1. BEyre
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    BEyre Member

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    What is a better way to write this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BEyre, Apr 8, 2011.

    No matter how I set things up, I end up at the same problem to write a certain sentence.

    The victim is doing a mundane task in some setting. Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. Suddenly, he is hit over the head.

    The victim is doing a mundane task in some setting. Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. Without warning, he is hit over the head.

    Basically, the victim is suddenly attacked from behind, in the dark, and is knocked unconscious. In what other way can this type of sentence be written without the cliches of "suddenly", "without warning", etc?

    This sort of situation will happen often in the book ... the calm before the storm type thing ... so I will have to know alternative ways to avoid these cliches, but yet convey the same thing.

    Help! :confused:
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Abruptly, Unexpectedly, surprisingly, shockingly, All of a sudden, Out of the blue, etc.

    You need a thesarus :D

    Also there are other ways to ways to write it, try coming at it from a different angle, or thought process.

    Such as mundane task... yada yada yada yada he bent over to examine a spot on the floor and there was a piercing pain in his temple as everything quickly faded to black.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    White hot pain exploded from the back of his skull.

    <end of chapter or section>

    No nasty adverb needed.
     
  4. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Nothing delays an action like a word trying to explain how the action wasn't delayed! Just give the action. If it's sudden, then it will be suddenly.

    Same goes with interrupting dialog. Instead of stating there was an interruption, just interrupt it and the reader will understand.

    It really is amazing how simple writing fiction can be at times. ;)
     
  5. MLKerrick
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    MLKerrick Member

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    He picked up an object from the mantlepiece, heard a step from behind, and was cast into darkness.

    Or something. I like to leave the reader guessing as to what exactly happened, and then explaining it later on in the story. If the victim is your main character, have him wake up with a throbbing ache in the back of his head, which implies that he was hit with something.
     
  6. BEyre
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    BEyre Member

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    You guys are a godsend. As soon as I started reading your examples, I face-palmed "Duh!". :rolleyes: I swear, I think there are days were my head isn't screwed on tightly enough.

    My final result (well, as final as first drafts goes) ...

     
  7. popsicledeath
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    Can kill 'abruptly' as giving that action directly makes it more abrupt. ;)
     
  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    seconds that :)
     
  9. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    If it were me, I'd just stop in the middle of a sentence as if--

    Just like that. Dialogue, narrative, doesn't matter. Ending in the middle of a sentence like that indicates that something happens, quite suddenly, to interrupt the character's action or train of thought. I'd say that being smitten upon the head and rendered unconscious fits that category. I think it's more realistic that way. Certainly, if I were to be sneak attacked, my attacker wouldn't have the courtesy to wait until I finished a complete thought.

    Though I'd certainly give some indication of why I stopped in the middle of the sentence, like in the examples given above (or perhaps on the previous page, if we're that far into the thread already). Cutting off a sentence and leaving it just at that would be fairly confusing to a reader.
     
  10. BEyre
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    BEyre Member

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    So, lurching implies abrupt? Yup, I see it .......... now.

    Thank you for catching these little things even though this is only a first draft.

    Right now I'm just trying to plow through the murder without sounding staccato, mundane, etc. It's not just a simple he's doing something at his desk and then suddenly there is a knife in his back and he's dead.

    First he's knocked unconscious, then awakens to find himself suspended by his wrists and gagged, and then he's viciously beaten with a blunt object. The murderer says a few things to him to let him know why he is going to die (but nothing is said in such a way as to give away the sex of the assailant or other clues) and then slits his wrists so he'll slowly bleed to death. Whew!

    And that's the first 3 pages of the book. :D
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. Adverbs will sneak up and bash your writing into a coma if you are unwary.

    Also, watch your POV. Until the last sentence, you have a firm grip on Andrew's perspective. But the last sentence jumps to an invisible observer in the room. Better to have him waking to a throbbing skull, nausea, and confusion in the next scene. He has suffered a concussive blow to the skull, and will have after effects. One of these can be some amnesia - often, someone who has suffered a head injury will have no memory of the accident or the last few minutes leading up to it; and sometimes that memory loss is permanent.

    In any case, though, from the moment his head is struck, he is not in any condition to be aware that he is falling to the floor or losing consciousness.
     
  12. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Well, I have to say I'm really glad I'm not him :)
     
  13. BEyre
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    BEyre Member

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    Ahh ... so something akin to:

    Trish - you got that right! But talk about just desserts really since this creep engaged in similar stuff on the same woman (lots of BDSM related stuffs).

    Cogito - I think I am ahead of you on the Andrew waking part in the next scene ... it's in his perspective, just like before.

    Speaking of POV .... it seems, subconsciously, I have started this story in the present tense and from the character's perspective. As the book progresses, there will be many characters talking and doing (just like a tv show) - is the POV and tense still feasible .... the POV is always focused on the character of the moment?

    I want the book to read as if you are watching the show version - everything is happening in the here and now ... not in the past. You get each character's perspective as "the spotlight" falls on them during each scene.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Be carefull of that. I call it a "popcorn POV", because it's like watching a movie. It's passive observation, and doesn't involve the reader in the action the same way that binding the reader to one POV for each scene.

    This may help: What's Your Point (of View)?
     
  15. KillianRussell
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    Quote:
    The desk lamp flickers a few times and then dies, leaving the office in inky dark. Andrew mutters a few choice words, fumbling in a desk drawer for that flashlight that may or may not exist. The world abruptly lurches as something connects with the back of his skull. He slides to the floor and into unconsciousness.
    Had he not muttered would have corrected the popcorn pov ?


    my mistake i read again...duh...
     
  16. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    So and so bent down to get a closer look at the poster and felt his head nearly crack open. His head spun a mile a minute from the sudden impact. Then...darkness...
     
  17. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I would say no. That just sounds confusing. Surely the character experienced something, and the world didn't just stop existing.

    So, from the following:

    if you were going to just cut it off, I'd say cut it off after 'skull' which, oh, is a completed sentence and you don't have to do the -- thing! ;)

    I don't think the em dash works well in such situations, usually, as even if the character is being knocked unconscious there is still some completed action.

    And the last sentence is weak, also, which is why I could consider just cutting it. It makes more sense that the scene ends with the last thing the character experience, which could plausibly be the world lurching and the realization/fact/sensation of something striking the back of his head.

    Having been knocked out before, I can assure you it didn't resemble anything even remotely translated to 'sliding into unconsciousness' which is almost peaceful. It was violent. I got hit, could almost SEE the thwack that I felt vibrating through my ears (it was as if it was one sensation registering in all senses at once, well, not smell, hah), and the thwack looked like light bursts. Then I was being helped off the ground.

    My advice, whichever description you decide, is that you do continue describing the character's experiences until they stop. When the character is no longer conscious, then the prose stops. And in my experience, keep in mind that actually sliding into consciousness isn't something experienced. You're awake, and then you're waking up.
     
  18. BEyre
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    BEyre Member

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    I am going to take a break for a bit and go over to the workshop to critique others work. I may pick up on something that will work for me. I also want to be able to post what I have thus far so everyone can see it in its full context.

    Thank you to everyone who has responded to this thread. You have truly been of tremendous help.
     
  19. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    'felt his head nearly crack open' is a bit weak, because it's referring to an experience instead of creating it. 'His head spun a mile a minute' is a bit of a cliche, and not very expressive either (I have no idea what that means in terms of an actual experience. Improper use of ellipses, though that doesn't mean it's not in published works all the time, and as my previous post mentions, the whole 'darkness' thing isn't actually how the experience of being knocked out occurs.

    Not that this is the review room, but still, this sort of thing is tough to write, so discussion will hopefully be helpful, in general.
     
  20. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Off topic, but still, you've never been whacked in the head and had that bright thwack, then blurred fuzzy vision, THEN kinda fade out? I've had both, so I'm just curious. I will agree though that there was no sliding anywhere (I was up, then I was down), and the fading was pretty dang rapid.
     
  21. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Okay. . .I just thought I'd type something here. I didn't realize I'd be critiqued. . . .
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about keeping it simple - I love writing present tense lol

    He lurches forward, pain explodes in the back of his head and he slumps forward onto the desk.
     
  23. Enerzeal
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    This was one of the things I learnt pretty quickly with writing, "and then" "suddenly" "all of a sudden" "then". I try and avoid including any of them if possible, always feels like a really weak way of connecting events.

    Also when someone is knocked out they generally don't feel any pain from the blow its self, they wake up a few minutes/seconds later with no clue of where they are, takes a few moments to acclimatize to the situation, then the pain strikes.

    So something like...

    The only warning he had was the shifting of air in the room as the door behind him was opened, he began to swivel his head round, but never got a chance to lay eyes upon his attacker, the world turned black.
     
  24. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Hrm, how about:

    In a time of antiquity, when the world was still black and white, as color had not yet been invented (especially in the world of a Private Dick), our controversial do-it-your-own-way hero, having been sneaking and snooping in his typical, mostly deft of ways, was assailed upon in a way without warning by an unnamed attacker. You see, dear reader, John, the attacker in question this day, had suddenly without any warning, in an instantaneous and immediate way, all of a sudden, brought a blunt object down with furious indignation upon the skull of our hero, who didn't feel the searing pain rip into the base of his skull, didn't hear the audible sound of the "thwack" ring out for all to hear, but did see himself brace against the mahogany-stained six foot long in length desk through which he had previously been rifling in his attempts to snoop, as Private Dicks are prone to do, and watched himself slip to the floor, his world in the process of fading to the darkest black of shadowy unconsciousness, as the unnamed assailant John slipped from the room unseen!
     
  25. BEyre
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    *grins* Thanks so much to you guys and gals for continuing this discussion well after I went on my date with the sandman. My eyes just couldn't stay open any longer. It's been a long week with 2 female cats in heat, trying to out-do each other with the catawalling. Oi! :(

    While this being the first draft I wasn't worried too much about the minute details of each scene, this focusing on just how one goes unconscious from a blow to the head does help me understand these things from the get-go.

    I have to do my day-job stuff right now (clients can't wait don't you know). So I will revisit that scene later on today utilizing the advice given.

    Funny thing, it seems I had little problems with tense and POV in high school English and British Lit classes and in college creative writing courses. But 15 years later, my brain is going "eh??". :rolleyes: hehehe
     

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