1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    May I see your imagination?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, May 1, 2013.

    "Gar. That name itself is revolting. I can't believe I'm about to eat one. I would tell you that it smells fishy, or muddy rather, but truth be told, I can't smell a damn thing through the hot peanut oil and cornmeal batter. Don't know what kind it is; long nose, short nose, spotted, alligator. Course it's not Florida gar; they live in, well, Florida. And you know ain't no way no proud Bayou Bengal is gonna eat something exclusively from Florida."

    Without my use of a dialogue tag, will you describe the character who just told you the above statement?

    I have a bet with a somebody what the most popular answer (or close to it) will be.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's really hard to say, given only three lines. Also, the milieu is the deep South, and I don't have much experience there, so my ear for the dialect is worse than useless.

    But based on what I see here and the stereotypes I'm familiar with, I'm envisioning a middle-aged white Southern woman fed with plantation money who's been to finishing school that didn't take very well. She's used to being waited on by African-American servants. She's stuck-up, supercilious, and ignorant. She claims to love Jesus but can't list the Ten Commandments. I don't like her much.

    Is there a prize for this? :)
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    well, since that character is you, and we've never met, i'd be hard put to describe you other than to say that you seem to like playing 'head games' and need to work on your grammar... ;)
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is funny to read Minstrel's take, because mine is totally different. I absolutely picture a man. Hard to say what age -- my first thought was maybe in his fifties, but I could also see him being younger, although no younger than twenty-five or so. He's from LA, and proud of it, but worldly enough to realize there are different tastes and types of gators. He's probably been to Florida, at least on a visit. He may have even lived somewhere else, but he's returned home, choosing to stay in LA, satisfied that he is correct that it is better than anyplace else. He's wise, but not conceited -- he loves his fellow bayou dwellers. He doesn't like the homogenization of all the various foods that are suddenly battered and deep fried -- he'd rather keep the focus on the particular food itself, and disguising it in this way is not a good thing. (Although he would not use or think the word "homogenization.") Different things should remain different -- they can all be equally valid, but you should know what you're eating. He, being from LA, though, wants to stick with the LA cuisine. So far, I do like this guy.
     
  5. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Minstrel, chicagoliz

    I love the depth of your answers! I will give time for a few more responses before breaking down the passage into the different elements that we attempted to use in order to elicit different characterizations.
    To the victor goes the six-pack!
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah not sure where minstrel got the woman from, I imagine a colonel sanders type guy with a fine ol' beard an' a big ol' hat who sits in his local diner fixin' his whiskers while shooting the southern breeze with a JD - no coke mind - with his booted feet on the chair opposite, maybe leaning back on two chair legs shhh-mokin' and dropping n-bombs out the winda at folk he don't got much time for...
     
  7. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I envision a good old bayou boy. He has owns an air boat, hunts gators in his spare time (which is most of it), drinks moonshine from a jug with xx's on it, and is missing two of his front teeth. He lives in a house in the swamp that's built on stilts, and doesn't go anywhere without his trusty shotgun. He is a jolly sort, who enjoys sitting in the sun and fishing, and has survived three hurricanes and the gulf oil spill simply by his conviction that he is a man of the bayou and that is where he will stay. His elderly father lives with him, and they play banjo together in the afternoons, and sing in creole. He also enjoys catfish.

    The occasion of this quote is that A&E has just contacted him regarding staring in an upcoming reality TV series called Bayou Bengals, and he is giving an interview for the teaser trailer.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I got the woman thing from the word "revolting" and the fact that the character doesn't just say "oil and batter," he or she specifies that it's peanut oil and cornmeal batter. That attention to detail comes across as more female than male (especially Southern male) to me. And for some reason, "revolting" seems more of a women's word to me, and smacks of finishing school, or at least of pretentiousness. I think a man would be more likely to say "disgusting" or some near-synonym. Also, "truth be told" seems womanish to me (probably because my great-aunt used that phrase often), and also carries a whiff of pretentiousness.

    In addition to all that, I think any red-blooded Southern boy wouldn't be put off by having to eat a fish - any fish. He either loves the fish (especially if he caught it himself) or he'd take eating it as a challenge. He'd be ashamed of himself if anyone heard him making that statement. Finding a fish revolting would be tantamount to turning in his balls at the local Department of Manhood office because he fails to qualify for them.

    Ergo, the character is a woman. QED.
     
  9. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    I agree. The character seems to be judging the south.
     
  10. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I don't really understand the point of this.

    You're the writer. So it's your job to tell me who this is.
     
  11. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    That really is the point. Not telling you was the purpose of this exercise to illustrate dialogue and how words create a character and that improper usage (especially when using local color) can add or detract from the character. We composed the original post to be neutral; not by being genderless, but by balancing male characteristics with female characteristics in speech. Here, we used Deep South rhetoric to elicit strong stereotypes from your imagination.

    Our dissection of the passage:
    This was our equivalent to "Well, I do declare." A strong feminine statement. Brings to mind a Southern Belle fanning herself on the veranda to me
    We thought this to be masculine because the man is usually in charge of any "outside cooking" down here, but not too masculine; just enough to take the edge off of the opening sentence.
    We used this as our strong masculine influence because it speaks technically about the different species of gar in the local waters. Two people were confused by the subject and thought it was all about alligator.
    designed this to be gender neutral only to show location

    Unfortunately, the sampling pool is too shallow to go swimming in. There were three votes for male, two votes for female, and two votes for this is stupid. Maybe the passage was not as powerful as we thought, but we got a couple people to think.

    For those interested, the character was based on Colonel Shuffle from the cartoon "Dog Gone South".
     
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    HA! Wasn't far off with Colonel Sanders then :) but was awaiting a better answer Garball
     
  13. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    What made me think "male" was
    Particularly since it's used so early on -- I picture a man as being more likely to say "damn" than a woman -- particularly a refined, Southern woman as Minstrel pictured.

    (Now, *I* would say "I can't smell a damn thing" -- actually, I'd probably be more likely to use f-ing instead of damn, but I don't speak the way most women seem to speak. Maybe that's why most of my characters are men.)
     
  14. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    A fat man with thickly-haired forearms who sweats a lot and has a moustache. Possibly Italian. Owns a boat and enjoys the occasional glass of good wine. Went to a respectable university for business.
     
  15. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I was picturing a 20 something bookish, arty girl from new york visiting the south for the first time. Glasses and flowery dress and cardigan and boots and nostrel ring, the last line being her mockery of southern slang.
     
  16. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    Gar? nice! try to get them to eat a Carp next.
     
  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Had no idea what "gar" was meant to be, until I read some of the comments. For me, I pictures a big, chunky Southern black woman - someone who knows her food, knows how to cook, isn't afraid to point out a fool when she sees one and to say it right to their face, someone whom you don't mess around and won't take no nonsense. She is someone who knows her stuff and has her very strongly held prejudices. Somehow, I attribute these qualities to black people - could be a prejudice stemming from the media - but generally speaking I find black people more fiery than Europeans, and Africans, the ones I've met anyway, definitely love their food. The Southern twang made me think of black maids, potentially an influence from reading The Help.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    am i the only one here who answered the actual question?... no one but the thread-poster himself did that, folks!
     
  19. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    But on a site such as this, the use of the word "character" is usually implied to mean the fictional creation who engages in action or dialogue. Although "character" could be interpreted to refer to the writer, as it can mean an actual person, the most typical meaning in this forum is the fictitious person within a story.
     
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Did you read my reply?
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're just deliberately misunderstanding the point of the exercise, aren't you? ;)
     
  22. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Or, maybe it's just a demonstration of cognitive disconnect.
     
  23. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    At first I got a teenage girl because of the 'ewwww, yuk' element, but by the time I was halfway through that had shifted to a gruff salt-and-pepper type, perhaps bearded, with one too many greasy lumberjack shirts and faded Levis. Oh, and a wooden shack and fondness for Jack Daniels...
     
  24. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    THIS! I can't give you rep, but this deserves 100 points. ::applauds::
     

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