1. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    How to write a prolonged yell or scream.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Anthelionryu, Apr 24, 2013.

    I searched for this through the history. If it's been talked about before I couldn't find it.

    Anyway, I recently stumbled on a thread that said it was bad writing to use all caps for screaming. I was really glad to have found the discussion because I'd used this in quite a few places in the story I'm currently writing.

    Then, as I was fixing these occurrences in my writing I realized that in some of these yelling/screaming instances that I'd RUUUUUNNNNNN out the word to convey that it was drawn out.

    So... what say you? Is this bad? If so, how would you go about showing that this was a prolonged action?
     
  2. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    I don't see anything wrong with that approach.
     
  3. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't usually put screams in dialogue, but show them in action, maybe describe how it sounds or how it feels, whatever to color it a bit. Haven't really used caps since my and Kat's writing project was in its infancy. We just don't like the look, and I also haven't really warmed up to putting a dozen letters in the middle of a word to show a long yeeeeeeeeeeeell. At most I use two, and even then it's more often in something like "aww," instead of blood curdling screams. No offense intended to anyone's preferences, it's just that in my eyes caps and elongated words look tacky. Up to personal taste, I suppose. I have no idea what publishers or agents think about this.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've never written a scene in which someone screams for a prolonged period. However, I think I'd just spell the word correctly ("Run!") and leave the rest up to the reader's imagination. The reader will imagine just how the character utters the word. If I've written my character well enough, and described my scene well enough, the reader will hear the scream approximately the way I do. If he doesn't, that's okay too - he'll imagine it the way it works best for him. Trust the reader's imagination; often it's even better than yours.
     
  5. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    Norm, Trian, Minstril, thank you for all the responses.

    Trian, the scream is one character yelling at another character to run. There is action in the scene as well but I can't get away from having the scream in the dialogue. As far as the caps thing... I'm still a novice writer and I was fortunate to stumble on that thread. Pretty much everyone says the same as you. They don't like the caps either.

    Minstril, excellent reasoning. ...put me over the top. In the end it's about letting the reader use their imagination. The extra letters are going away.
     
  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    RUUUUUUUUN! Is fine
     
  7. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    in real life, when you tell someone to run, do you say "Run!" or do you say "RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN?"
     
  8. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    LOL Selbbin... your signature is hilarious.
     
  9. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    Would I be violating the rules if I posted the passage to clarify the scene?
     
  10. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Nah, go ahead. I still think "Run!" is better.
     
  11. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    It turned and looked at Ethan. Her fear peaked and panic overtook her. She burst out of her bunker yelling at the top of her lungs, "Run!"

    as opposed to what I had previously...

    It turned and looked at Ethan. Her fear peaked and panic overtook her. She burst out of her bunker yelling at the top of her lungs, "Ruuunnnn!"
     
  12. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Drop the extra letters that don't create an extra sound. People yell ruuuuuun! But they never carry the 'n' and yell: ruuunnnnn! In summary, stick to phonetics and only extend the vowels.

    Attaaaaaaaack!
     
  13. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    Thanks, I had issues with that when I was writing it. Aesthetically it bothered me to see that many U's but it didn't seem right with the N's either. That was what I ended up with. But now I think I'm resolved to eliminate the extra letters. If I must I can always add it in the description I suppose.
     
  14. thebigcricket
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    thebigcricket New Member

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    In your example, I definitely prefer the second option (Ruuunnnn!). I agree with minstrel that the reader's imagination can do A LOT of work, but in your first example, my imagination was trumped by the very short word that "run" is. I wanted to hear in my head "Ruuunnnn!" but when I read "Run!" I heard exactly that: "run" and nothing more. I think it's because what she yells is just one word, and that one word is just three letters. Were it, "Go! Go! Everybody go!" I think the reader's imagination would stretch it out.
     
  15. thebigcricket
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    thebigcricket New Member

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    I agree completely. Thanks, I just learned something new.
     
  16. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    My will is weak... now I'm confused again. That was exactly the reason I wrote it that way. I definitely want to to come across as a prolonged yell but it just doesn't as three letters. ARG!
     
  17. thebigcricket
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    thebigcricket New Member

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    Haha, writing is such a %#$&. But truly, I cannot see any reason to not use the elongated version. What reason is there? Because it looks yucky? silly? childish? ugly on the page? All very weak reasons, I think. No reader is worried about such nonsense, only writers. The reader is lost in the fiction, and "Ruuun!" helps that fiction feel alive.
     
  18. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with T.Trian on this one. It looks tacky, but more importantly if reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaders see too many vowels it can break the flow of a sentence. Like it just did. It's easier just to describe the sound as a 'grating wail,' or with some other adjective that implies length.
     
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  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Caps and added vowels look pretty amateurish. I suppose in a children's book, one might find that, but I haven't seen it in adult books and I read a lot of action/adventure/mystery/genres with lots of running and screaming.
     
  20. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I have never seen: "Attaaaack!" or "Ruuuun!" outside of a comic book/graphic novel. I don't really think it works well in literature. "Attack!" and "Run!" convey all that you need in my opinion.
     
  21. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    Ok... I've been swayed back to not extending the word. I just need to figure out how to word it so that it's apparent.

    Thank you all for your input. This has been very helpful.
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see anything wrong with extending the word, although I agree it's the vowel that should be extended.

    It won't confuse the reader or look too weird on the page, if you only extend it by a few vowels. "Ru-u-u-n!" is another option. Obviously "Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuun" looks silly, here on its own, but it might work!

    "Run!" conveys the meaning, but doesn't convey the sound of the scream, yell or shout. You'd have to include "he screamed," shouted or whatever, to get both the meaning and the sound across.

    I'd say do what works best. Yes, it would probably be a good idea to post it to us, in context. What works in one instance might not work so well in another.

    How many times have you seen "Waaaah!" written into a piece of prose? Works a lot better than "Wah, he cried!" :)
     
  23. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd keep it as "run!" It's just... no. To me it'd feel like you're directing the reader too much to hear what you hear. Sure, it's your novel, but in my opinion the author has to allow the reader to contribute to the story. It's like a shared project... oh, I digress, but the point being I wouldn't use caps or elongated vowel constructions, and I hardly see other published writers using them either. Sans comics, as JHunter pointed out.
     
  24. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I just don't like writing that tries too hard & is melodramatic, and caps and elongated words strike me as both.

    It would be better with just the word itself and perhaps a description of how it was shouted. As in, "Run," she screamed in alarm, drawing out the word as she got to her feet.
     
  25. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It can also be done:
    "Ru--u--n!"
    using an extra letter and en-dashes (which I can't show here).
     

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