1. Christine Cholette
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    Christine Cholette Member

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    'item / item' Concept in Character Thought

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Christine Cholette, Dec 3, 2013.

    Strange question, but I am writing a section in a direct character thought pattern, and if they were thinking something along the lines of: Her couch was located in the living room "slash" bedroom "slash" office.
    Blah blah... in a sense conveying how she thought of the couch as being in a room that served many purposes. How would you recommend I write something like that? I haven't found any examples yet.

    Thanks!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That might be how you'd write a note in your diary. It's not likely how the thoughts would play in your head. I'd look for another way to word it.
     
  3. O. Snow
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    O. Snow Member

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    I suppose it would really depend on why that room served so many purposes. For example if she didn't have much space and used it as whatever she needed to I would say something like:

    In her cramped apartment she used a single room as her office, living room, and bedroom. She'd taken to thinking of it as "the room with the couch."

    or

    Her couch was in her bedroom, that also served as her living room, and when necessary office.

    or even

    Her couch had something of an identity crisis: at night it was a bed, in the day her office chair, and when friends were around it was simply a couch.

    Just some ideas, do it however you feel suits your story best. Some great stories like "Come, Thou Tortoise" throw conventional word mechanics and punctuation out the window because the author feels it suits the story better.
     
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  4. Christine Cholette
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    Christine Cholette Member

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    They are definitely great alternatives, but this character is very particular and sort of funny, in a direct and indirect way. I don't necessarily think that people do not think that way, because I have. And definitely have said it aloud.

    For clarification the room serves as that because it is simply where the majority of the characters congregate. The character is thinking sort of absentmindedly, "She was resting on the couch in the office (pause in the character's thoughts as she considers that she is sleeping there as well) .. slash bedroom (another pause as she realizes this is the only room with a couch and a tv) and then thinks slash living room." She is being purposefully funny in her own head... if that makes sense. It is her way of thinking about the room.

    It is the way I see her in my head and I am merely concerned with exactly how I would write the term "slash" or if I would use "/" which doesn't seem right to me. Maybe it is too difficult to have her think this way, but when the story was pouring out of my head, that was how it played out.

    Sorry for the long explanation! :)
     
  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Thoughts are hard to capture because most thoughts don't use words, only impressions. We apply words when trying to convey thoughts, but this process often dilutes and/or complicates things. But isn't writing just the conveying of thoughts? Yes, Our thoughts. Conveying another human being's thoughts in a genuine way is a challenge if it is not interior monologue because they can come across as too formalized.

    That said, if the character thought is the narration of a section and the character is sound minded and decent with words. I would propose one of the first two options proposed by @O. Snow or something similar. Hope that helps a bit. :)
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you could use the slash in her thoughts, but I'm not sure we need to see the point of her realizing that the same room serves as her living room, bedroom and office. She'd already be aware of it. So, she could be thinking, "I'm sitting here in my living room/bedroom/office..." Or this could come out in conversation and you could intersperse thoughts that way.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think in words. :confused:
     
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  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    try hyphens instead of virgules... i think that would work better for thoughts...
     
  9. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I would lump them all together, and have her think of the room as the livingbedroffice.
     
  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee true thoughts don't originate in words. Interior monologue comes in words because we process the world through language, but if one turns off the interior monologue and allows thought to continue many things exist as impressions. This is the reason we, at times can't find the right word for an idea. The idea is more expansive, yet more acute than the words. But these ideas might be hard to warp one's head around, it certainly isn't easy for me to explain in a way that is convincing.

    @mammamaia That is a great way to go about it, now that I think about it (no puns intended). Good call, Madame.
     
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  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, though, thoughts are translatable into words, and part of the reason that we don't remember things from when we were babies -- that is, when we were pre-verbal, is that we did not have a way to know what we were seeing or feeling. Once we learned the words for them, we were able to categorize what we were experiencing, and able to remember it. I think a lot of us here, as writers, have had the experience of being anxious or upset about something, and sitting down and writing what we were feeling (such as in a journal, diary, blog, or scrap piece of paper) and the act of articulating what was bothering us was helpful in us understanding it.

    Even when we can't find the right word, we are usually searching for it. When we find it, often we have that Eureka! experience.
     
  12. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    You're absolutely right. Our who socialized existence depends on language, and it clearly helps us in rationalizing abstract ideas and understanding our feelings. My suggestion is that thoughts don't originate as words, but we use words (at a certain level of thought) to pull higher, primordial thoughts into something understandable in our current human consciousness.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    We may just be looking at this differently. Most of what I think is made up of words. Like this sentence I'm typing as I think the words in it.

    I can picture that carrot cake I'm planning for dessert tonight, but I'm pretty sure the words, "mmmm carrot cake," are my thoughts before I picture the thing in my mind.
     
  14. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I'm sure we will just generally differ on this point. I think of the mind as being layered, and everything we say or write is the echo of an outer-level thought which is the echo of a completed inner-level thought, and this just goes deeper until there are only urges, feelings, and impressions imbued with meaning. It doesn't make much sense put that way, but it is an abstract idea that I couldn't prove if I tried. In short, it's my way of saying human language, as good as it is, is limited and perhaps a bit removed from pure thoughts.
     
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  15. Christine Cholette
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    Christine Cholette Member

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    I love how this topic has hatched into an interesting discussion of how people think, and the complexity of it. I think, in this case, that everyone is right. Just as how some people are more direct and mathematical in the way they think and learn, compared to those who are more creative, the same is obviously true for the way our thoughts come across in our own minds. While some people may feel that the thinking process is more abstract with less direct words and more impressions, there are those of us who do, occasionally, think in a more direct way - like a conversation in my head.

    The last part sort of makes me sound crazy, but oh well.
     
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  16. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I will come back to this later, but trust me you're not crazy. I have inner dialogues with myself and with inanimate objects like my bike. In short though, my proposal of impressions as thoughts is that those early stages happen beyond our awareness. We are completely conscious of the words we think, and think of those as the initial thoughts, but I've found through meditation, that thoughts exist deeper, beyond normal awareness, and in that level, our basic thoughts originate as impressions and pure ideas without our realizing it.
     
  17. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't meditate. But I agree with the concept of thoughts being more of impressions. It's sort of like all of the things that go on inside the computer. We, as the average computer-user, don't see all of the data and coding going on inside the computer. All we see is what is translated and displayed on the screen. It's what we're conscious of - what we're privy to. The mind works in a very similar way, I believe.

    Think about it in terms of life without language. Before language was invented, how did cavemen think? Surely, they weren't speaking English inside their minds, but not out loud? But in their mind, they had the impression of that bright, hot, helpful substance that could sometimes flicker up if you rubbed sticks together fast enough (I'm completely naive to the more primitive forms of lighting a fire, so I apologize for that ignornace; haha). The caveman never had the word "fire" pop into their mind. But, in their mind, at least, they could understand the concept.
     
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  18. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I just realized I never did make it back, but you seem to get it. Now, I've forgotten what I would have said. Ah well. :/
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Speaking of getting back to things I didn't address earlier:
    I would say it's both and I do understand what you are talking about. I'm well aware of and fascinated by how much of the brain is processing the world around us in addition to our consciousness stream.

    But when you are trying to recall a word you can't think of, it's typically because you know there is a word that says what you are thinking. So yes, you have the concept, but you cannot say at this point if the word was involved in creating the concept in the first place. Consider that you needed the word first to create the concept which you recall, but then forget the word that stood for it.

    I can give you some examples which you may not agree are exactly analogous but I think they apply. The image of nurses back in the 70s was one of doctor's assistant. But that's not what nursing is, rather it has been a profession in its own right since Florence Nightingale began researching wound care's impact on wound healing. So leaders in the field set about creating a different vocabulary for the profession: nursing diagnoses. Until we began articulating exactly what it was we were actually doing, true nursing was invisible, even to many nurses. We did it, and did it well, but until what we were doing was named, it also wasn't thought. Until it was described with the words of nursing diagnoses, it went unnoticed.

    Yes, maybe I knew when a patient was in trouble, but it appeared instinctual. In reality it was from experience not instinct. But there was no way to teach that to another person before they too learned it from experience because I couldn't articulate what it was I was observing. Now I can. And while I might have learned the skills before the words, the person I teach it to learns the words first and later enhances that learning when the patient situation is experienced.

    So it's both, and we do think in words. But yes, our brains, especially our unconscious brains but also sometimes our conscious brains can think without words.

    Supporting your position, and maybe mine as well, I can give you another interesting anecdote I experienced learning another language. I knew I'd made a C-change learning Spanish when I realized I could think in Spanish without the step of translating to English.

    Can you think in French? :)
     
  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is tangential, but your point made me think of something I experienced. I took 6 years of German -- from 7th grade through 12th. And I even took one semester in college. But it was never very easy for me. I finally realized that I never really learned German. I was constantly translating it into and from English, so I was never directly thinking in German. Also, years later when I was trying to learn some rudimentary French (and a few years later again, with Italian) for some vacations, often the word I was trying to say would come to me in German (even though I hadn't thought much about German for a long time). So, wherever I was storing this information in my brain, I was categorizing words as "English" or "Not English." Interesting how our brains work.
     
  21. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee
    Basically, I'm not saying we don't think in words. What I am insinuating is that not all thought happens through language. It is true that language shapes a large portion of our conceptualization. We half experience, half create the world around us, as Coleridge and Wordsworth would say. It's a cooperative; therefore, language is necessary for a lot of thought and comprehension. However, I see thought and consciousness in layers, and the inner layer functions unbounded by language. It is governed more by impression, imagery, feeling. If you meditate long enough, you'll notice that every thought that you consciously put words to is an echo of a completed, worded thought that happened in the instant just before it, and that inner thought is an echo of something more primal.

    Regarding language, I believe that a person can detach from their native language and learn any other if they can detach from the language based thinking. That is to say, par exemple, stop letting English govern ourinterpretations of the world and the way we think. Things are what they are no matter what we call them. Move further inward, consciously speaking, and let things be, and switching between languages becomes easier.

    I'm getting to a point where I can think in french (when I think linguistically), but it is limited because my vocabulary is still quite small and I am not immersed in a culture or environment conducive to a new way of thinking. I'm an English Lit. Major in the middle of Arizona--where the primary languages are English and Spanish.

    So there you have it. :p
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Agreed.

    Without commenting on the meditation, keep in mind that we don't necessarily know what the brain uses at the subconscious level. It's very likely words are limited to conscious level of the brain, but we don't know for certain.

    Just a thought. :)
     
  23. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    From what I can tell, all science knows of the subconscious is a change in brainwave functions. You're right, from an hard science perspective, we don't know; however, I think you know me well enough to know I don't prescribe to any one paradigm heheheh. Good thoughts though (no pun intended). ;)
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Brain science has moved waay beyond brainwaves. Not only have the tool numbers/types increased, so has the body of brain knowledge.
     
  25. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Yes, but does brain = subconscious? Not to a person who believes Consciousness is not a product of the body. lol
     

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