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Random thoughts

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by SeverinR, May 14, 2013.

  1. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Mostly, I've been thinking that the term can be used to explain so many things I dislike in my reading experience.

    My trouble is that I'm not 100% certain the term can be applied so liberally, whether it is the right term for an across-the-board :banghead:

    Edit: Also, if the term is right, then what is the inverse, and how can I use this idea of the not-on-the-nose to improve those various areas in my own writing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    You see, that's just it!

    In a novel, two characters might be speaking.

    FifthView: Lately I've been thinking of on the nose. On the nose dialogue. On the nose description. On the nose action. On the nose plotting...

    kennyc: Yeah, I've thought about those also. People nowadays write so directly! Everything takes such a logical step, from A to B to C, precise and unveering. To the point. Characters say exactly what's on their minds and do not veer from topic. Description...A character needs to walk down a hall to get to the next exciting conversation, so the author–not wanting a blank environment–has to say, "She walked down the hall to Clarice's room." Mind you, absolutely nothing else about the hall needs describing. It's utilitarian. Oh, maybe she'll be thankful that the hall is carpeted, because it's a cold night and she doesn't have any slippers. Yeah. I know exactly what you mean!

    VS

    kennyc: Is it a mole? Queen Mab? I woke up one night with Mab, and let me tell you...her breath doesn't smell like apple blossoms! She also had this itty bitty mole on her nose, with a hair growing out of it. I couldn't sleep for a week.​
     
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  3. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Drip....drip....drip. Allergies you see. :)
     
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Yeah that came to my mind also, but I was trying to avoid a direct simpatico.* :D

    *erp, probably not best as a noun.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
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  5. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yep.

    Frustrating isn't it? I started to "get it" when I realized nobody ever says exactly what they are thinking or feeling. Everyone dodges around issues, or makes jokes, or changes the subject, or ignores the statement all together.

    Helio: Hey what do you want for dinner?

    Fifthview: I found a great lamp at Walmart today

    Helio: Pizza ok?

    Kenny *nods*: You want to write deep and intellectual sciency poetry later? Pineapple always makes me want to analyze the human condition and how it relates to technology.

    Randomness is the key to off the nose success.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
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  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    And again, I think this is why I love Hemmingway so much. Nothing he writes is on the nose. People can have entire conversations where the "real conversation" is 100% subtext. It is baffling and wonderful at the same time.
     
  7. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    From today's Writers Almanac (happy birthday Anne Lamott):

    ....She writes: “Nothing can break the mood of a piece of writing like bad dialogue. My students are miserable when they are reading an otherwise terrific story to the class and then hit a patch of dialogue that is so purple and expositional that it reads like something from a childhood play by the Gabor sisters [...] I can see the surprise on my students’ faces, because the dialogue looked Okay on paper, yet now it sounds as if it were poorly translated from their native Hindi.”
     
  8. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Yes! I love :The Hills like White Elephants" (and many others of course - like "The End of Something"). He was a master of this subtext thing.

    also I suspect you have/have read "Ernest Hemingway On Writing" by Larry Phillips?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
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  9. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    The thread on "old voice" (or literary voice) and the thread on improving description led me to this point of trying to apply "on the nose" to other areas than dialogue, like exposition and description. The term seems most often applied to dialogue, and the effect may be far more obvious when it occurs in dialogue.

    Those threads inspired me to refresh my memory of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    So imagine that this had been in the book:

    The great ships hung huge, heavy, unnaturally motionless in the sky over every nation on Earth, and the people of the Earth panicked. The ships looked like bricks, entirely unaffected by gravity.​

    Instead of the actual paragraph:

    The great ships hung motionless in the sky, over every nation on Earth. Motionless they hung, heavy, steady in the sky, a blasphemy against nature. Many people went straight into shock as their minds tried to encompass what they were looking at. The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.​

    In some ways, the actual paragraph goes overboard in the repetition of straightforward description/telling—but it's a setup for that final line.

    Of course, some of this effect (generally, not just in the example above) might relate to telling rather than showing, and to "storyteller voice" vs a nondescript narrator voice delivering matter-of-fact exposition (another previous thread!)

    Plus, I wonder if this idea of not being on-the-nose could relate to a previous thread on creating tension—when what comes next is unexpected, unusual, a surprise throughout the narrative, this can maybe draw a reader forward?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  10. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    BTW, I didn't intend to go into so much detail in Random Thoughts. I considered starting a thread in Writing Questions on the subject of "on the nose," but a) at the time (and still) I wasn't certain the term applied so broadly, and b) consequently I didn't want to inaugurate a misguided thread up there, so I was just throwing it out here....Randomly.
     
  11. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Let's do it! Let's start an "on the nose post". I would talk about this some more....
     
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  12. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Fifthview I found "Hills like White Elephants" in Pdf!

    Have a read. It's very short. It is the perfect example of wonderful dialogue (we had to study it in University specifically because of the wonderful dialogue).

    http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/fms/...s Like White Elephants - Ernest Hemingway.pdf

    The subtext is the impending abortion, obviously, which is never actually mentioned. She sees the world full of life "hills look like white elephants" and he sees the world full of death "brown and dry". He doesn't like the way that she sees the world, and bully's her into changing her perspective.

    She dismantles her vision in order to win his approval. She doesn't want to get rid of the baby, but she will do it because she loves him. He becomes a force for death as she, now wooing him, buries her way of seeing as she will bury her child.

    The white space of the story carries all the energy of coercion and the weight of despair without any of the actual "story" being mentioned at all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
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  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    ...maybe!

    I'm feeling commitment-phobic at the moment. :eek:
     
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  14. Geo

    Geo Troubadour

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    That was very on-the-nose...
     
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  15. Incanus

    Incanus Archmage

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    GOT TV show:

    It is my intention to remain wholly ignorant of any and all details of the further development of this story until I read the as-yet unpublished 6th book of the series.

    Basically, I'll need to live somewhere off-planet for at least another half-year or so. I was wondering if U-Haul rents vehicles capable of interstellar travel yet...
     
  16. Maybe, but they require extra insurance and a promise to use clumsy blasters rather than elegant limb lopping lightsabers.
     
  17. Incanus

    Incanus Archmage

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    Not unreasonable. I can scrape up a few more bucks (credits). And, I'm not dexterous enough to use lightsabers in the first place--but I can shoot a little better than Jar-Jar, so I've got that going for me.
     
  18. Velka

    Velka Sage

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    Me: Goodnight brain.
    Brain: Goodnight.
    Me: .........
    Brain: ........
    Me: zzz.....
    Brain: OMG AHHHHH WE'RE FALLING!
    Me: !!!!!!
    Brain: Just checking.
    Me: Damnit.
    Brain: So, while we're up why don't we google the Phoenician alphabet, what renaissance paint colours were named, and who invented ice cream? Oh, and while we're doing that, let's think about that time you really embarrassed yourself at work last month.
    Me: Okay, that sounds reasonable.
     
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  19. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I love when people try to apologize like this: "I'm sorry you feel that way". <---That's not a real apology. Seriously? Friendship access denied. And I've only been awake for an hour already dealing with this crap.
     
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  20. One final down one more to go.
     
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