1. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Sarcastic friends (brief language...)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Imaginarily, Oct 28, 2015.

    I think this is the right section for this. The characters themselves are fine, it's my narrative that needs work. I've hit a snag that is causing readers to assume the plot is doing one thing, when it's really another. I broke it!

    *ahem*

    There's a piece of dialogue in one of my scenes that sounds perfectly normal and not suspicious at all in my head, because it's par for the course of how me and my friends interact. We're all full of shit and we know it.


    Jack has no intention of killing Nicky, nor does Alison have any reason to think he might. He is going to kill somebody, but she's got no reason to suspect that either. Somehow, I have failed to display this conversation as banter, two friends teasing each other. Based on the feedback I've gotten, this scene reads like Alison actually wants Nicky dead. :( (She doesn't.)

    At the moment, I can't see how to fix it without force-feeding... which would not be fixing it at all.

    I could just say The girl gasped in manufactured horror at the joke. but that feels an awful lot like slamming it down my readers' throats. If I tell you it's a joke, it's not funny anymore, right?

    Or I could describe how Alison perceives Jack, but the story's not from her point of view. How do I get into another character's head without leaving my MC? o_O

    *gasp* Are the giggles not enough? :bigeek:
     
  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Sounds like banter to me and I did not get the impression anyone in that scene was seriously intent on killing anyone else.

    The taxidermy line proves the joking nature of the scene.

    I'd change the word manufactured to mock:

    The girl gasped in mock horror.

    Manufactured is dunno, just wrong :D
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't understand how anyone could read that exchange seriously. It's very obviously two friends joking around.
     
  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Also: the paragraphing is a bit off, OT but for the sake of helping:

    “Nicky.” A slyer grin still.

    Jack is talking, Alison is grinning. By leaving the beat on the same line as the dialog you link it to the person talking, IMO, and should separate them to remove confusion.

    “Nicky.”

    A slyer grin still.

    IMO.
     
  5. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    No no, Jack is the sly grinner. Alison's half-drunk and ...well, giggly.
     
  6. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Nergh. Maybe I'm interpreting my critique wrong. I definitely need more sleep.

    Don't mind me. :whistle:
     
  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Ok well something is out of whack:

    Jack took another drag of the cigarette, eyeing his employee slyly. “Arranging a murder. You know, the usual.” (no grin)

    Alison grinned (the only grin so far) back at him, suppressing more giggles. “Ah, of course. Who’s the lucky victim?”

    “Nicky.” A slyer grin still. (Slyer than what? The only person grinning is Alison.)

    I read it twice to work out what was going on and the red shows the analysis conducted to reach the conclusion I indicated above.
     
  8. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Sleep rocks :D
     
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  9. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't get the idea that this was anything other than banter. Not sure how anyone would believe that.
     
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  10. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    ...

    Oh.

    Well, that would explain a lot, wouldn't it.

    <-- dumb sometimes.

    edit to add: Jack actually does quite a lot of grinning before this excerpt, but I suppose that specific line could use another smile. I'll rearrange some stuff. :write:
     
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  11. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't want to be prescriptive, but if you don't want to put in the word 'joke', could 'deadpan' be used in there somewhere. It isn't as in-your-face telling as 'joke', but is a strong clue.
     
  12. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Wrong mood, but you get an A for effort.

    I'm just going to force Jack to smile when he says "Nicky." and tinker with the paragraphs around that line. That should lighten it, I think.
     
  13. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    In some ways it's better if 'deadpan' is the wrong mood as that way it becomes an example of a concept rather than a suggestion of a word to use.

    Is there some way of using the basic concept, i.e. another word that implies joke without being as explicit as actually using the word 'joke'? One that matches the mood.

    'Grinned' can fix it. But, I wonder if there's a cleverer way to fix it. (no offence intended). When there's snarky dialogue it's sometimes a way for a writer to put in some really clever dialogue. Rocky Horror Show: "I ask for nothing, master. Then you shall receive it. In abundance." I like the conversation you have, but wonder if it's the kind of thing where some witty gems could be included. Perhaps that would be a two birds with one stone thing. Maybe.
     
  14. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Very possibly. :superthink: I've said before (not in this thread), my vocabulary needs an upgrade. I will have to approach it again once I've rested my brain-meats.
     
  15. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm forever checking synonyms. Frequently I end up virtually slapping myself on the forehead thinking 'how on earth did I not think of that word?'

    'Brain meats' :) Surely you can use that one in your writing!
     
  16. Doctore
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    Doctore Member

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    I can see that this conversation was friendly and not serious, but maybe that is due in part to the fact that you told me before I read it that is was in fact a joke. I wonder if there is a way to show the reader before this point that the two of them have sarcasm witt and dark humor? If you could show that the two of them joke like this normally or on occasion, you would not need to further explain at this point.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
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  17. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I agree that this is obviously silliness. It seems more like your beta readers have faulty social-cue-ometers.
     
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  18. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    I see this conversation as only a bit of 'bants'(pardon my inbetweeners reference:D).
    Perhaps taken in isolation, I can kind of see how some people might read into this wrongly, but I feel that for me if you take that scene in the bigger picture of who your character it will be more evident to everyone that he's joking.
     
  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I took the slyer grin still line to mean Jack's grin is even slyer than Alison's.
     
  20. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Sure, except I had no indication Jack was even grinning.
     
  21. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Oh my, look at all these replies. :bigoops:

    Thanks everyone for the input. :-D I'm still going to do some precision editing, but it looks like I might not need to change as much as I thought.
     
  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's naturally assumed. I mean, with a conversation like that, Jack's gotta be grinning.
     
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  23. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I didn't read, "eyeing his emplyee slyly" as grinning.

    eyeing:
    1. look at closely or with interest.
    2. (informal) look at someone in a way that reveals a particular, especially sexual, interest.

    Nothing alike for me. The sexual version makes sense to me given the content of the dialog / Alison's response.

    Deadpan was mentioned above and when I am doing humourous or comedic interaction I don't grin, I play it straight or deadpan, as I find it more effective. I don't think you can assume it naturally, only subjectively.

    Goes to show once again writing really is all about how it's read as much as how it's written, and the filters of the reader can have a significant impact on a piece of writing's interpretation.
     
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  24. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    This story indicates that an emotion is not meant literally by saying that a character screwed their face up into a mask of almost convincing rage.


    http://flashfictionmagazine.com/blog/2015/10/29/these-pretty-roses/?utm_source=Flash+Fiction+Magazine&utm_campaign=f7a39942d2-Flash+Fiction+Magazine+Subscribers&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1d2c1c61fc-f7a39942d2-109196677

    A technique that could be used here?
     
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  25. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I honestly didn't think of it as more than banter. Witty. Not sure how people could take that serious.

    [​IMG]
     

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