1. VRaptorX

    VRaptorX New Member

    Sep 13, 2012
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    Question about unothodox emotion signs.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by VRaptorX, Sep 13, 2012.

    You see, I want to make it so no matter who is talking, you know who it is. You just read the line and immediately know, "oh that is from ____ because he speaks like _____." One character talks in "thesaurus abuse"; if there is a 6 syllable word he can use instead of one, he will use it. Now when he is hurting, that stops and he talks normally.

    Another character is more deadened to it all. She is seemingly emotionless. Instead she has tattoos that change between lightning, skulls, flowers, etc depending on her mood, even if she doesn't show it.

    Is this stuff too subtle?
  2. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    i can't tell what it is you intend doing... will you actually include pictures of her tattoos, or what?

    and are you not going to use dialog tags at all, to identify the speaker?
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    I think what you're getting at is trying to establish a character's voice - to a certain extent, yes the reader should be able to tell who's whom by the way the character speaks. This doesn't mean you can eliminate all mentions of body language and emotions though and I do think it'd be a mistake to try and eliminate such things. It's all about balance.

    As for the tattoos - is your story a sci-fi or fantasy? Because tattoos are done by injecting ink pigments into your skin, I think (now I don't have a tattoo so I could be wrong) but whatever, tattoos cannot change, so unless you're set in a universe or century that allows for "shifting tattoos", this idea is too far-fetched. Now if you meant she gets a new tattoo every time her mood changes, well, that's just ridiculous and you'll certainly run out of space - heck your character will run out of time to be getting her new tattoos in between action scenes lol.

    But no, using a tattoo to hint at her emotions is not "too subtle" - in fact it could become far too blatant, I think that's much more likely, like plastering a sad smiley face on her forehead. But if done well, it sounds good, but nonetheless it doesn't mean you can just skip showing us her emotions all together. If every time she talks, you show the reader a new tattoo, trust me when I say your reader will start to zone out and dismiss the tattoo altogether. Only show these tattoos when they are particularly significant.
  4. Ettina

    Ettina Active Member

    Nov 21, 2011
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    The tattoos showing emotions was done quite entertainingly by Garth Nix in Keys to the Kingdom. A minor character in that series is a sorceror with two ships tattooed on his cheeks, and the ships change depending on how he feels. For example, at one point he got badly wounded, and once he's sort-of recovered, he tries to insist he's well enough to get back to work. Meanwhile, the ships were derelict hulks just barely staying afloat.

    I agree that it's not at all subtle, but it can be quite entertaining.

    With regards to the guy who abuses thesaurus words, I think it sounds very realistic for him to slip out of that when he's in pain. For example, although Steve Irwin did, indeed, have an Australian accent, he exaggerated it for his show. Once, when a mamba almost got him in the gonads, his accent suddenly got a lot more subtle.

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