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  1. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Trouble describing an action and a person

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Bakkerbaard, Apr 11, 2020.

    Sorry to post yet another thing, but this really is one I can't manage to google.
    I'm trying to describe the action of putting your thumb on the side of a number of pages, or a deck of cards, or a stack of money and letting them slip so they make that "prrrrt" sound.
    I've been staring at it for a about half an hour yesterday night (yesternight?), but I couldn't come up with anything better than "she raced through the pages".
    Which is dumb.

    One more thing. There are several occasions where I write something about a TV show host, called Ross Williams. Now, when a senior crew member mentions him, they'll call him Ross. They know eachother.
    My character calls him mister Williams. She works for a fickle man.
    When I describe him outside of dialogue I know I need to use mister Williams when it comes to things about him relating to my main character, for example: She knew mister Williams was waiting.
    However, when I say something about him to clarify to the reader I don't know which way to go. He's not Ross to us, we don't know him that well. Mister Williams seems way to formal. I've been using a few instances of just "Williams", but I'm bouncing back and forth between all three versions, which just looks like I can't make up my mind.
    So, if you understand anything of what I wrote here, what's the proper way to go about this?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Let's start with Mr. Williams first.

    I know full well that mister is the full form of Mr., but when used as a title of address with the person's name, we never, ever, ever write out mister. It's always abbreviated. We'll use mister when we're using the word as a replacement for a name, like:

    Listen here, mister. I don't know what's gotten into you, but you need to cut it out.

    Once you establish that Ross Williams and Mr. Williams are one and the same, you should be able to interchange them when needed. Whether you call him Ross or not has nothing to do with us, the readers, and should key solely off of the character's with whom he interacts. We, the readers, are not there as far as the characters in the story are concerned. We don't exist.

    As for the description of running one's thumb down the edge of a pack of playing cards or paper, that's an odd one.

    The edges of the cards purred past his thumb in a soft buzz...

    Maybe?
     
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  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Riffle.

    My advice is different from Wreybies. I would recommend you pick one and stick with it. "Williams" is the neutral one, not too formal and not too casual.
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Admin Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    i'd pick one and stick to it in exposition,in dialogue use whatever is appropriate to the character addressing him
     
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  5. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Are you a teacher? Because that sounded very teacher-y. ;o)
    And while I don't question the truth of it, it's also going to be the knowledge I'll have the most trouble with. I feckin' hate abbreviations. To me they suggest the writer couldn't even be arsed to type out a couple of letters. You can imagine the fun I have texting my 14 year old stepkid.
    Ugh, but still. If that's the way it's done... Damnit.

    Here's where I get confused. or perhaps, where I mess up. Let me grab an example.
    1. Kayleigh opened the door and mr. Williams turned around,
    He's mr. Williams to her, turning around to face her. That why I don't go with other variations.

    2. Williams grabbed the magazine and started peeling open the centerfold.
    Although Kayleigh is present during this, it is something I'm describing so the reader knows what's going on and to me, the readers are there.

    I think it may be moot at this point anyway, as I'm gonna review the passages with all this new information in mind.

    You know that feeling you get when you've been picking at a piece of food between your teeth and it comes loose after a few hours?
    That's what that word is doing for me right now. Thank you.

    Through your combined efforts I will probably be going with just Williams for exposition. Probably change it up as the characters grow more familiar.

    PS. I can't do it. I'm gonna mister 'em all and let the editor sort 'em out.
     
  6. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Abbreviation implies that it's up to you whether to shorten it or not. In this case, the shortened version is the only correct form. And, not to niggle, but "Mr." should always be capitalized.

    Also, and this is just my opinion, "Mr. Williams" doesn't sound too formal to me.
     
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  7. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    I think my aversion might be a local thing. I'm doing this off the top of my head, but if I'm not mistaken "Mr." in Dutch is also short for ehm... How do I explain this... It's short for lawyer. As in meester in de rechten, shoddily translated to "master of laws".

    No, wait, I looked it up anyway. I'm right, but the lawyer version does not use a capital M, so I'm really just squirming for an excuse to not use the abbreviation, but it's like trying to cross a freeway. I'm gonna have to accept I'll get hit at some point.
     
  8. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    :-D
    I love Dutch.
     
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  9. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Eh, you get used to it. ;o)
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Don't call him "Mister" or "Mr." in narration. Unless "Mr." is part of his name (for example, he's a cat called "Mr. Mistofelees") or every character only knows and refers to him as Mr. Williams, that would really grate with me as a reader.
     
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  11. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I've been looking at it in between writing other bits. Whether use 'mister', 'mr.' or 'Mr.', something keeps being off about the whole thing.
    One option that briefly seemed viable was to just keep writing it out in full. Ross Williams did a thing. Later Ross Williams turned to her. She watched as Ross Williams did his thing.
    Seems kind of a TV-hosty thing to do.
    Yet, this option is merely the least stupid looking, but not really a good one yet either. I might just let it simmer for a while, go back over it when it's not in the front of my mind anymore.
     
  12. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    What's the problem?

    Formal dialogue: "Hey, Mr Williams."
    Informal dialogue: "Hey, Ross."
    All references in narration: Williams
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
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  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    I don't understand why you're rejecting just "Williams". I don't know about Dutch, but in English writing, that is the most natural way to refer to a character in narration. You would use Ross if you're writing in close third person, from the point of view of someone who knows him well, or if you're trying to build a sense of familiarity with the characters, or perhaps if you're writing YA fiction.
     
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  14. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    I've noticed an increase around me of people addressing others by their surname.
    So I'm not neccessarily rejecting it, I'm just really slow to adjust to it, but it's looking like this is the way it's going to be.
     
  15. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    The way you address people in speaking is not the same way you write in narration.
     
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  16. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    I know. everything said so far makes sense and I understand it.
    It's just that I'm working against myself here. But it's rude to call someone by their last name. This character wouldn't call him Williams, why should I? How would Ross feel if nobody ever called him by his first name.
    Honestly, I should have registered at a psychological forum more than a writing forum, but I'd still be struggling with punctuation.
     
  17. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    If you mean that you're not going to use Mr. with a capital M, then you're just writing it wrong. It's not really a matter of preference. That's like saying "I'm only going to write "teh," and the editor can sort out whether it should be "the."
     
  18. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    No, I meant writing out 'mister' in full. Right now I'm just not looking at it anymore and I'll see what I start typing the next time a similar situation comes up.
    It's probably 'Mr.'. Even though I want to, I probably can't knowingly make myself leave the wrong ones in.

    As for 'teh', yeah. Google Docs is pretty good at covering my ass, but it's always fun reading 'teh', 'tehe' and sometimes just the Dutch 'de' in writings from the time that spell checkers were a beautiful fantasy.
     

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