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  1. Xerc
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    Xerc New Member

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    Turned/Turning and Walking

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Xerc, Nov 18, 2013.

    Hi Guys

    New to the forum and need some general editing advice, so there may be a whole load of posts from me looking for help, apologies if I repeat things already discussed.

    I'm a new author and recently finished my SciFi book, 75,000 words.

    So my questions is :

    When editing I noticed that I use the following words extensively -

    Turned/Turning - 131 instances
    Walked - 143 instances

    Examples :

    1. 'Turning to her, Bob started bouncing to the music, grabbed her hands, and walked backwards towards the bar.'

    2. 'He drifted off for a moment then turned back to her, “I heard blah is blah."'

    3. 'Bob turned to the now slightly flushed and gawping young man. “Have some respect Jim.”'

    4. 'Apprehensive, he walked tentatively into the room and looked down at her.'

    5. 'It dawned on her that she now felt very alone and her face dropped as she walked in.'

    6. 'They walked a small distance to an opening that looked over the warehouse.'

    Not sure if I'm just being paranoid, but there's a limit to what a thesaurus can suggest for the act of walking and turning, plus I don't want to over complicate things. By the way, the above examples are edited lol.

    Has anyone got any advice on general movement or travelling for characters?

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  2. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    That doesn't seem too like many instances to me. Also, I hear that certain things are ignored by readers as much as punctuation. He/she said is a good example. Maybe walked and turned are no different.

    I would be more concerned about your sentences and wording. 1 and 5 are run-on sentences, and there are a lot of unnecessary words and phrases. I'll get specific if you want me to.
     
  3. Xerc
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    Xerc New Member

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    Thanks Okon, that makes sense, I only noticed the use when it appeared more than once in a paragraph. I don't want to give the impression that people are twirling and walking in the scene ;-)

    I'd be more than happy to have any comments or suggestions on sentence structure. I'm planning to pay for a professional editor at some stage, I'm just at the stage of making sure certain words aren't overused and cleaning things up so it doesn't make the editor's head spin.
     
  4. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd agree with @Okon. What you say seems fine, it's how you're saying it.

    1- Bouncing is wrong. Grabbing is aggressive. Do you want that? I also have this funny image of him walking backwards with just her hands. Perhaps an extra pronoun to clarify.

    2- Drifting off makes me think of sleep.

    3- Bob turned to the gawping young man...

    4- Apprehensively..

    5- Feeling very alone, she..

    6- Walk a short distance
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  5. Xerc
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    Xerc New Member

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    Hey Fitzroy

    Thanks for the breakdown, I do appreciate it and if you're available for editing/review then please PM me.
     
  6. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, but an editor I'm not. ;)
     
  7. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to go line-by-line here, and pick a few nits. Remember: I am not published, so this is my opinion and hardly counts for much.


    1. 'Turning to her, Bob started bouncing to the music, grabbed her hands, and walked backwards towards the bar.'

    Turning to her is active. It's hard to explain, but the only way you could keep turning would be if the sentence was this:

    'Turning to her, Bob starts bouncing to the music, grabbing her hands, and walking backwards towards the bar.'

    See? Now, let's turn that into two sentences and drop the 'ing'

    Bob turned to face her and started dancing to the music. He then* smiled, took hold of** her hands, and led*** her to the bar.

    *Had to use then because there is nothing in between the two action sentences. It would be nice to see her reaction to his dancing, or dialogue from one of them to break up the silence.
    **Took hold of sounds a little gentler and less urgent than grabbed. you could use a modifier, too: he gently wrapped his hands around hers.
    ***If you want to keep the bit about him walking backwards, mention his eyes never leaving hers, or something like that. I chose led because it tells us that he is still holding onto her hands; just grabbing her hands and walking backwards sounds like if you described hugging another and walking backwards. Are you still hugging them or not? Who knows.

    2. 'He drifted off for a moment then turned back to her, “I heard blah is blah."'

    That needs to be broken up. I don't know whose viewpoint it is, but something needs to happen between the drifting and the talking. If it is the man's, then he can think or dream, open his eyes, and finally face her again. if the drifting is important at all, that is.

    3. 'Bob turned to the now slightly flushed and gawping young man. “Have some respect Jim.”'

    I'd take out slightly. words like almost and seemingly dull the narrative. I like that you referred to jim as the young man, things like that really break up monotony.

    4. 'Apprehensive, he walked tentatively into the room and looked down at her.'

    apprehensive is not needed when you have tentatively. also, tentatively should go before the walked verb: He tentatively walked into the room.

    5. 'It dawned on her that she now felt very alone and her face dropped as she walked in.'

    She walked* in. Her face dropped** when she saw the room*** and realized how alone she really was.

    I put walked in first*, just so the action is first. Then we get her reaction** and add a reason***, just to ensure that they are related.

    6. 'They walked a small distance to an opening that looked over the warehouse.'

    They walked a short* distance until they found** an opening that overlooked*** the warehouse.

    *What Fitzroy said.
    **It's weird, I know. some may call it superfluous, but until they found is needed just like then was is Sentence 1. It's a way to separate this and that combos.
    ***I swapped looked and over around. It's kind of like a shotgun wedding, but with words.

    It sounds like your story has a lot of character, keep writing! I recommend meeting the requirements (listed here) of the workshop, then posting an excerpt of your work. It's a give and take thing, not many people are charitable enough to put that kind of time in, unless you offer your opinion for their work as well;).
     
  8. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    That's my two cents..
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    > 1. 'Turning to her, Bob started bouncing to the music, grabbed her
    > hands, and walked backwards towards the bar.'

    My problem with this sentence is that when you start a sentence with "Verbing, he..." that communicates that the character is verbing through the whole rest of the sentence. That is, I believe that you're technically saying that through the whole time that Bob bounces, grabs her hands, and walks toward the bar, he's turning. If you want him to be simultaneously bouncing and turning, it could be:

    Turning, Bob started bouncing to the music. He grabbed her hands...

    I would prefer, though:

    Bouncing to the music, Bob turned and grabbed her hands, then danced backward toward the bar...

    He can bounce through all of those actions, but he can't turn through all of them.

    On the other hand, if you don't want so much turning, you could just leave it out in many cases, and the reader will just fill it in:

    Bob started bouncing to the music. He smiled at her, grabbed her hands, and danced backward to the bar.

    Unless you've made a really big point of Bob looking in some other direction, the "smiled at her" makes it clear that he has turned toward her.

    > 2. 'He drifted off for a moment then turned back to her, “I heard blah
    > is blah."'

    He drifted off for a moment. Then, "I heard blah is blah."

    Again, he's speaking to her, so we can assume that he turned to her.

    > 3. 'Bob turned to the now slightly flushed and gawping young man.
    > “Have some respect Jim.”'

    Bob frowned at the now slightly flushed and gawping young man. "Have some respect, Jim."

    Speaking to him, frowning at him, we can assume that he's turned toward him.

    > 4. 'Apprehensive, he walked tentatively into the room and looked down
    > at her.'

    He entered the room, his manner tentative, and looked down at her.

    He took a nervous breath and approached her. Looking down at her, he said, "Blah."

    He hurried to the couch and looked down at her, then reached to shake her shoulder. "Wake up!"

    He searched the house, opening doors, slamming doors, in his desperation even checking closets. Where was she? Finally, he heard a snore from the other side of the high-backed couch, and there she was. He reached to shake her shoulder. "Hey."


    "there she was" gets him near the couch, and IMO the "reached to shake" allows the reader to comfortably assume that he got all the way there.

    > 5. 'It dawned on her that she now felt very alone and her face dropped
    > as she walked in.'

    She felt very alone, her gaze on her feet as she walked into the restaurant.

    Here I keep 'walked' because we're using it for more than just a way to transition the action from place to place.

    Not that there's anything wrong with a perfectly good verb like 'walked.' But it's possible that 131 may be overkill.

    > 6. 'They walked a small distance to an opening that looked over the
    > warehouse.'

    And this is another place where 'walked' seems like the right verb, and trying to replace it would seem awkward--at least, assuming that the "small distance" is a city block or two, rather than a few feet. If it's just across the room, I might go with

    They moved to the opening that overlooked....

    > Not sure if I'm just being paranoid, but there's a limit to what a
    > thesaurus can suggest for the act of walking and turning,

    And a thesaurus won't help the problem. You don't want to find a bunch of exact synonyms for walking or turning. Instead, you want to find a way to stop needing to specifically communicate the idea, and instead, many times, just allow the reader to assume it.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think certain over used phrases do get noticed. I recently finished a romance genre whose characters raised one or both eyebrows way too many times. And 50 Shades is infamous for how many times Ana bites her lip and Christian's long fingers are noted. It really depends on how it reads. Someone needs to read it (like a beta reader) without being tipped off and see if they notice it. I don't think an author who has read the story over and over, or who is conscious of using one term a bit too often would be able to tell.

    I'd ask yourself, why are these people always turning/walking. Okon has some good suggestions. I think you may be relying on a limited repertoire and you need to expand it. A thesaurus helps but I think this is one of those places where "show, don't tell" can be a useful guideline. Think of other ways the action can be revealed without directly stating it.


    1. 'Turning to her, Bob started bouncing to the music, grabbed her hands, and walked backwards towards the bar.'

    Bob twirled (or whirled) around and with his movements matching the beat he grabbed her hands, pulling her with him back toward the bar.

    2. 'He drifted off for a moment then turned back to her, “I heard blah is blah."'

    I'm not getting the picture of what this one means so this example may be way off base but you should still get the idea: His thoughts drifted momentarily then her face came back into focus.

    3. 'Bob turned to the now slightly flushed and gawping young man. “Have some respect Jim.”'

    Bob confronted the young man, "Have some respect, Jim". [You might want to drop 'slightly', it's a filter word. }

    4. 'Apprehensive, he walked tentatively into the room and looked down at her.'

    Apprehensive he forced himself to enter the room.

    5. 'It dawned on her that she now felt very alone and her face dropped as she walked in.'

    Despite the room full of people, loneliness washed over her.

    6. 'They walked a small distance to an opening that looked over the warehouse.'

    It took less than a minute to to reach the opening.


    The idea is to find other ways to reveal the characters and the scene besides just telling the reader. I'm no expert at this by any means. There are people on the forum like @ChickenFreak who at the drop of a hat can produce elegant sentences that put mine to shame. :)
     
  11. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Gerund’s in general, are weaker than the verb form, so if you can state it as, “He turned to her and…” it’s stronger.

    So: “He turned to her and took her hands. Then, moving to the music, he began backing toward the bar, drawing her with him.”

    I changed grabbing to took because it doesn’t imply violence. And I changed bouncing to moving to allow the reader to fill in the kind of movement they might make. And finally, I changed walking backward to backing because he’s dancing, not walking, and backing says in one word what needed two in the original version.

    See how it becomes stronger? I’ve broken it into individual ticks of the scene clock to give the sense of time passing, in the protagonist’s POV, instead of simply describing that happened in the scene the reader can’t actually see.

    • He drifted off for a moment then turned back to her, “I heard blah is blah

    The problem here is that we don’t know what woke him. Everything we do in life is in response to some stimulus. If he was asleep he can’t know how long he was asleep, so if we’re in his POV we have to know the events as he experiences them, not as you, the outside observer, view them. Reality is measured in clock ticks, not an overview. So every time you sum up events you’re breaking POV, and realism. So when you find yourself explaining, go back and get into the protagonist’s head and ask yourself why s/he was motivated to act, then make the reader a part of that, so they can feel they’re experiencing, not just peering through a window (or worse yet, reading a report by someone who did). In his POV it might read as:

    “What?” He blinked himself awake and sat up before he said, “Sorry, I must have drifted off for a moment. What were you saying?”

    This one is easy. Delete the first sentence. It only slows the narrative. A reader doesn’t know what slightly flushed means. “Slightly,” is indeterminate, like “some.” And since Bob talks to the man it’s implied that he turned to face him. And even if he didn’t, does it really matter? Don’t try to play the camera because only you can see the scene. Were it on film his expression and body attitude would tell us lots. But we get none of it via the printed word, so trying to list the events we can’t see, and which aren’t critical to the action, only slows the narrative.

    Only if his flush it matters to Bob, and influences his actions should you mention it, if you’re in his POV.

    Again, you’re thinking cinematically and reporting events and appearance. But if he’s apprehensive, it follows that he’s a bit tentative, so no need to mention it. And unless you tell the reader what he sees when he looked down there’s no reason to mention looking. In his POV he notices something, focuses on it, internalizes and decides what to do, and then acts. And the act, be it a line of dialog, doing something physical, or deciding to do/say nothing, will probably define what will next have his attention. It’s how you and I live our lives. And if we’re truly in his POV it’s how he must live his.

    As described the face dropping is not the result of the realization, it’s concurrent. Why not phrase it in her POV as:

    “As she walked in it dawned on her that she was very much alone.”

    First. “felt” is weak. No one has to discover a feeling they already have. If that’s how she feels it’s her reality, so express it as such. I deleted her face falling off because it’s inherent to the mood. And, if we’re in her POV she can’t see it dropping.

    “Small,” again, is indeterminate. And no one cares how far they walked, given that nothing happened while getting there.
    - - - - - - - -

    I know I took a club to what you posted, and I’m sorry for that. But what I had to say reflects not at all on your skill or potential as a writer. Everything I had to say was a matter of craft and POV, the learned part of writing fiction for the printed word.
     
    Want2Write and GingerCoffee like this.
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...the problem is more in how you used them, than in how often... as a longtime editor and a writing mentor, i often see 'turned/turning' misused by new/newish writers... and 'walked' being used to boring excess, depite there being so many more interesting alternatives... that's what you've done in the examples below...

    ...the other major problem with both words is that they're usually not needed at all, but are part of what i call 'bibo' writing [as in 'breathe in/ breathe out']... that is, boring the reader to the point of pain, by micromanaging a character's every single physical movement...

    ...i'll explain why/how under each one and then offer one just one of the many ways it could have been worded more effectively, using alternative word choices, or doing away with the bibo word altogether:

    ...here, by using 'turning' to start the sentence, you're saying all that follows is being done while he turns, which is physically impossible...

    The music set Bob swaying to the beat. He grabbed her by the hands and pulled her after him, heading for the bar.

    ...there was no need to tell us his every physical movement, or exactly how he was going from one place to the next... and cramming in such extraneous detail only takes the reader away from the important stuff that's going on... in this case, that the music made him want to dance with her...

    ...'turned' et al. is being used as a dialog tag intro, which makes no sense, since 1. it's narrative... 2. there's no verb relating to speech and 3. because the narrative is about a character other than the one doing the speaking, so the dialog should have started a new paragraph...

    His attention wandered for a bit, then returned to what she was saying.

    "I heard blah is blah."

    ...if the previous sentences had not made it clear to readers that bob had been turned away from jim till now, there were many ways you could have avoided overusing 'turned'... such as:

    Bob faced the now slightly flushed and gawping young man. “Have some respect Jim.”

    ...'tentatively' is a poor choice for qualifying 'walked' as you seem to mean 'hesitantly'... but neither is necessary any more than 'walked' is, to show his apprehension... and neither is 'apprehensive' which is telling, not showing, as well as more than a tad redundant... fewer, more carefully chosen words could do the trick more effectively:

    He edged warily into the room and looked down at her.

    ...'as' is another too often abused/misused/overused little word... and i've no clue what you meant by nonsensical cliche 'her face dropped' so i'll have to just guess... also i don't see how it can 'dawn on' [another cliche] her that she 'felt' something... nor how 'very' can apply to the absolute 'alone':

    As she went in, the realization that she was alone hit hard, upending her smile.

    ...this is a case of 'a bit less would've been more' added to the boredom of yet another 'walked'...

    A few steps brought them to an opening overlooking the warehouse.

    ...that may well be, but there's no limit to a good writer's ability to find more viable alternatives than a verb switch... such as the ones i've provided above...

    ...that's often the sad result of thesaurus-diving... which is why i always advise new writers to lock theirs up till they don't need one...
    ...see last sentence above... aside from all the fitting and non-fitting alternatives a good thesaurus will offer, there's the option of hewing to that good old army advice, the 'K.I.S.S.!' principle and letting the readers fill in the gaps... here are just a few alternatives to 'walked':


    he sped along the barely discenible trail

    they ambled arm-in-arm

    she minced into the room

    I shuffled about the place in my slippers

    we strode through the swinging-door as if we owned the place


    ...instead of 'turned':


    he whirled around to face the threat

    their heads swiveled about as one

    she did a one-eighty and came after me

    I reversed direction and ran for my life

    we did an about face in unison and headed back


    hope this helps... love and hugs, maia
     
  13. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    Mammamaia hit it pretty much on the head, as she usually does.

    You're micromanaging your character's. Before you describe any act make certain you have the reason for their response. Why is the character asking someone to dance with him? Is it important to the story? Why is it important that he 'turns'? This isn't a screen play, and it's fair to assume perfect blocking. Less is more, and all that.

    Finally, if you find yourself using a word more often than you'd like try going without it for a while. I used to overuse the word "had", so I went through a story and edited every instance the word "had" appeared. I used contractions where I could, and restructured sentences where I couldn't. The "purging", as I like to call it, helped to clean up my writing and stopped me from using the word as a crutch. Now, four months later, I'm still a terrible writer, but I'm a terrible writer that doesn't use the word "had".

    Try this with "walking", "turning", or whatever other blocking verb you over use.

    Keep on keepin on, friend.
     

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