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  1. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Insane Laughter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ubrechor, Apr 18, 2011.

    I'm a little concerned with this short horror story I'm writing.

    The main character is followed by a demented, ethereal voice that has been with him for as long as he can remember. The voice is malignant and spiteful and prone to insane laughter, even though, as part of the main character, it is in its best interests to keep the main character alive.

    The thing is that I can only find so many ways to describe the laughter. "The insane laughter came in a short burst...The cacophony of cackles shook through him yet again...The giggling grew louder and more delusional..." But it seems I've run out of different ways of portraying this demented laughter.

    Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated and I will be sure to check out the excerpts and threads of those who comment with useful help and advice =)
     
  2. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Quite legitimate to turn to a thesaurus here...yet you might be as well, or better, served by describing the impact of the laugh on those who hear it - as you are doing in your second example.

    All that said, once you've established the nature of the laugh, be wary of going on about it all the time: will likely get tiresome if dwelt upon overmuch.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Seems like a problem where you're trying to rely on external tropes to deliver meaning and depth in your story. This can often be seen in characters who sigh a lot, or constantly roll their eyes, or with heavy-handed symbolism or things like this insane laughter that the writer probably thinks is cool, but probably isn't actually doing all that much work in the story.

    Unless your story is about this insane laughter, and I'm guessing it's not, then there's probably not much reason to make it such a featured player in the story. Why? Because doing so makes it a story about insane laughter and all the various ways you can indicate it, instead of something else, and I'm pretty sure the story is really about something else.
     
  4. Hightower March
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    Hightower March New Member

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    After you've said all their is to say about it, continually trying to find new words for the same thing would just be trivial. I'd see it as flowery language. Once it's set up and described, "the laugh" works just fine.

    We don't describe Bob as "the balding man wearing glasses and a t-shirt" if those traits have already been shown. Re-stating it doesn't relay new information, so we just call him Bob.
     
  5. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Instead of focusing on the laughter itself, focus on your character's reaction to it. Think about how this reaction changes over time, and have it show the reader the story of how his relationship with the laughter develops.
     
  6. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Thanks for the comments - I think it takes a while to break out of that habit and thinking of it from the reader's point of view instead of the writer's. =)
     
  7. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Indeed, in roughly 1500 words i've 13 instances of laughter that i've pointed out to the reader. So this is too much?
     
  8. Rachael1918
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    Rachael1918 New Member

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    That's good advice! One thing I'd add to this is that it might be a good idea to only offer a thorough description of the laugh the first time it's heard - after that just stick to referring to it as 'the laugh' or something along those lines. You can spoil the effect of things like insane laughter by repeating just how insane it is on a regular basis.
     
  9. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Only if it's just a reoccurring gimmick--Oh no, maniacal laughter again!--and you're just using it as a diversion or thinking 'this has to mean something if I repeat it enough'.

    If the story IS how a character grows and deals with this laughter, then it's fine. If you took away the laughter and it doesn't change the meaning of the story all that much, then that's a red flag.

    Meaning, if you took the coon hunting out of Where The Red Fern Grows, then it wouldn't be the same story. So, in that novel, it never gets redundant, because it means something new and different every time, and isn't just huntin' for the sake of huntin'.
     
  10. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Thanks for all the advice,

    I'm thinking of the voice as a separate character while writing - and the laughter is the main way I convey its insanity in the story. I'll cut down on the description of it a bit, but I think it is a key point of the story...
     
  11. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    A somewhat related problem I've been having recently is how one can write characters' mannerisms, without seeming repetitive and/or gimmicky? Or is it better to just scrap them?
     
  12. Hightower March
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    Hightower March New Member

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    One thing I loved about Hekat from the Godspeaker trilogy was one particular grammatical mannerism she kept throughout all three books. She'd sarcastically ask a question, then answer it herself. "Am I a fool? No, I think that I am not." It didn't seem gimmicky, since the character grew up illiterate and only learned to speak well later in life. It's a mannerism that's able to take many different forms.

    If the mannerism is something like a character running their fingers through their hair, it's a different story. There aren't many forms that could take, and if it's not useful to the plot somehow I'd scrap stuff like that.
     
  13. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    insane laughter is easy. No need to describe it even. Just type "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA" doesn't that look insane? Looked better when I thought before I wrote it..
     
  14. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    Is it high and shrill and scream-like, or low and creepy? Staggered and breathy or booming? Is it the kind of laughter you hear in the cheesy horror movies or is it perhaps disturbing in the fact that it's innocent or lifeless, despite the eerie situation?
     
  15. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    It's a little reminiscent of Joker's laugh, only it has some genuine anger in it as well. It is almost as if the voice cannot help itself - even when it should be angry or scared, it laughs.
     
  16. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Trippy. Well, I'm just going to throw my opinion out there since I, creepily enough, listen to the Joker's laugh on occasion on Youtube videos because I find Mark Hamill's voice positively fascinating.

    From personal analysis, this laugh should be a bit like a screech, just a loud, obnoxious bellow, only it is warped, disturbed, and breathless with the effort of straining the lungs. It should start out like a hearty chortle and escalate into something demented.

    Then again, from what I know, most of those who are "insane" don't really laugh at something that makes them upset unless they have something called "inappropriate affect" which is basically when they react inappropriately at the wrong time. An example of this is if someone were to attend their mother's funeral and suddenly burst out laughing.

    Sorry, can't help but sort of point that out... keep up the good work though.
     
  17. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Mark Hamill is legendary =P

    Thank you for your input, but I just want to clarify a couple things:

    I think your description is more or less a detailed description of Joker's laugh. I said it was like Joker's laugh, but it isn't the same. For one, it isn't the same laugh all the way through; there are several different kinds of laughter coming from one voice.

    Secondly, I agree with you that unless they have a specific disorder as you mentioned, the laughter wouldn't really be realistic. Then again... realistic? Who says I want it to be completely realistic? And also, does the voice even exist? If so, it only exists inside the MC's mind. And although the MC may think the voice is insane, it wouldn't actually be the voice that was insane - it would be the MC. So I don't see that as much of a problem.

    Thanks for your ideas, though, and I might take your description into consideration while revising what I've already written =)
     
  18. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    My take would be to describe the insane cackle once in the detail you feel is appropriate. Then use it in narrative that SHOWS. Let me give an example how I did that.
    In my story I have an arrogant man who speaks in a patronizing way. I make clear that he does that when more then one person is present in his company. In one scene the protagonist is with him in a room, and he is far nicer. But suddenly I make my protagonist think "There it is again, that patronizing voice".

    HTH.
     
  19. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    I quite agree, and this is the style that I have been adopting so far. I had just realised the number of times I had called the laugh to the reader's attention and was wondering if I were overdoing it.
     
  20. ompm33
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    ompm33 Banned

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    You could hear the insanity building from somewhere far deeper than his absent heart as the laughter erupted through his teeth and into my soul. ... I could be way off base here, if so i appologize.
     

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