1. lucyvp
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    lucyvp Member

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    Need help on how to write a particular sound

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lucyvp, Mar 1, 2010.

    How do you put into words that thing people do where they kind of make a small grunting 'no comment' noise? Sort of a scoffing, dismissive noise? I have been writing something along the lines of 'He made a small grunt, but said nothing" but I'm thinking my characters are beginning to sound like they're channeling pigs!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    He snorted, and turned away.

    But if you're using it so often it sounds like a barnyard, you need to vary your dialogue more.
     
  3. lucyvp
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    lucyvp Member

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    Hmmm... thanks.

    I think I've used the grunted thing about four times so far (I'm at 36,000 words) but I am having trouble dwelling on things and doubting myself. It is written in first person, and the words I seem to use often are 'glanced', 'stared' and 'nodded' and things like 'I smiled', 'he smiled', 'grinned Mary' etc - argh!, they all seem to smile lol. The thing is, when my character is talking, she is describing what's happening, and that's what people really do in these situations. So every time I write something along the lines of 'he glanced quickly at the floor, his face unreadable' I think 'oh no - not glancing again!' I'm wondering if I'm just being anal about these words, and they are natural behaviour and so should appear regularly? When I read the scene back it sounds fine. It's while I'm writing and I begin to type them I think "Uh oh - these characters always seem to be glancing, looking and staring!" Just wondering if anyone else has this problem - maybe it's just me being hard on myself.
     
  4. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    You could always just say they shrugged instead of making a noise. They could roll their eyes or something too.
     
  5. lucyvp
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    lucyvp Member

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    I've probably used 'shrugged' and rolling their eyes at least five times throughout the book. Am I being overly paranoid when I think this is too much?
     
  6. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    You can say that someone made a "scoffing, dismissive" sound, or that he scoffed or dismissed something or another (without making any noise at all). Unless it's important for your reader to imagine your characters as the very "pig-channelers" you describe (and it's a great description;)), then I'd go for a different presentation. After all, people with an attitude need not be making grunting sounds. And if such noises have no significance in your story, there's no need for them to show up at all--and certainly not repeatedly.

    BTW, dialogue tags that include the word "grunt" and "snort" (in particular) will virtually kill a story for me--however long or short. If you must use these words in particular, do so in complete, descriptive sentences instead of dialogue tags. IOW, give them the significance they deserve, if they're important enough to use at all, and (I beg you) only do it once.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Is it perhaps a harrumph?
     
  8. lucyvp
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    lucyvp Member

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    I like that 'he made a scoffing, dismissive sound.' I'll have to search through my book to find any time my characters snorted lol, and tweak it a bit.

    Wreybies, my daughter suggested 'Hmph'. I've read that before but I'm not sure it fits in this case! I really think someone should invent a universally accepted word that can be used in this situation! Harrumph comes close, but to me it sounds like something a Dr Zeuss character would say lol.
     
  9. PsychoFreaX
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    PsychoFreaX New Member

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    Can't you just say the sounds yourself and pay attention to the letters coming out of your mouth?
     
  10. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    How about "Pfft." That's the noise I make.

    Instead of 'glanced' you could try things like 'he lowered his gaze.' Amounts to basically the same thing. Just a thought. You may be a little overly concerned about this though. repeating actions like that only become a nuisance to me if it several times per page. If it's only been 4-5 times so far in a 30 000+ word story, you might be okay. Plus you can always go back and edit to your heart content when you finished. :)
     
  11. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personaly I wouldn't have noticed it. Now if its like 5 times every few pages then I might catch it. But if its done sparsely but throughout the book I wouldn't put any thought into it.
     

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