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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Arghhhhh!

   
Author Topic: Arghhhhh!
Merlion-Emrys
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So I've recently been having a very nice discussion about a couple of related things have to do with speech and sounds. One half has to do with putting forth cries, screams, calls and things of that nature. Usually, for example in my fight scenes, when a character is injured I say "Ta-kun cried out in pain as the creatures claws scored his leg" or the like, rather than something like "Argh! Ta-kun cried as the creature's claws scored his leg."

It's been brought to my attention that it might enhance some sequences that as it stands in my work are silent with that sort of "sonic dialogue." I'm open to the idea but now it's been brought up, I'm curious as to how others approach this, and also how they view the issue as readers.

[ December 19, 2011, 11:35 AM: Message edited by: Merlion-Emrys ]

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extrinsic
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I think causation is in play with spelled-out sounds. "Argh! Ta-kun cried as the creature's claws scored his leg." For example. Which comes first? The cry or the creature clawing Ta-kun's leg? Somewhat simultaneous, but I think they could be inverted in order for benefit of reading ease, and maybe add an intervening setup for transition from the external action of the injury to a visual sensation to a thought reaction to the exclamation (interjection).

Example (this one is direct discourse);

The creature's dew claw raked his thigh. Blood gouted from the slash. That's not good, Ta-kun thought. "Argh!"

The former example is indirect discourse, "Ta-kun cried out in pain as the creatures claws scored his leg." However, I still feel causation is inverted.

Example;

The creature's claws scored his leg. Ta-kun cried out in pain.

[ December 17, 2011, 02:12 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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aspirit
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I think neither is wrong and each creates a different impression. "Ta-kun cried out in pain" allows the reader to imagine the sound they think fits best. I imagined a long, surprised cry, a sound that would be difficult if not impossible to write into dialogue without looking comical.

"Argh" sounds more controlled, more frustrated. It would also be more appropriate in pulp and comedy. The same character might say "Oomph!" when hit in the belly.

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LDWriter2
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I read this earlier today and I tried to recall how published writers do that. I can't [Smile]

But I think it would be a good idea to look out for that as you read and then decide what is best for you. This could very well be one of those things that you decide.

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Robert Nowall
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Spelling out a cry of pain as "Argh!" sounds like something a comic strip character might say.
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Merlion-Emrys
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Yeah, that's kind of how I feel and why I don't usually do it. There may occasionally be times when a certain exclamation might fit but it honestly feels a little corny to me.
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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I think causation is in play with spelled-out sounds. "Argh! Ta-kun cried as the creature's claws scored his leg." For example. Which comes first? The cry or the creature clawing Ta-kun's leg? Somewhat simultaneous, but I think they could be inverted in order for benefit of reading ease, and maybe add an intervening setup for transition from the external action of the injury to a visual sensation to a thought reaction to the exclamation (interjection).
My question is more if it should be done or not, or at least people's opinions of it, rather than how to do it. As it stands, I don't usually spell such things out at all, but after receiving some comments on the subject I'm looking for opinions on the concepts of "Argh", "Oof," "Ahh" etc.
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extrinsic
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Personally, I follow the principles of avoiding phonetic spellings, limiting discourse markers (nonsyntactical words), and letting context do the talking as much as possible, for following the reading ease principle. Though, on the other hand, exclamations have powerful uses, like setting up for closing or opening narrative distance and expressing emotional reactions to stimulations when timely and judicious.

"Argh," "Oof," and "Ahh" are phonetic spellings and discourse markers (nonsyntactical words that connect sentences to wider contexts), though not as nonsyntactical as "Vai dom," Marion Zimmer Bradley's swear word from the Darkover saga, more nonsyntactical than uh-huh, less nonsyntactical than like when used as a discourse marker, and on par with onomatopoeia, though not onomatopoeia in the sense they aren't widely accepted words.

A-H or A-A-H are the conventional spellings of words with what I take to be the potential intended meanings of "Ahh." However, context is critical because those words have several widely different emotional meanings. I'm not a fan of adding vowels or consonants to conventional words (sooo loooong), though will for ahh, uhn, and so on when I'm being lazy and don't feel like setting up the context at the moment. A useful principle of thumb for determining reading ease for such words is to see if the word or spelling is listed in an abridged dictionary. If it is, Barb's your aunt. Stet. If not, my writing practice is to recast, or editor practice: suggest a reconsideration.

Me, without an artful context to support "Argh" or "Oof" my imagination would make perhaps unintended associations with the campy dialogue balloons of the Batman television saga, comic books and comic strips in general, and graphic novels, as Mr. Nowall has said. We two are of an age who are likely to make such associations, though. "Ahh," I don't know, it seems okay, given artful context.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Although I'm younger I grew up watching the Batman show with Adam West too...and yeah, that's pretty much what it makes me think of. I mean, I'm not totally opposed to the idea, but usually when I do dialogue I want it to be actual dialogue...as in real words with definite meanings.

Also aspirit: I agree about the statement of a cry or whatever allowing the reader to imagine their own sound, which I feel is often more effective especially for human noises.

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Robert Nowall
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Ah, yeah, the Batman effect...there's a parody of it from "The Simpsons," years ago now, which, thanks to the deliberate use by them of a certain name, comes up on an almost-daily basis in my family circle...

I may have been a little hasty in "cartoonizing" any spelled-out word...after all, my characters will say, "Uh" and "Er" and "Mmm" and such, and that's acceptable. You just don't want to get carried away with it, say, making it a sentence in its own right. ("Olleraugherumph!" comes to mind, from a favorite fantasy series from the 1970s---spelling uncertain as I don't have it in front of me.)

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EVOC
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I would write it out. For one, I don't think I have ever yelled out "Argh!" in pain. Typing out "cried out in pain" paints the picture while allowing your readers to imagine the cry in a way that related to how they react to pain. IMO it would connect your reader to the character more.

There are many ways of doing this, and really none of them are wrong.

One other thing to keep in mind in the power of adrenaline. In a fight pain is not always evident right away. Many times the injury is more evident then the pain for a time.

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