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Thread: Dang it, I've used the same technique three times...

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Dang it, I've used the same technique three times...

    I'm in final edits. Three times my characters are having a heated discussion when they turn around and a person involved in what they are talking about is standing there.

    I'm sure readers will notice. But all three fit in the scenes. Help, I need an alternative.

    Here's the third:
    ďAnd now Iím supposed to understand what Mark went through?Ē
    Mom was staring behind me toward the door. I turned. Mark was standing there.
    The other two incidents are very similar. Surely there has to be more ways writers can present a similar situation than this one.


    Thank you all in advance whether you can help me or not.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW
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    I'm of no help but it occurs to me that if one of your characters is always involved in this dynamic, they could say "I don't know why this reputation follows me around," or something to that effect....

    (ya'know, humor.. But it would have to fit your style and the tone of the book...)
    I'm also on twitter where I routinely upset people. at pltavormina

  3. #3
    independent claws blackcat777's Avatar
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    If there is one character specifically with a tendency to put his foot in his mouth, you could play it up. Not sure if that's applicable to all of your situations, though.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Davy The First's Avatar
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    Technically, there may be options. (He spoke, the door sound opening or whatever) but is that the true concern?

    Maybe your concern is using that particular technique three times?

    It's possible, but might be risky. Less risky if they are well spaced out in the novel, and if all three have an essential dynamic.

    But the walking in one others speaking thingy is hard to pull off if there isn't real energy in the scene.

    A simple solution is to choose one scene where a complete alternative is possible, ie the person interrupting doesn't need to know the big issue, there and then.

    Usually technical reevaluations indicate a deeper structural concerns - but not always.

    Best of luck with it.

    D
    Last edited by Davy The First; 12-24-2017 at 11:05 AM.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW indianroads's Avatar
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    You might also consider making it obvious that you've done it again... "Oh there's Joe." Oh my God we've done it again! What is it about that guy that he always seems to show up when we're talking about him?

    There's a saying in the engineering field... if you can't fix it, feature it.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indianroads View Post
    You might also consider making it obvious that you've done it again... "Oh there's Joe." Oh my God we've done it again! What is it about that guy that he always seems to show up when we're talking about him?

    There's a saying in the engineering field... if you can't fix it, feature it.
    Now there's an idea. It's twice with the same person walking up and once with another. I could have someone complain about the character always sneaking up.

    Thanks to all of you, I'll try calling attention to it.
    Last edited by MaeZe; 12-24-2017 at 10:17 PM.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    I would definitely draw attention to it if you can't remove it. There's an entire TVTropes entry on this matter.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...mpshadeHanging

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwm4768 View Post
    I would definitely draw attention to it if you can't remove it. There's an entire TVTropes entry on this matter.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...mpshadeHanging
    There's a name for it. Perfect! I would have just called it 'lack of imagination' writing.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin raine_d's Avatar
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    Does it say something about me that the third time, I want them to turn around... and there's no one there?

  10. #10
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raine_d View Post
    Does it say something about me that the third time, I want them to turn around... and there's no one there?
    It says you understand how the rule of three works. The third time a pattern repeats, it should be different from the other two--a reversal, a twist, an amplification, or (in humor) a punchline.

    @MaeZe: Consider doing something different with the third instance.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BethS View Post
    It says you understand how the rule of three works. The third time a pattern repeats, it should be different from the other two--a reversal, a twist, an amplification, or (in humor) a punchline.

    @MaeZe: Consider doing something different with the third instance.
    Can it be with the second one?

  12. #12
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    Can it be with the second one?
    Heh. Probably not...unless you use the third instance to play off what happened in the second instance?

  13. #13
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    Hard to answer what a different technique would be without knowing what you are trying to achieve with the scene. Is it that Mark learns a secret? That the character speaking is embarrassed? Or simply a way to abruptly end the conversation? Obviously there are lots of ways to achieve any of those.

    But anyway, I don't think I'd really notice.

  14. #14
    The Wanderer DanielSTJ's Avatar
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    I just love this topic.

    +1 indeed.

    I've learned from this.
    Vivere militare est.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morngnstar View Post
    Hard to answer what a different technique would be without knowing what you are trying to achieve with the scene. Is it that Mark learns a secret? That the character speaking is embarrassed? Or simply a way to abruptly end the conversation? Obviously there are lots of ways to achieve any of those.

    But anyway, I don't think I'd really notice.
    Not a secret, more like what Brin is feeling that she (like so many women) kept to herself around him, deferring to his emotional needs.

    In another situation Mark is complaining that Mayer, the person with Brin, is dangerous saying, "How do you know he won't [threat described]?" And Mayer interrupts them saying, "Because I could have and didn't." They turn to see him standing there when they thought he was out of earshot.

    The third one is similar, Mark is angry and telling Brin off when Mayer shows up to defend her.

    I know this looks like Mark is an insensitive jerk but it's just imperfect characters working themselves out.
    Last edited by MaeZe; 12-27-2017 at 10:34 PM.

  16. #16
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    So the common thread is that a character would have felt inhibited about saying something, if they knew the eavesdropper was listening.

    So the answer could be, what other ways can the character feel uninhibited? Drunkenness? Emotionally pushed to the breaking point? All three characters could be present in the conversation from the outset if you give another motivation for breaking from their usual patterns.

  17. #17
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    Another possibility is for the plot point to be achieved some way other than dialogue. For example, Brin could learn that Mayer "could have" on her own without being told. And then she could be the one to point this out to Mark (assuming it's important for him to have this information too).

  18. #18
    independent claws blackcat777's Avatar
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    Or would narration allow you to follow the character that "could have" but never did, thus cluing in the reader, but leaving your other characters out of the loop?

    Then your characters could speculate would have/could have/should have, meanwhile the reader knows. Interesting if the character being discussed overhears but chooses not to comment.

    /random brainstorming

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Davy The First's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    I'm in final edits. Three times my characters are having a heated discussion when they turn around and a person involved in what they are talking about is standing there.

    I'm sure readers will notice. But all three fit in the scenes. Help, I need an alternative.

    Here's the third:

    The other two incidents are very similar. Surely there has to be more ways writers can present a similar situation than this one.


    Thank you all in advance whether you can help me or not.
    Lol. Did you change the title of the thread, from 'phrase' to 'technique', or am I jut blind?

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy The First View Post
    Lol. Did you change the title of the thread, from 'phrase' to 'technique', or am I jut blind?
    Nope, didn't change it. Memories are like that. Happens to me all the time.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW indianroads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    Nope, didn't change it. Memories are like that. Happens to me all the time.
    LOL. You think it's bad now... wait til you're in your mid-60's like me.

  22. #22
    figuring it all out LuckyStar's Avatar
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    This is reminding me of something I've been noticing in my ms. Whenever food is involved, a character mentions how the food smells.
    "Something smells good."
    "Sure smells good."
    "Smells great."
    Etc.

    I've been trying to change it up, so I have, "Looks good." instead.

    I'll have to work on rewording, but I'm drawing a blank for now.

    I think we all use patterns when we write. We just have to decide where continuity becomes redundancy.

  23. #23
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Clovitide's Avatar
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    I like all of these suggestions, but if you decide no, you want something else, an idea struck me. So, instead of them appearing behind the group, of the person call someone and then when they hang up, the person goes on a rant about whoever was on the phone, just to find out the call has not ended. I did that once with my mother. Someone from her work had called her and she put on her fake, nice voice, then right when the call ended she began cursing the chick out. So me, being a comedian, said, "Mom, you're still on the phone." And my mom freaked out. Funniest thing ever, it was great.

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