1. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Writing Laughter

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Chiv, Nov 15, 2014.

    We all love to laugh, yet we all laugh so differently.
    The word 'laugh' has a lot of synonyms: chuckle, chortle, guffaw, giggle, titter, snigger, snicker, cackle, howl, roar, and tee-hee -- being only a few.
    Yet they all have their own connotations, and imply a different kind of laughter. To me at least, none other than "laugh" describe the good old laugh we use every day. But isn't that a bit dry? A bit un-descriptive? Sure, you can chuck an adverb onto the end of it, but isn't the road to hell paved with adverbs? "She laughed joyfully". Eh.

    I have characters that laugh a lot. Because that's what most people do, they laugh a lot. I mean, it's not over the top, every sentence or even scene or anything. Just, a lot.
    But I feel like I am using the word "laughed" too much, but I am yet to find an alternative that implies the same thing as that casual laugh. Not to mention that everyone's laugh is different. Saying "he/she laughed" doesn't convey how they laugh at all.
     
  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Has anyone else complained about overuse of the word "laugh" in your writing?
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The "good old laugh we use every day" is not the same each time, each day. Look at why your characters are laughing, where they are, who they are with - and then take a closer look at the definitions of those synonyms.
     
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  4. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Not really. It's just something that I notice. Maybe it's nothing and I'm not overusing it. I'll see what my beta readers say when they get back to me.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You could always add how they grip their ribs, their face flushing, they're doubled over and can't breathe because they're laughing so hard.
     
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  6. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I know just what you mean. I came across this in my own writing too as there are so many times that a laugh can mean different emotions. On a personal level, I giggle when I'm nervous but like you, I was always left wondering if I was using the right laugh for whatever emotion my character was feeling at the time.

    I have used the terms belly laugh and guffaw if a character found something really funny but I have also used quiet chuckle/smiled to themselves for more of a happy emotional feel type thing.

    Then there's the choked on his laughter for surprise and snorted his derision for a sarcastic or 'whatever' type of laugh.

    Hope this helps.
    x
     
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  7. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    'I'm going to rip out your eyes,' he chuckled.
    She faced him, his teeth dripped blood.
    'Keep your hands off of me, you child-molester,' she tittered. Both now stood inches from the cliff edge.
    'and then I shall chop you into tiny pieces,' he said, and sniggered into his palm.
    She laughed and plunged the dagger through his windpipe.
    'That really hurt,' he giggled.
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think context helps determine picking a different choice. Like Cutecat, I tend to think of giggling as either schoolgirlish or nervousness, or lack of control - which is why I always seem to see it paired with - tried to control her giggles. I have a hard time imagining a man giggling. Unless he's an oddball or drunk. Snicker & snigger always seems slightly derisive. Like - Angela snickered when Meggie tripped in her new pair of high heels. Guffaw is like one of those laughs that come out of nowhere - but big and brash and slightly obnoxious. Like - Lindsay guffawed over jokes that only rated a chuckle.

    I wouldn't switch up the words unless context leans towards the shift, or it will just look like you're trying to add variety without really examining what the words mean and mean to you.
     
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  9. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I tend to favour chuckle for a male version of a small laugh, almost like a laugh that you would make at a bad joke that's bad, but still makes you laugh. One of those laugh, close your eyes and shake your head kind of chuckles.
     
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