1. thatoneauthor
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    thatoneauthor Member

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    Really concerning question for readers and writers.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by thatoneauthor, Oct 2, 2015.

    Okay so I have this idea and I don't know if it would work or not.

    Basically let's say you're writing your story and the reader reaches a point where it's suppose to scare you.

    Example:

    He didn't want to eat food-

    He wanted blood.

    Here's the idea: Change "blood" to the color red. Make it stand out,

    Would it add that extra punch?

    Keep in mind, I wouldn't overkill the color process so it would distract the reader, but I think it would add a special touch making "blood" red.

    We can take this idea further and say we make it a gif. Like the "blood" is red and red droplets are dripping off it.

    Something I came up with. Thought I'd discuss it.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope. It would pull me right out of the story. When you say 'blood' in nice normal print, the reader pictures blood in their own mind, much scarier than you can do with red ink or drip images. As soon as you try to take over that image, you make it less, not more, scarey.
     
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  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    No offense, but that would look really cartoony and full of cheese; would take me right out of the story. May as well have It was a DARK and STORMY night when Milfred found a HEADLESS Blood-soaked corpse standing on its feet dragging an axe behind it! (OoooOOOOOooo!!!) Milfred was :ohno: and tried to book it, but the spirit made him quite :dead:.

    You don't have to over-kill it. Readers will form their own picture of what the scene looks like with just the word 'blood' itself.
     
  4. Acidveins
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    Acidveins Member

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    I agree with the posters above.
    It seems that you are trying to tell the reader, "Hey! Be scared now!"
    When the only way to scare someone is to show them something scary. Explaining how this craving for blood affects the person's psyche is much more compelling.
     
  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chicken Freak is right, There is a less is more value here.
    Reminds me of the lion king of all things. As a friend pointed out. They cut away from the final moment when Scar dies and while this seems like a ploy to make it less scary. The imagination is likely far scarier than anything they would have showed us. Also it feels like a cheap gimmick. Writing should be solid. If one wants to enhance the atmosphere of it. They could read by a small light in a dark room during a storm! You can't force atmosphere like that.
    In my opinion anyhow..
     
  6. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Remember the end of Se7en?

    (I know, I'm a turd for using a film example but I think the principle is the same.)



    Spacey: "I took a souvenir: her pretty head."
    Audience: :bigeek:

    We are never shown the contents of the box, and yet audiences swore they saw Gwyneth Paltrow's head in it. Seriously, you can look it up. It's nuts.

    This scene works so well because we're not beaten over the head with the details. We know it's Paltrow's head in there, but nobody has to see it. We're told once and only once and that is more than enough. If you force-feed your readers, they will resent you for it.

    @Acidveins has it right -- show us how the character feels about the blood and we'll care about it a lot more. Are they obsessing? Confused? Lustful? Is the craving driving them into a rage?
     
  7. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    If I saw that in a novel I would probably have to change the sheets on my bed. Not from wetting myself with fright, I don't know where you would get that idea, but from spilling tea everywhere as I laugh hysterically. So, of course, the answer is no. The last thing you want is for your readers to be laughing when they're supposed to be frightened. Not to mention the fact that you don't even get to decide the typesetting of your book. They'll decide the colour of your font, and the colour will be black, from cover to cover, just like every other novel. The gif idea is even worse.

    But since you bring this up, I hope you aren't planning on using any other gimmicks, like exotic fonts and formatting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  8. TenaciousDreamer
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    TenaciousDreamer New Member

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    I think simply blood would suffice. Most readers have their own horrific connotations in regards to the word.
     
  9. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that this is a bad idea on all accounts. If you're going for a self-published e-book, it will definitely seem contrived and gimmicky, probably evoking the word "amateur" in many readers' minds. If you're going for traditional publishing, I feel very confident that stunts like this will likely earn an immediate rejection, if only for not adhering to standard manuscript format. Manuscripts don't use fancy font colors.

    Regardless, don't use gimmicks to do the job of good writing, whatever the platform.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Leaving aside the unnecessarily acerbic comments, the heart of the issue us that our job as writers is to find the language that evokes the desired images rather than provide visual cues, which, as @ChickenFreak pointed out, are likely to have the opposite effect. One of the drawbacks of taking inspiration from other media is that it is easy to forget the essential differences between them and reading. Our cues to the reader must be conveyed by our use of words - an indirect effect rather than direct.

    The best example that springs to mind is a phrase that a friend of mine is using to pitch her novel, which is set on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, an area full of inlets, creeks and wetlands. She describes it as "a land of drowned rivers." In your reading travels, I'm sure you can come up with some examples that grab you - not to be copied, but to inspire.

    Good luck.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Unless you're going experimental, as in the whole book is experimental, I wouldn't do it. Colored writing is distracting. Rather than pulling you into the story it pulls you out because you notice the physical change - the ink - rather than the word and the imagery it conjures.
     
  12. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    Yeah, supposedly Faulkner wanted to write The Sound and the Fury using different font colors to indicate which character was narrating which passage. He might've been able to pull off something like that, but in this case I think you'd be better served by Stephen King's (I think) advice that "nothing is scarier than a closed door."
     
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  13. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    After browsing over the thread, here is my thoughts: I rarely feel effects from reading; for some reason, reading has never been something that scares me, or makes me emotional, but I still enjoy a good story. However, if I was to read something such as what the original poster suggested, I wouldn't be scared or shocked by it at all; and a picture of a GIF of blood wouldn't change that, either.

    What does really get to me, though, is the factors surrounding that scenario. The best analogy I can think of to explain what I mean is the 'psycho'. A psycho is a scary person because they are unpredictable and you never know what is going on inside their head. It's not the thought of a psycho wanting blood that effects me, it's the 'signals' he gives off that has effect. So changing the colours of the words or adding pictures wouldn't really effect me any more than the same word in simple plain text. Using the words on the page as the building blocks to create the world inside our own imagination is what really effects us, and the better it is written then the more vivid it becomes, making it more effective. If you were to describe the 'psycho' with great skill, then it would scare the shit out of me, but simply changing the word psycho to red wouldn't.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    While agreeing with all the other posters, can I just also add the obvious. Most e readers only print in black and white. Even those that can handle colour may not be able to import coloured text as a font. And as for paper I don't know that the pubulishing programmes can take coloured font. They'd probably print it as black anyway.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  15. Australis
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    Australis Active Member

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    I use red to highlight sections of my writing that I'm not happy with. It stands out, as weak writing.
     
  16. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    This idea is an example of Metafiction

    As others have pointed out, it's likely to break the reader's immersion in the story, because it will remind them that they are physically reading a work of fiction. However, if you have avant-garde ideas you want to communicate about the structure of literature, or you want to make the audience laugh by way of 'metahumour', you could explore the idea. Practical publishing considerations aside, how appropriate it is probably depends on what you're trying to achieve with your work.

    The specific device you're talking about is, I believe, referred to as Painting the Medium That page has examples from all sorts of media of works that have done similar to what you're suggesting :)
     
  17. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did it in a story when I said 'my essay before you, written in a green ink, sir.'

    I can't remember exactly, think I blocked the whole paragraph as green. A pompous writing competition, a big risk, likely an early rejection, but I mean it doesn't really matter, I ended the piece with the character jumping into the River Thames, a nihilist conclusion - worth a chance, eh? I could never finish 'that' story. Changed tense halfway through as well. I am dreadfully experimental on avante.

    The red blood is amusing - as SiFunkle - bright eyes - says, probably best used if you were making a 'writer point' with sallow cheeks, and on...
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I wish Faulkner HAD managed to do this. I could not make head nor tail of Sound and Fury when I was forced to read it in high school. And I was a literature major. It stands out as one of the most inaccessible 'classics' I've ever read.
     
  19. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    To be, the whole concept is like saying, 'don't think of pink elephants.' If you change the colour of the word blood to red, I think red, not blood. The reason why I'd think red and not blood is because it sticks out from the rest of the text, so I'm more concerned about why the word is red rather than what it actually conveys.
     
  20. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh for the gif that font could give us, to have others see our words as we perceive them. :)

    Sorry 'bout that.
     
  21. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You can add an extra punch by italicizing the word, instead of changing the color.

    "He didn't want to eat food -- he wanted blood."
     
  22. thatoneauthor
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    thatoneauthor Member

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    Ha! Great comments. Most of you are provoking that it's telling the story rather than showing, but let's take it a step further...

    Let's say when you're reading a scary novel and the next line is suppose to scare the absolute crap outta you-

    -Would it be cool if like sound could come out of the book and jump scare you?

    Or what if it's an action book-

    Would it be cool if an explosion word could make an explosion sound?

    I thought of these ideas only because readers sometimes get hypnotic while reading, and may drift read or lazy read and not get the full effect of something. It sometimes happens to me, where I have to go back a whole page and go like "Wait, what the hell did I just read?"

    A sound or visual que might enhance the experience and make them immersed again. Just a thought.

    We've all played interactive horror games right? Like the ones where you click on things and pop ups come out, or while you're reading a spooky sound comes in the background. Same idea...
     
  23. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Sounds to me like you'd rather be writing a screenplay than a narrative, friend. How would you make a gif happen on a printed page? How would you make a loud jump-scare happen when a reader's eyes get to a certain word? (Even in an e-book format, these things don't make sense.)

    Great writers know how to scare their readers without any of that nonesense. Words can be as terrifying as anything you see on the screen. I read a book of short stories by Stephen King (I know, many authors here don't love him but his short stories are better than his novels, in my opinion) and some of those stories scared the living daylights out of me. They were all plain-text. Nothing fancy. Pick up a copy of The Skeleton Crew and read through all the stories. Notice what moments scared you and sucked you back in.

    A loud sound coming out of a book would just confuse me, not draw me in. Red text, or a gif, would look cheesy and contrived.
     
  24. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    No. If you're bored when reading, find something better to read.
     
  25. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Would the book know when your eyes had hit the explosion word, or would it just make explosion sounds all the while you were on that page?
     
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