1. Want2Write
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    Want2Write Member

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    How else to say 'Tired'/ 'Exhausted'/'Sleepy'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Want2Write, Jun 2, 2014.

    Please help. MC is tired mainly because of the lack of sleep - for the whole book. Emphasizing that he is sleepy is very important to justify some of the mistakes he makes, which is the main twist that moves the story forward. Right from the first page, till the end of the novel he is sleepy! I have to remind the readers that he lacks sleep, over and over again. But i am stuck with only the following to show that he is tired [and not using 'sleepy'] and he needs sleep so badly:

    - He falls asleep whenever he goes into some deep thoughts,
    - He drinks strong coffee from the cafeteria, but after few minutes he finds himself asleep on the table and someone waking him up.
    - Eyelids closes involuntarily
    - His shirt collar stinks of saliva from drooling in the sleep

    What else he feels when he is that tired? Thanks in advance for all the suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, from personal experience, someone who suffers from lack of sleep isn't going to be sleepy all the time. There's that "second wind" thing, when the adrenalin gets moving again. Judgement is still impaired, yes, but if you have the guy falling asleep all the time, it's going to get comical or boring versus "twisty". I'd use those adrenalin pushes as another way of reminding readers of the lack of sleep.

    Another caution - don't forget that readers aren't dumb - ie, don't hit them over the head with this tired bit.
     
  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Tuckered out
     
  4. jim79
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    jim79 Member

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    knackered!
     
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  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    running on empty?
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    knackered - pooped - gone the way of the buffalo
     
  7. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I've used the word heavy because when I'm tired, because everything is heavier than usual: the arms like to lay at my side, my eye-lids feel puffy and slow to blink, my feet slap the ground a little harder, shoulders sink more, etc.
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I second this. Being somebody who lives their life on their fourth or fifth wind, being physically tired and lack of sleep are something that you easily get used to. When I get that tired, my brain gets tunnel vision. I can only concentrate on one thing at time or nothing at all. It is the mental exhaustion that gets the best of you.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you've described sounds more like narcolepsy than just being 'tired'...
     
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  10. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I third the above. Chronic fatigue and tiredness make up around 40% of my mental 'condition.' Although bipolar comes under the umbrella of mental health, I suffer some awful physical side effects too. Tiredness is something I know and understand. I have to constantly push myself, so I know that fifth-wind feeling well. @Garball hits the nail on the head when he mentions tunnel vision. Shit, do I know that one. I think of it as a drowning man holding on to a log. The only important thing at that moment of time is clinging to something, anything, to stop me from collapsing in a heap. Doesn't go down well with employers especially if one feels ready to drop only two hours into a shift. The one thing I can't do when knackered is multi-task.
     
  11. WeWill77
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    WeWill77 Member

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    Fatigued.... But when I feel this way here's what I use: out of energy/in a haze/hazy/in a daze/dazed/out of it/dead-tired/drunk-tired/dead/dying/done/exhausted/fucking exhausted/so tired I can't even function/loopy/sleep-deprived (mess)/dreamy/in a dreamscape/hallucinating/seeing or hearing things

    Most of them are hyperbole. Others describe the feeling of seeing less than clearly while one is lacking that whole night's sleep. Sometimes it really does feel like I'm hallucinating a bit....
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm not sure you need new ways to say he's tired. A few references to the fact he has yet to get that needed sleep and the rest is showing the results of lacking that sleep. If it is truly important to the story, then the reason (consequences, results) it is important to the story should serve to show that he's never quite rested up.
     
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  13. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    I agree with Ginger. Show us the "tired" and "sleepy" with drooping eyelids and cross eyed stares.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and don't keep beating the reader over the head with it... once the problem has been established, too many references to it will be more annoying, than effective...
     
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  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Like others have suggested, try to show it. He asks people to repeat themselves, he misplaces stuff, mixes up reality and dreamworld and says odd things because of this, his eyes sting (they feel like full of sand/salt/chili), and so on.

    This is the stuff I've picked up when @T.Trian is having a no-sleep binge. It gets quite interesting after a while.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A no-sleep binge? :D
     
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  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I hesitated to call it insomnia 'cause it's more like a... no-sleep binge. :D
     
  18. Renee J
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    I have trouble remembering common things when I get tired. I've also started dreaming while still awake.

    I agree with the others - show the effects from lack of sleep rather than just stating he's tired.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that you probably don't need to emphasize his tiredness as much as you might think you do.

    I would also eliminate the collar/saliva part.
     
  20. Want2Write
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    Want2Write Member

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    Thank you all for the responses. Yes, I want to show the effect of lack of sleep. MC was working in a project for 3 months with very less sleep, like 3-4 hours a day. the night before the big day, his mind didnt work very well, he commits a mistake that proves fatal to the project. How he fights his tiredness and corrects the mistake that night forms the whole story. It may sound simple, but it gets complex. So as you can see its important to show his fatigue, and I dont want just to say the same thing with different vocab. But as you all advised I want to SHOW the tiredness.
     
  21. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    There are loads of words for this, but most are dialectical. You could probably find a lot just by looking up synonyms in a thesaurus. Personally I use "knackered" a lot, a term I learnt from Karl Pilkington of all people.
     
  22. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Knackered' ...a generation past was a taboo word.

    It means exhausted after sexual intercourse. I remember the shock on my parents' faces - when as a 12 year old I skipped out of my canoe and explained to the elderly neighbours:

    'I am totally kneckered,' I said, which whilst not a slapping offence, merited a stiff word or two.

    Such a premis you have set yourself: a character always falling asleep is like anti-reading...your novel will sit at the bedside for years.

    'How's the book?'

    'Oooooaaahhh..really good...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.'

    Good luck tho :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014
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  23. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's not really insomnia 'cause I do get sleepy and tired, but I don't want to go to sleep because I know that if I do, my back pain will get worse, and the next thing I know if I do fall asleep, is waking up to pains so intense, they wake me up from deep sleep, so hence: no-sleep binge. :D

    And as for the effects, I'd say after around 20-24 hours of staying up, you get the usual stuff: sandy, stinging eyes, drooping eyelids, yawning etc. Then it goes away and you feel really energized and active.

    The sleepiness/weariness comes in cycles, every cycle being worse than the one before. Usually the next cycle comes at around 40-50 hours (in my case anyway), and that usually includes all the previous effects, but add the nodding (you almost fall asleep, but when your head nods forward, you jerk out of it), and it starts to be a bit more difficult to follow complex thought patterns if you're e.g. having a discussion or watching a movie with a deeper plot, reading a scientific paper or some such.

    Then it goes away again, but even the active periods between the cycles get worse and worse: when the 40-50h sleepiness cycle passes, you're active again, but you have trouble concentrating, you make mistakes with simple things (that's why it's dangerous to drive when you haven't slept in a couple of days because you might be in such a zombie state that you simply forget to break at red lights or some equally stupid mistake you'd never normally make), people have to repeat what they say to you several times before you understand their point, you have to read paragraphs, even sentences several times to make heads or tails about it etc.

    The next cycle usually hits around the 65-75h mark, and that's when I usually start to gradually lose my ability to function, i.e. I can no longer understand writing well enough to e.g. translate texts or proof-read essays etc, I have difficulties following the plot of a movie, I sometimes say weird things (I think I say the right words, but turns out I said something that doesn't make any sense), and so on.
    At this point I often just pass out at some point (usually after staying up 70+ hours, especially if I have slept only 4-5h a night for several nights before the no-sleep binge); the body gives up, and I might fall asleep sitting up in the middle of a conversation, halfway through a meal (with food in my mouth), even while having sex (isn't that awkward? Way to boost your partner's confidence :rolleyes:).

    It's no wonder sleep deprivation is used as one of the enhanced interrogation methods, because it does get pretty hellish after a while when you'd want nothing more than to just lay down and sleep for ages, but know you can't.

    There are a few ways to fight off the "tiredness cycles," like standing up and moving about a bit, physical exercise, fresh air, conversations, sex, splashing your face/head with water, a cold shower etc. Some substances help as well. Caffeine is probably the most popular, but it doesn't work for me (I can take a dozen pills and it won't keep me awake any better; it just boosts my heart rate and makes me feel a bit restless, and if I do fall asleep, the sleep will be very shallow), another is nicotine.
    Although it works differently for everybody, quite a few people who have been prescribed the synthetic opioid, tramadol (a mid-level painkiller), get really energized and can stay up for 2-3 days with significantly less trouble than without it. When my doctor prescribed that to me, I could lay awake next to my wife, just thinking about stuff and the hours just flew by. Mind you, I was perfectly lucid or even "hyper lucid," i.e. everything was super-clear, I could think very fast, think about complex ideas more easily than usual etc. I'm sure there are other legal and illegal drugs that would help although they're probably more often stimulants and other "fast" substances than opioids since they tend to be "slow" for the most part.

    Insomnia is a little different, but since that doesn't seem to be what you're writing about, I won't go into it now.
     
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  24. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    Dead Tired worn out beyond dead tired.
     
  25. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I like 'shagged' too.
     

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