1. The Dark Devotion
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    The Dark Devotion New Member

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    Character Speech Extension

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Dark Devotion, Jul 17, 2011.

    I honestly don't know what else to call it, however if it has a real name please correct me.

    "Yes, I know." Said the man grimly.

    i underlined grimly because that is the focus of what i am looking for. Words that describe the speech of a character after they have spoken. Can anyone link me to a list of words that are suitable for this? Or in other words, a list of words that i could replace where grimly should go.
     
  2. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    This is considered "weak writing" instead develop the character previously and then it will be applied. Of course if this is odd for the character then use a adverb, like you did. But it is common advise to not abuse adverbs and adjectives.
     
  3. The Dark Devotion
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    The Dark Devotion New Member

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    Hmmm...will you please explain this further? I feel slightly enlightened. Personally I like to describe the situation and the mood of the character (before they speak) and then add a word such as grimly, I dont see how it can be declared weak writing.
     
  4. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I myself agree with your statement. Archaic writing, maybe, but not weak.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Colorthemap is right, it is usually considered to be weak writing. Grimly is an adverb, and adverbs are often seen to be a sign of weak writing, at least if they are overused. It is better to make clear, through description, action, and context what the mood of the character is. An adverb might be provided after dialogue where the context itself doesn't make the mood plain (for example, if someone is being sarcastic and it is not readily apparent, then you might use a word or two to make it clear.

    In other circumstances, verb/adverb combinations are often seen as weak substitutes for a better, more concrete verb.

    For example, you might say "he moved quickly." But that is weaker than saying "he bolted" or even "he ran."
     
  6. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    If you show the actions and tendancies of the character in that particular scene, the reader will know exactly how this particular character is speaking without adding extra tags such as "grimly". And your writing will be all the better for it.
     
  7. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Overloading descriptors can kindof "kill" the scene it takes away from the effect. For example you may consider:
    "That's disgusting!" I said.

    Is bland and takes away from the scene, so you may replace it with:

    "That's disgusting!" I screamed loudly.(or whatnot)

    but that is cumbersome. The first statement flies past your mind and you move on in the scene as a reader. Whereas the second takes more time to comprehend and it ruins the flow.

    tl;dr adverbs and adjectives have their place but if used too much it ruins the flow and style.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The word is an adverb. I don't know if there's a specific term for adverbs that describe someone's manner of speaking.

    I agree that it's generally best to avoid using adverbs. In my opinion, using an adverb is a bit like explaining the point of a joke - if the audience doesn't understand the joke, the solution isn't to explain it, but to improve the joke.

    Similarly, if you need an adverb to explain that someone said something sadly, or grimly, or angrily, then there may be something wrong with the line of dialogue - the words and actions of the character should have already made those things clear. I think that adverbs are most often useful when the character's actions, words, and manner of speech are in conflict, so that an explanation is in order.

    An example of an unneeded adverb:

    Jane walked into the kitchen, yawning, and dropped into her chair. She reached for her spoon and stirred her oatmeal for a moment, then put it down again with another yawn. "Morning," she said sleepily.

    Here, we don't need the "sleepily"; that was made pretty clear from her actions.

    However:

    Jane leaned on the bar and, looking James in the eye. Cheerfully, "Go to hell."

    Edited to add: Oog. Couldn't let my error above stand. The fix isn't relevant to my point about adverbs, but the line should have been:

    Jane leaned on the bar, looking James in the eye. Cheerfully, "Go to hell."


    Here, Jane's words and tone are in conflict, so the adverb communications information. However, we could get rid of it anyway, and probably should:

    Jane leaned on the bar, looked James in the eye, and smiled. "Go to hell."

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I would agree with this. You should make this as clear as possible by having the character to SHOW that he is talking grimly instead of stating it. If it is clear to most of the readers that showing a griming character is impossible, it can be acceptable to use adverbs. I don't necessarily agree that weak writing is indicated by using adverbs sparingly. However, it would be better to find alternatives by showing the readers to remove as much adverbs as possible.
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the tone of voice comes through a lot of the time by the words being spoken.

    I'm not an adverb fiend, and they can be useful if used sparingly (Ha!).

    Just avoid the 'screamed loudly' or 'whispered quietly' type of stuff. No one screams quietly or whispers loudly, after all...
     
  11. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually have a friend who whispers really loudly. Makes me wonder why she doesn't just speak properly, because everyone can hear her anyway.

    Anyway, while I do try to use adverbs sparingly myself, and apparently do so naturally because I rarely find them in my stories, I can't say I have actually ever been bothered by it while reading. Even when I'm doing my best to read analytically, adverbs just fly past me. So are anyone of you bothered by them? Possibly because you know they are "bad writing" :p
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ Maybe you are being ironic or something: "I loathe you," she said lovingly.
     
  13. e(g)
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    e(g) Member

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    I only want to say one thing in dissent here: adverbs are a part of the English language and serve a purpose--such as modifying a verb like "said."

    In this case, we are talking about a short dialogue tag, so I think it is being properly used. Don't forget: continual action tags can get just as worn out as continual adverbs.

    "Yes, I know," he said glancing at the corpse on the ground.
    "Yes, I know," Said the man as he fumbled for his whiskey.
    "Yes, I know." The man rubbed his beard.

    the key is not to be continual with anything, continually speaking.
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the 'no adverbs' rule is a little too rigidly applied these days. I've just read 2 great short stories, one by Sylvia Plath and the other by Ian McEwan. They both used adverbs which enhanced the writing rather than lowered the quality.

    Just noticed I have used an adverb above. IMO, it's really only if after every 's/he said' the writer dumps 'quietly/fiercely' etc that the writing suffers. And then it does suffer--terribly.

    Oo-er, another one. I sometimes use relative clauses too much as well, but edit out nearly all the -lys and who/where/that in the second draft.
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep good point. It reads very strange to me when every sentence is accompanied with some 'movement'. It's just stilted.
     
  16. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok, my bad... I guess some people do whisper loudly. :p

    No I'm personally not bothered by adverbs, if used well.

    I use them in my writing and find all this 'cut 'em all out' mantra a bit OTT.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Of course adverbs have a place. But there is a huge temptation to overuse them instead of making better verb choices.

    Most dialogue tags, however, should as inconspicuous as possible. Let the context and the words spoken carry the emotion and tone. Stick to neutral tag verbs like said and asked, and omit the tag completely if it is clear who is speaking.
     
  18. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since when are adjectives forbidden too??? :eek: maybe we should convert to numbers or other symbols instead, because everything seems to be considered bad writing nowadays... shesh. relax, people. too much of anything is bad, everything in moderation, just as with food ;)
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It is possible to go overboard with adjectives too. However, adverbs are more often used when unnecessary than are adjectives.

    The better guideline boils down to "eliminate that which is unnecessary adornment." However, it takes experience to recognize when the added words are mere crud.
     
  20. The Dark Devotion
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    The Dark Devotion New Member

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    By far you explained this the best. The point of this topic wasnt to argue the importance of adverbs though. It was for a list of adverbs that express the feelings and emotions of a character. I understand, and you all made it very clear to me why adverbs are bad. Even after reading all of this, i was able to see certain area's in my current writings that needed dire improvement.

    Still, i would like a list...if anyone has a link or wants to compile one i would be very happy. One of my weaker points is in extended vocabulary, so if i had a list i could just make a quick glance, and also possibly even learn new words in the process.

    EDIT:

    Also, I am not talking about weak ones, i want rare words. That is why I used Grimly. To express my want for words that are not seen very often. I could have easily just said "Sadly" but i consider that adverb as being very bland.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well you could Google "list of adverbs" - that gets a few hits, though they mostly seem to be short lists designed to explain what an adverb is, rather than lists of good or strong or useful adverbs.

    I think that the difficulty with finding such a list or persuading someone to make one is that it's something that people wouldn't believe in, so they wouldn't be motivated to spend time on it. On the rare occasion when an adverb is useful, the simplest one might be best. For example:

    "Happy Birthday," he said sadly.

    wouldn't be improved if you replaced "sadly" with mournfully or dolefully or grievously. The simplest expression of the concept is often best, especially when, as in this line, there's some ambiguity in the writing itself, so you don't want to give the reader an unnecessary second translation task.

    Although, hey! You know where i got mournfully and dolefully and so on? I looked up "sadly" in the thesaurus. So while I absolutely do not recommend this, and I take no responsibility for the results, you could do the same - you could take the simple adverb of your choice and look it up in a thesaurus to find less commonly used, related, adverbs.

    Again, I take no responsibility if this practice destroys your writing. None. :)

    ChickenFreak
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The list you are looking for is called a thesaurus. But I recommend staying clear of it. A thesaurus will absolutely not make you a better writer. A thesaurus is a tool a better writer can occasionally use to jog his or her memory for the word he or she already knows is the best choice.

    What nearly everyone here has been trying to tell you is that the problem isn't the choice of adverb, but he decision to depend on an adverb to rescue the writing.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen to that!
     
  24. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The style is out of fashion because it used to be so overused it became a joke -- look up "Tom Swifties" on the web. Use an -ly adverb in a speech tag and loads of readers will instinctively look for the pun. Others have pointed out that overuse of -ly adverbs in general is weak writing, although I would suggest that overuse of anything is weak writing.
     

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