1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Built like a behemoth

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Elgaisma, Jul 29, 2010.

    OK I have a huge character. I have described him as 6ft10 and built like a behemoth. Some of my readers have never heard of a behemoth.

    I have alternatives but keep leaning to rather crude descriptions lol Should I leave it or use something like elephant or Goliath?
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You should use varies descriptions and different small hints spread through the pages to give tip them of.

    "He made you feel like you were six again staring up at a football quarterback." "He reminded me of the love child of a bulldog and a gorilla." " The pen looked tiny between his fingers" etc.

    You can get away with Behemoth once, but I wouldn't use it first or let it stand alone.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    thats the trouble it appears in the second paragraph. It is clear from the context he is a big bloke (his Dad has threatened to drag him out of his room if he doesn't get out. He is commenting he thinks its unlikely he would succeed). His size is quite important to the story.

    The story is junior fiction maybe I need a new word - maybe Goliath would be better.
     
  4. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Do you really want to attract readers who don't know what "Behemoth" means? And are not willing to go look it up?

    Behemoth is an excellent word and it should not be taken out simply because a few people don't know what it means. Personally, I'd keep it. Don't dumb your manuscript down. If you know the word, use it.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was surprised at which of my readers didn't know what behemoth meant lol Cloistored is a word I left in despite my teens saying they didn't know what it meant. But its been the adults that didn't know behemoth. Think my teen readers know because of the RPGs Behemoth's used to appear a lot in them.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Keep it.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep it and let those readers who don't recognize the word learn it's meaning through the story's context. Behemoth is not that obscure of a word.

    Just my two cents.

    Terry
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Behemoth seems like it is exactly the right word, and as Terry said, but is hardly an obscure one. Maybe you just need more literate friends. ;)

    I don't believe in using an obscure word if a more common one is just as good, but never shy away from the perfect word just because it will never be heard from the lips of the cast of the Jersey Shore.

    Just as long as it really IS the right word. The wrong word is like hammering in a jigsaw puzzle piece that almost fits. Everyone's eye will go straight to it, and they will immediately react that it looks wrong and spoils the puzzle picture.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks I'm going to keep it lol it is perfect. It was because it was my two most literary readers I had a wobble lol
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Use behemoth. If you choose not to use it, do so because it isn't the right word, not because some people don't know what a behemoth is. If writers wrote using only the words that the reader with the smallest vocabulary knows, then they're contributing to the shrinking of vocabularies generally, and that way lies the death of language. It's part of a writer's responsibility to use the right words, thus helping readers learn those words and why those words are the right ones.
     
  11. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Keep it. They can pick it up from context or look it up. Half the fun of reading is expanding one's vocabulary.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the problem i see is how you're using the word, not the word itself...

    'built like a' makes little to no sense when you seem to really mean he is one, since the word doesn't mean a specific entity, applies to any 'creature or thing of monstrous size and power' [dictionary.com]...

    what would make better sense is something like:

    "He was a behemoth. At least six foot ten, the guy looked like a tank standing on end. And just as lethal!"
     
  13. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Yeah, don't say he's built like a behemoth. Just call him one directly.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    he isn't a behemoth it is just his size I am referring too, its a similie rather than metaphor I want. And in colloquial English he is built like a___ insert favourite adjective works. Like my friend says Angus is definitely Northern English lol Also it is first person and present tense.
     
  15. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    They don't know what the word means? I sort of find that sad.

    I would keep the word. If they don't know what it means then they can look it up. That or just sort of figure it out by the context of the word. If they don't get it then there will most likely be more clues within the story to help get the image of him. Such as what w176 suggested.
     
  16. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the readers learn what it means from context, you'll have killed two birds with one stone - you get to use the word that fits best, and your readers will have had the pleasure of becoming a little smarter :)

    (P.S: What tense is "will have had"?)
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks the phrase is staying in tact. Its a seventeen year old boy talking and anything too flowery always feels wrong. 'I am 6ft10 and built like a behemoth, doubt he could drag me anywhere.' is staying as is lol Built like an outhouse or brick shed could be used but I like the Behemoth idea.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...when referring to his size, the only correct way to use the word is to say he is one... just as you would say 'he's a giant/midget' and not 'he's built like a giant/midget'!

    ...so 'built like a' still makes no sense, even in 'colloquial english' since a behemoth isn't one specific thing, like an outhouse or brick shed... and simile ends in 'le' not 'lie'...

    ...however, if it's just part of a clueless kid's dialog and you want him to be making the mistake, then it's your call, but i'd still give some thought to how lacking in vocabulary skills this makes him look to the reader... but the word shouldn't be capitalized...
     
  19. Perdondaris
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    There's nothing much wrong with comparing the bloke to a behemoth. If you prefer a simile to a metaphor here, there's not much problem. So yes, go ahead.

    Edit: Given that the offsite link was deleted, presumably due to lacking explanation, it's probably worth mentioning that the Behemoth is, in fact, a specific mythical creature.
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Since it is dialogue, even if the word is used incorrectly, or at least not in the best possible way, that contributes to characterization. I still vote to leave it intact :)
     
  21. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Said it for me.
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks everyone, its staying in tact. I am pleased with the way it looks and sounds in context.
     

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