final catwalk. Then she realized the time. Keys...where are my keys? She dug frantically around in the bottom of her huge satchel. I have to get home...I can’t wait to tell Jack. What about dinner? He said pick up dinner on the way home. Screw dinner...I’ll get champagne! We won't be sleeping much tonight...

I might actually use this. I found I naturally gravitated more to her thoughts. I'll have to think more about one with speech. Gotta go to work now...that was fun...thanks!
 
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Matchu

Senior Member
Hi @EG

I too am keen on mania and manic voice. Ruminating on the issue you might check out something quite fun like Samuel Beckett's 'Not I'? That is quite a gruelling viewing/session, tho'...

And if I was writing your piece and I wanted to demonstrate 'mania' I would not introduce the word until after I had written out those efforts to pick the 12 locks in a row, and write it all out...and I might watch 2 minutes of 'Not I' to really get myself into the zone beforehand. However that might be the old days of me talking. These days I associate mania with bi-polar disorder and the utterly debilitating state of the constant speaking, the speech continuous over several hours, the wall of sound in the heightened state. Followed by flop. I have sat [he stood, of course] with guys in that kind of condition and it makes you both sick - so I'd hope to capture some of the nausea/atmosphere, I suppose.

I'm not sure that's what you're looking for?
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
Are you trying to show a manic character or narrator?

The dashes are perfect for a manic pace.

I react to the thoughtful descriptions. She surmised. At last. Minutes later. Her attention shifted. These of course are the narrator, but then the whole thing is the narrator and I don't know why the narrator would be in a manic pace.

Of course, 3rd person narration can mimic a character's style of thinking. Then the dashes work, but the descriptions are working against it.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Regarding authenticity: I've been manic, and it did not make me seem crazy. In the early stages, you think quickly and efficiently, and you think you can do anything.

I'm not trying to make Laura sound like a nutcase; she's not.

Are you trying to show a manic character or narrator?

The dashes are perfect for a manic pace.

I react to the thoughtful descriptions. She surmised. At last. Minutes later. Her attention shifted. These of course are the narrator, but then the whole thing is the narrator and I don't know why the narrator would be in a manic pace.

Of course, 3rd person narration can mimic a character's style of thinking. Then the dashes work, but the descriptions are working against it.

Laura is telling this story to another character, and I am using words to show it. Any deductions or contemplation, therefore, are Laura's.
 
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EternalGreen

Senior Member
I agree with those above me — the example you gave sounds mostly logical and perhaps even a bit subdued.

If you want the character to come across as having a manic episode, I'd recommend some irrational thoughts, repeated words, looping logic, run-on sentences, excessive urgency . . .

It should look like bad, crazy, weird-ass writing.

The emotions in the example you gave, to me, are at about a 6 (out of 10). For a manic episode, I'd imagine the emotions to be dialed up to 11.

Something like:

She had to escape, she had had had to! There was simply no other way. But they'd find her of course, they'd find her they'd find her they'd find THEY'D FIND HER but what was she to do what what what? Maybe, maybe she could . . . or couldn't . . . or could not . . . or would not . . . or not could . . . or not would . . . or knot wood . . . knot wood . . . No, and where were her pants she'd lost her pants her pants were there but they really weren't, it was an illusion it had to be, they'd tricked her somehow, replaced her pants with these things that were pants but weren't even pants at all but she couldn't think about pants now, not when she had to escape, she had to, there was simply no other way, the wood was knotted there were knots in the wood but they'd find her somehow they'd find her they'd find her . . .

Or if you want to go full-hog, Tahereh Mafi wrote a passage in her novel, Shatter Me, where the protagonist just thinks, for a full page and a half:

I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane I am not insane . . . (it goes on and on and on).

Do you need a check-up? :D

Your example is on the loopy side, for sure.

I guess everyone experiences mania differently. That was a fun read, though.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Hmmm...
Are you trying to convey a frantic and desperate attempt at escape? With shaky body and doubly so hands?

If so, think about the internal voice of your character. Not so much description but more emotion.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
Do you need a check-up? :D

Your example is on the loopy side, for sure.

I guess everyone experiences mania differently. That was a fun read, though.

Lol!

I was basing it off a . . ahem . . . LSD experience from my youth. That was pretty similar to what my thought patterns were like. Though I honestly have no idea if a manic episode is similar.

I did find this online, though, which seems to suggest something similar (in some people):

Many people who display manic behavior report racing thoughts. This has been described as thinking a million things at once, and in very loud voices that overlap each other and often don't make sense.

This is another example of a particularly overwhelming side effect to the manic behavior. This can prove to be extremely disorienting to the person experiencing the problem, and to outsiders looking in, can appear to be indicative of drug use.

In an attempt to unravel the chaos in one's mind, there might be vocalizations of the events going on inside. They could speak out loud, repeating what they are thinking. This is also another example of an instance where one would become particularly distracted or challenging to understand.

Though, if you've experienced mania yourself then this would definitely qualify as a "write what you know" scenario. :encouragement:
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I neglected to mention the circumstances under which I experienced mania for legal, medical, and moral reasons (promoting a certain detrimental behavior).
 

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