Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby morshana » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:42 pm

AMcCarter wrote:From conversations I've had, I know there have been a few times when K.D. pegged a finalist from the get go. I would love to be in that pile.


Yeah... =)
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Dustin Adams » Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:30 am

From conversations I've had, I know there have been a few times when K.D. pegged a finalist from the get go. I would love to be in that pile.


I've felt this way myself when reading the anthos. Sometimes I don't see what she and the judges saw in a story, but others I can tell one paragraph in that I'm going to love the story.

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby s_c_baker » Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:58 pm

That's the way it *should* go, for sure.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby morshana » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:22 pm

People do have different tastes, though. =)
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby s_c_baker » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:18 pm

morshana wrote:People do have different tastes, though. =)

They do indeed--the fools. wotf007
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby WriteToLive » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:41 am

Yes, just like how she wants the word "said" and the flat language. It could be what's been eating at my works for some time with her...and why I'm not getting any HM's.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:07 am

WriteToLive wrote:Yes, just like how she wants the word "said" and the flat language. It could be what's been eating at my works for some time with her...and why I'm not getting any HM's.


I may have the same issue, as my latest two have been period pieces with a bit more baroque sensibilities. That said, i don't think it is really "flat" language that KD has expressed a preference for, but language that is first and foremost always in service of the story. If a metaphor draws too much attention to itself, there is potential that it could pull the reader out of the story it was employed to tell.

As for adverbs, another thing KD (and nearly anyone who leads a workshop, writes a how-to-write book, or edits professional writing) warns writers to limit the use of, there are certainly times and places where an adverb is just the thing to convey what you want, but sometimes we get into the habit of qualifying every verb with an adverb to tell the reader how whatever was said was said, or how whatever happened happened. The English language is full of great verbs that can do that on their own--it just seems that writers are sometimes better at coming up with adverbs than with verbs.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby MJNL » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:17 am

WriteToLive wrote:Yes, just like how she wants the word "said" and the flat language. It could be what's been eating at my works for some time with her...and why I'm not getting any HM's.


Well, that's a little insulting to those of us who've done alright in the contest. That's like saying she's only looking for boring stories. No editor looks for flat and boring. Like Patrick said, I think it has more to do with story above language, or "invisible" writing. There's nothing wrong with invisible, just like there's nothing wrong with colorful, if it really serves the overall story and gains your desired effect. Now, if KD doesn't feel colorful is the most approachable, or if she just prefers language that doesn't draw attention to itself, yes, then more prose-driven works probably won't make it past her. But that doesn't mean she's looking for things that aren't artfully written.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:50 pm

MJNL wrote:
WriteToLive wrote:Yes, just like how she wants the word "said" and the flat language. It could be what's been eating at my works for some time with her...and why I'm not getting any HM's.


Well, that's a little insulting to those of us who've done alright in the contest. That's like saying she's only looking for boring stories. No editor looks for flat and boring.


Eh. I didn't take it that way. "Flat" is not a value judgment to me, it's just a way to describe a style: flat vs. layered or elaborate. Yes, some people may add value judgments to those terms; but I didn't presume that in WriteToLive's remark.

I actually prefer flat, in general. That's just my preference.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby gwasch » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:22 pm

Just some... observations/POV while I procrastinate I guess. o.o

I resisted the 'said' thing a lot but these days I default to it. Comparing an old draft of mine, some dialogue followed by 'so and so exhaled.' And then I realized how absurd that was, after trying to exhale and speak at the same time. o0 Even if it works it's unnecessarily confusing. . .

Sometimes a clever trick is to shove the sounds before the dialogue. Like 'Frank groaned. "Really..."' And just omit the speech tag altogether! You can substitute expressions/sounds/gestures to animate the character instead of melding it with the dialogue or something.

As for adverbs, I haven't ever read a professionally published novel that didn't have at least a sprinkled layer of the things. Just, when other words can't exactly convey, or when dodging them becomes awkward, or BECAUSE you want to slow the pace of a scene a tiny bit. . . but having like even three in the same vicinity starts to become distracting.

But hell, I hate the exclamation rule. One per story? 100 pages? Career? I have a scene in a non-contest story that involves several characters coordinating an escape of a collapsing structure. And even with restraint there are a few moments that just require some FRANTIC YELLING. How do you deal with that, I ask!?

... frick. Frick now I can't yell for another year. Great. :\

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:53 pm

gwasch wrote:Just some... observations/POV while I procrastinate I guess.

I hate the exclamation rule. One per story? 100 pages? Career? I have a scene in a non-contest story that involves several characters coordinating an escape of a collapsing structure. And even with restraint there are a few moments that just require some FRANTIC YELLING. How do you deal with that, I ask!?

... frick. Frick now I can't yell for another year. Great. :\


I always interpreted that as exclamation points outside of dialogue. That is, it is okay for the characters to yell and be excited, but when the narrative voice starts using them, if feels like it is trying to force the reader's emotions.

Consider:

"It's another frickin' monster!" Gus shouted, pulling at her arm.

Vs.

Suddenly Gus pulled at her arm. It was another monster!
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:10 pm

Patrick S. McGinnity wrote:Consider:

"It's another frickin' monster!" Gus shouted, pulling at her arm.

Vs.

Suddenly Gus pulled at her arm. It was another monster!


NICE example, Teach! Really makes your point. Unless the text were very much in the voice of Gus, I could never write the latter one.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Strycher » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:35 am

gwasch wrote:Sometimes a clever trick is to shove the sounds before the dialogue. Like 'Frank groaned. "Really..."' And just omit the speech tag altogether! You can substitute expressions/sounds/gestures to animate the character instead of melding it with the dialogue or something.


This has become my tactic. And when I think that what the character is doing obvious, I only include speech tags every third or fourth exchange so as to avoid confusion.

"Yes," she said.
"I don't think so," he answered.
"You're wrong," she said.
"You're face is wrong," he said.
"My what?" She asked.


Is really boring. That can't be what editors are asking for, but it's kind of what it sounds like they're asking for.

Though I do understand that snarled, chortled, giggled, etc are a little ridiculous. What do you guys think what hissed? I want to keep using that one . . .

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Grayson Morris » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:06 am

I think this:

* Omit dialog tags whenever it's clear who's speaking.
* "Said" will cover most situations when clarification of who's speaking is required.
* Judicious use of some other tags can really enrich a text, but it's always worth seeing if you can convey the same flavor/feel another way. ("Asked" is the only one I think "said" just can't replace.)

I think similarly about adverbs, and especially the no-no words such as "suddenly." Look, sometimes something really does happen "suddenly." It's a good word. That's why the language has it. Your characters can't go around "suddenly" doing and realizing stuff all through the story, but once in a great while, that's exactly the word you need, and there's no better way to impart exactly what you mean.

My stories tend to have a lot of adverbs on first draft, largely as placeholders for me for what I'm trying to convey. (Bob said bitterly) In later drafts, I always try to replace that with a gesture, or different wording, to get the mood across. (Bob wouldn't look at me.) But sometimes, sometimes, an adverb is the most elegant way to get something across. That's why the language has them.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby george nik. » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:13 am

I'm with Patrick on exclamation marks. I think they are OK on dialogue, exercising some restraint of course. You can't show someone yelling without an exclamation mark.

I never EVER use them outside dialogue, though. I really hate them. In my capacity as slush editor or contest judge, in fact, whenever I see exclamation marks in a story I usually put it down and stop reading.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby MedicalAuthor » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:47 am

Strycher wrote:
gwasch wrote:Sometimes a clever trick is to shove the sounds before the dialogue. Like 'Frank groaned. "Really..."' And just omit the speech tag altogether! You can substitute expressions/sounds/gestures to animate the character instead of melding it with the dialogue or something.


This has become my tactic. And when I think that what the character is doing obvious, I only include speech tags every third or fourth exchange so as to avoid confusion.

"Yes," she said.
"I don't think so," he answered.
"You're wrong," she said.
"You're face is wrong," he said.
"My what?" She asked.


Is really boring. That can't be what editors are asking for, but it's kind of what it sounds like they're asking for.

Though I do understand that snarled, chortled, giggled, etc are a little ridiculous. What do you guys think what hissed? I want to keep using that one . . .


To play the devil's advocate, I don't think that block of text is boring because of the dialogue is boring because of the tags. I think if you replaced it with other tags, it would be just as boring, plus read weirdly.

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby E.CaimanSands » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:56 am

Strycher wrote:


Though I do understand that snarled, chortled, giggled, etc are a little ridiculous. What do you guys think what hissed? I want to keep using that one . . .


Hmm disappointingly I've never used hissed. I searched my humorous flash piece about a pair of alligators in vain. wotf017
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:13 am

As far as dialogue tags, I know "said, said, said" is boring, so I try to minimize the tags, too. One of the best bits of advice on tags I've read is to try to read your dialogue out loud, using the tags as actor's notes. If character 1 hisses his line, then hiss it and see how real it sounds to your ear. If character 2 chortles, try that. Chances are it will sound overacted in many cases.

Ideally what each person actually says will be particular enough to him or her that only a few tags will be necessary. I often use a bit of business or actual action to clear up confusion if necessary. Internal stuff from a POV character can do the same thing, with the added benefit of adding a layer of characterization, as we don't always (or even often) say exactly what we feel or think.

"Yes," Gwen looked down. Why could he always tell when she was hiding something?
"I don't think so."
"You're wrong," she said, shouldering her pack.
"You're face is wrong."
"My what?" She'd had enough. It was past time for her to be on her way.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby gwasch » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:39 am

This might be completely useless, but, I read in that nebulous 'somewhere' that in the most cases where people are reading quietly, 'said' ends up an 'invisible' tag most of the time. Because they're so used to seeing it, it's sort of literary white noise. Unobtrusive.

But, yes, if there's a LOT of dialogue, you really only need to throw it in there when it's not obvious who is speaking next.

I think for hissed it really depends on the dialogue. If you hiss by itself, it just makes your character make weird sounds. Whereas people tend to chortle independently of saying something.

"We'll see," hissed Joey, implying that the next time cotton candy was involved, there would be no survivors.

vs.

"Have a great balloon ride Missus McConally," hissed Natalie.

.... actually scratch that both of those are pretty wicked. And I need to get my head out of the carnivalesque.

As for the ! issue, that's pretty comforting. <3

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby gower21 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:37 am

Thread derailment. Excellent!

My opinion on tags are: if you're using them then you're missing an opportunity to do something better. Either to leave the dialog alone, because you've done a wonderful job of creating tension or emotion without the tag, or you've missed an opportunity to front load the dialog with body language instead. We communicate in real life with body language more than our words. Here's where I'd go if your not sure what body language goes with what emotions:

http://center-for-nonverbal-studies.org/6101.html

(scroll down to see the categories)

Also I can't resist posting this that Kary posted on Facebook:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opini ... 2&src=recg

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Rebecca Birch » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:51 am

Strycher wrote:Though I do understand that snarled, chortled, giggled, etc are a little ridiculous. What do you guys think what hissed? I want to keep using that one . . .


The thing about 'hissed' is you'd better make sure there's a lot of 's's involved in the line that's being hissed, otherwise it doesn't make much sense. At least, that's how I've come to think of it.

I'm a big proponent of using action instead of dialogue tags. On the other hand, I have a tendency to write dense, and if I were to just go with a few 'said's now and then, that might cut back on my excess verbiage.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby george nik. » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:13 am

MedicalAuthor wrote:
Strycher wrote:
gwasch wrote:Sometimes a clever trick is to shove the sounds before the dialogue. Like 'Frank groaned. "Really..."' And just omit the speech tag altogether! You can substitute expressions/sounds/gestures to animate the character instead of melding it with the dialogue or something.


This has become my tactic. And when I think that what the character is doing obvious, I only include speech tags every third or fourth exchange so as to avoid confusion.

"Yes," she said.
"I don't think so," he answered.
"You're wrong," she said.
"You're face is wrong," he said.
"My what?" She asked.


Is really boring. That can't be what editors are asking for, but it's kind of what it sounds like they're asking for.

Though I do understand that snarled, chortled, giggled, etc are a little ridiculous. What do you guys think what hissed? I want to keep using that one . . .


To play the devil's advocate, I don't think that block of text is boring because of the dialogue is boring because of the tags. I think if you replaced it with other tags, it would be just as boring, plus read weirdly.


Just to experiment...
"Yes," she hissed.
"I don't think so," he snarled.
"You're wrong," she chortled.
"You're face is wrong," he giggled.
"My what?" She groaned.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Alex Kane » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:26 am

Anyone seen the BBC contemporary adaptation of Taming of the Shrew? Shirley Henderson hisses every line she has in the whole film. It's terrifying. But of course there's no need for dialogue tags in a TV film script.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby gower21 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:33 am

And there shall be no hissing in fiction!

(taken from the commandments of writing--brought from the hill by the chosen writer, who I'm sure chortled while he spoke each rule)

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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Jess » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:36 am

gower21 wrote:And there shall be no hissing in fiction!

(taken from the commandments of writing--brought from the hill by the chosen writer, who I'm sure chortled while he spoke each rule)

Except by lizardpeople. Lizardpeople are required to hiss.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:37 am

Jess wrote:
gower21 wrote:And there shall be no hissing in fiction!

(taken from the commandments of writing--brought from the hill by the chosen writer, who I'm sure chortled while he spoke each rule)

Except by lizardpeople. Lizardpeople are required to hiss.


And snakes. And Voldemort. And Cindy Brady. (But I repeat myself...)
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:18 am

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:
Patrick S. McGinnity wrote:Consider:

"It's another frickin' monster!" Gus shouted, pulling at her arm.

Vs.

Suddenly Gus pulled at her arm. It was another monster!


NICE example, Teach! Really makes your point. Unless the text were very much in the voice of Gus, I could never write the latter one.



Or just:

"Monster," shouted Gus. And he yanked her arm, dragging her down the street.

Or:


"Monster!" Gus grabbed her arm and yanked her down the street.

I would either use the exlamation point or use shouted, but not both. They sort of convey the same meaning. I think I prefer the exclamation point, as long as you don't use too many. I usually only use one and no more than two for a WOTF length story.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:44 am

@Patrick.
Awesome.

@Martin.
That was ridiculously obscure. I got it tho.

@Corbin.
I prefer your 2nd example. Less words, and I'm not a fan of the," he said, then did something else - type of style.

As for one or two ! even if in dialog, I would think that's character and story dependent. Use em if you need em.

I read a finalist story that had 70 exclamation points in it. (I just counted)
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Grayson Morris » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:50 am

I ran a kindle search in the latest issue of F&SF, and nearly every story contains the word "suddenly." Some twice. I hadn't noticed any of them while reading. At the end of the day, that's what matters: the writing doesn't pull the reader out of the story.
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Re: Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:55 am

Interesting.

I do draw the line at one "suddenly" per story if that many, and never- ever, ever, "All of a sudden". wotf039
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