1. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Repetition because the action of the scene dictates it

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Malisky, Jan 11, 2016.

    So, lets say that you got a segment in your chapter that is by default repetitive. A theme. I don't know what else to call it. For example:

    A door is banging. It's an alarming banging for the story and it keeps happening in a repetitive manner until someone opens the damn thing and faces the consequences. With each "bang" the character builds up tension, taking different actions until we get to the catalyst.

    Here is a more specific example of what I mean:

    It was seven thirty in the morning when the brutal banging on the door of her small complex apartment, made Maria jump off of her bed in a disoriented state. Who might that be so early? This was bad! She felt every single brain cell of hers crystallizing as her half-conscious mind was instantly filled with awful instances in which she was unable to handle any situation. She tiptoed to the hall and approached the door, but halfway towards the peephole she got the cold feet. She simply couldn’t face the horror that stood on the other side of that safety barrier. The door banging started again, this time in a more enraged manner, which made her hop in fright half a meter back from where she stood. Eventually, she managed to catch her breath and rushed into her sons’ room, pacing like a cat that is looking for a hiding spot. She found him lying face-down on the covers of his bed, carried away into a the state of deep sleep.

    “Vito... Vitorio!” she whispered to his ear and poked him at the back, but he didn’t show any signs of movement. She tried again but this time in a louder whisper and a more purposeful body shake.

    “Vitorio, wake up! Wake up immediately!”

    “What? What is it?” he feebly grumbled to his mother who was posing a threat to his blissful calamity, but once she got this first attention, she kept on shaking him more intensely until he got so irritated that he sharply turned on his back and gripped both her hands.

    “Stop it! What d’ you want?” he said in a loud voice looking her straight into the eyes. She looked as if she was about to cry. He let off her hands. The door banging started again. She pressed her index finger on her lips in a sign of shushing him, but now he was clearly alerted, locking his wide-open eyes onto hers, trying to read the situation. [...]

    Now, I've posted this already as an alternative intro for my novel in the workshop category and I got a detailed review explaining what is wrong with it, so just to clarify: I'm not interested about corrections in any other areas other than the repetition part. I am not going to use this intro anyway, but I am unable to see in which way you could avoid repetition of specific words in a repetitive action which is the tension creator in the scene.

    Is this repetition justified by the content of the scene and the mood I'm trying to give? If not, how else would you handle the scene, when it is important to include every bang because it is the cause of each reaction that follows? What I mean is that I don't want to see the story completely rewritten or trimmed into one sentence.

    Very fast. sloppy example: Maria woke up from the banging on her door and scared out of her wits, she rushed into her sons room. She managed to take him out of his slumber after a considerable amount of persuasion and he headed towards this eminent threat to check it out. :p (Don't even joke about something like this, or else I won't be able to take you seriously).

    I want a technique. A creative idea upon such a matter. Any brainstorming would be greatly appreciated. :)
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I would keep the repetition but emphasise it even more. Something like this (small changes made because of the re-arranged words, not trying to correct you):

    Bang.
    It was seven thirty in the morning when the brutal banging on the door of her small complex apartment, made Maria jump off of her bed in a disoriented state.
    Bang.
    Who might that be so early?
    Bang.
    This was bad! She felt every single brain cell of hers crystallizing as her half-conscious mind was instantly filled with awful instances in which she was unable to handle any situation. She tiptoed to the hall and approached the door.
    Bang.
    Halfway towards the peephole she got the cold feet. She simply couldn’t face the horror that stood on the other side of that safety barrier.
    Bang!
    This time the sound was more enraged, which made her hop in fright half a meter back from where she stood.
    Bang!
    Eventually, she managed to catch her breath and rushed into her sons’ room, pacing like a cat that is looking for a hiding spot. She found him lying face-down on the covers of his bed, carried away into a the state of deep sleep.

    It would be even more effective if the sentences in between each BANG were short and snappy. The reader will really feel how intrusive the bangs are, and the way they keep interrupting Maria's thoughts.
     
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  3. karldots92
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    karldots92 Active Member

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    I would agree - describing the banging using the passive voices distances the reader from the action reducing the impact of the scene. Doing it this way brings the reader much more into the action and urgency of the scene. I would also put the reader into the characters head. Rather than describe the action as if you were outside put it in the context of being the character
     
  4. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Very original idea and somewhat theatrical. It might work in a different concept or flow, but at least for me in the specific story it seems incompatible. Ok, I like intense situations myself but isn't this just a tad far fetched? The one banging on the door is not a killer. It's a pissed off middle aged lady. (She is the probation officer). And she is not banging once at a time in a slow rhythm like a mourning drum. The bangs are like "bang, bang, bang!" As time passes this would be translated into "bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!" and in a non-consistent time in between them. It has to be sudden. Maybe I'd use this technique somewhere in the beginning but only once. (Making a direct "Bang, bang, bang!" at some point. But not the whole time while the action is taking place.

    How would you handle the situation if the repeating word had no sound. If the word was "blood"?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's no problem with repetition, as long as it's used for effect.

    You may want to examine whether you want to repeat the word, or the image. If the word is important, then obviously it has to be the word itself that's repeated. But if it's just the idea you want repeated, you may want to sub in other language - "bang" the first time, "insistent, heavy knocking" the second time, "dull, heavy thud that seemed to vibrate in her bones" the third. Whatever. If it's just the idea you want to repeat, you can play with the wording.
     
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  6. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I like this idea a lot and it's what I'm usually trying to do also. But in some of my writing, by trying to disguise the "key word" with such passion, the descriptions sometimes turn out a bit too poetic, which somewhat disrupts the "mood". Although your word selections upon the banging matter are pretty good. Heavy knocking... why couldn't I think of that? :)

    Don't take my "resistance" to your advice personally (meaning my "...but"), because I'm trying to push this subject to the limit in order to hear some ideas that would never cross my mind. It doesn't mean I won't use it.
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Your example doesn't seem like a technique of repetition. It's not close enough together to be considered that. Just seems like you're reinforcing the idea for effect which is fine.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My confusion about the original piece is that the banging keeps starting "again". "Again" means that it stopped. When did it stop? Why did it stop? Why didn't we see the characters being relieved when it stopped? Why is the author making it start-stop-start-stop-start-stop?

    If it's continuous, that's different. I'm not saying that it couldn't also be communicated in a way that doesn't quite work, but it's different.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Returning to offer a minor rewrite that acknowledges the stop-start-stop-start and would therefore irritate me less. I would still wonder if the stop-start is worth the trouble, but at least I wouldn't keep asking, "Again? When did it stop?" I've boldfaced the stop/start bits.

    It was seven thirty in the morning when the brutal banging on the door of her small complex apartment, made Maria jump off of her bed in a disoriented state. Who might that be so early? This was bad! She felt every single brain cell of hers crystallizing as her half-conscious mind was instantly filled with awful instances in which she was unable to handle any situation.

    The banging stopped, and the merciful silence allowed her to catch her breath. She tiptoed to the hall and approached the door, but halfway towards the peephole she got the cold feet. She simply couldn’t face the horror that stood on the other side of that safety barrier.

    And...bang. Again, pounding on the door, this time in a more enraged manner, which made her hop in fright half a meter back from where she stood. It continued for a few seconds this time, before another reprieve of silence. But she had lost all courage; she couldn't open the door now.

    She rushed into her sons’ room, pacing like a cat that is looking for a hiding spot. She found him lying face-down on the covers of his bed, carried away into a the state of deep sleep.

    “Vito... Vitorio!” she whispered to his ear and poked him at the back, but he didn’t show any signs of movement. She tried again but this time in a louder whisper and a more purposeful body shake.

    “Vitorio, wake up! Wake up immediately!”

    “What? What is it?” he feebly grumbled to his mother who was posing a threat to his blissful calamity, but once she got this first attention, she kept on shaking him more intensely until he got so irritated that he sharply turned on his back and gripped both her hands.

    “Stop it! What d’ you want?” he said in a loud voice looking her straight into the eyes. She looked as if she was about to cry. He let off her hands and started to speak, but a fresh clamor from the door silenced him. She pressed her index finger on her lips in a sign of shushing him, but now he was clearly alerted, locking his wide-open eyes onto hers, trying to read the situation. [...]
     
  10. Electralight
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    Electralight Member

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    I agree with with @peachalulu . it doesn't seem like a form of repetition to me. I actually enjoyed it very much. What @Tenderiser suggested is repetition, and while it does have the desired effect, it is not as enjoyable to read (in my opinion)
     
  11. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Thanks for your ideas and advice. It's been very helpful. I've been writing out of hobby from a young age, but not regularly. It's been about a year that I've taken writing more seriously, so I don't know some terms and techniques most of the veteran writers know. I was mostly writing out of creative impulse, which I still do but I've never researched about the "writing" part itself. Lately, I've been watching videos and reading articles with all sorts of advice from editors, publishers and writers, which turned out to be a real revelation for me. How come I never did this earlier? But apart from helpful, it kind of stressed me out too, as advice can also be a bit confusing. I'm in the phase of re-examining my older writings and correcting them and also writing new things in an experimental manner in order to see how this advice can fit in my writing and how it affects my style.

    peachalulu says:
    I think that this is what I meant to say, but didn't know how. (Thanks for clearing this out). So, I take it that it's ok to use a repetitive word in order to describe a scene like that. Am I right? Also, then what does a technique of repetition means? What's the difference?

    ChickenFreak, I can't thank you enough for the time and work you've put into this. :) (Considering the workshop part also). When I say "door banging" I mean how it usually happens in real life. For example when I knock on someones door, I usually knock four times straight and then stop. I wait for a while and if they don't answer I start knocking again. If I get pissed at waiting I start banging. :p It's the part in my scene where I find it common knowledge, so I don't describe it as much. Since you find it confusing though, it already means something and I'm gonna look into that.

    Electralight thank you very much! It means the world to me when somebody enjoys my writing. :D
    Keeps me motivated.

    At some point I'll be posting another part of my writing that has to do with the same subject, but first I have got to translate it. I'll post the whole of it in the workshop category and for those who are only interested about this matter, I'll be posting here only the specific part (that has to do with repetitive words).

    Thanx again! :)
     

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