1. Erez Kristal
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    Erez Kristal Member

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    Opened eyes, opened mouths and opened doors.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Erez Kristal, Dec 8, 2015.

    Opened, what a great word.
    There is so much your can do in real life with simply holding out your opened hand in a welcoming gesture.
    But awkwardly enough, I find that I use it way too often. What else do you recommend to use in addition to that great word?
     
  2. uncephalized
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    uncephalized Active Member

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    First, I would use 'open' rather than 'opened' in most cases. 'Opened' is not technically incorrect--but it's more usually used as the past-tense verb form of 'to open' (as in 'he opened the door' or 'she opened her eyes') rather than the participle adjective (as in 'he saw her through the opened door, and she looked back with opened eyes').

    But there's nothing wrong with using 'open' if that's what you mean. I can't think of many synonyms or alternatives for it, really--and it depends a lot on context. Sometimes open means friendly or welcoming, sometimes it means accepting, sometimes it means passable or unobstructed, sometimes it just means literally ajar, not shut.
     
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  3. Erez Kristal
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    Erez Kristal Member

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    It's a very useful word that I find very hard to replace, but I will keep trying in sake of variety. I guess there is very little I can do about doors, but I suppose mouths and eyes can always use more spice, or in other times less.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's not about trying to replace the word - and a word as common as "open" is as good as invisible while conveying what you need pretty well, so actually to deliberately "spice it up" by using some weird obscure synonym is probably a bad idea. What you want really is to check whether you're too focused on one particular kind of detail, and if there are other things you could describe to convey the same emotion/action.

    To give an example, I once took critique from someone who was pretty insulting and overall damaging rather than helpful to me. However, she pointed out one good thing that has helped me improve - that is, I loved to write "He smiled", "She smiled", "Everyone smiled" :D Somehow, I just loved to convey that particular detail. To me, a smile can mean many things, but that only works on screen and not so well in narrative. The problem isn't in the word "smiled" or even the repetitive use of it, per se, but in the issue that I was trying to convey something ineffectively, and I was over-focusing on the smile to the detriment of other details that might be able to convey what I needed better. In my case, it would've been an improvement on the overall tone of the piece and more distinct dialogue where the "smile" is no longer necessary because one must imagine the dialogue being spoken with smiles/grins/what have you :)

    So, perhaps it is also in your case?
     
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  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with Mckk. The trouble with reaching for an alternative is essentially you're saying the same thing. With a shade difference. What you should really be doing is finding something else to say. I read a WIP on another site in which the couple did little more than smile at one another. There were no other gestures or actions to spice up their character. I think this comes sometimes when we try to make the characters too cool, too handsome, too ideal. Like movie stars. We forget that people scratch, stand on the sides of their feet, rattle change in their pocket, let their eyes wander, cough into their hands, gesture, tilt their body backwards when they laugh, pluck at their clothing, etc. They do things when they talk especially if they're just standing around talking.

    What I try to do is focus on the setting find something to help establish action to reveal my character. I recall an interesting scene in an old YA book I read No Place for Me by Barthe DeClements in which the mc Copper is a young manipulative girl whose been foisted on her relatives because her mother is in rehab. In the scene Copper is visiting her mother in rehab. Her mother is prickly and snappish not the least impressed by Copper's charm. In order to distract her mother and get what she has come for, Copper starts juggling little display pillows in order to talk her into giving her a rather large sum of money to get a haircut. The juggling not only becomes an interesting action it doubles as a metaphor for the way Copper handles people.
     
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