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sc211
09-22-2004, 01:31 PM
I read on here a ways back that one should never write, "He threw up his arms," or "He threw his arms up in the air." In the first he's puking, and in the second he's an amputee.

What's a good alternative to use, especially when you want to convey a kid having a great time?

And for number two, while I know that "He yelled as loudly as he could" is the correct form, somehow "He yelled as loud as he could" just sounds better. I guess because that's how we say it in conversation.

So while one could get away with it in a novel's dialogue ("He saw me out there and yelled as loud as he could."), is it still unacceptable in narration?

Thanks.

Jules Hall
09-22-2004, 07:41 PM
I read on here a ways back that one should never write, "He threw up his arms," or "He threw his arms up in the air." In the first he's puking, and in the second he's an amputee.

What's a good alternative to use, especially when you want to convey a kid having a great time?

I don't actually have a big problem with either of these, but I can see why some people might want to avoid them. "He lifted his arms over his head" works, but doesn't convey quite the same thing. I'd stick to throwing them -- everyone will know what you mean.

And for number two, while I know that "He yelled as loudly as he could" is the correct form, somehow "He yelled as loud as he could" just sounds better. I guess because that's how we say it in conversation.

I think either are correct in this situation; "loudly" is an adverb which describes the act of yelling... but "loud" could equally be an adjective that describes the (implicit) yell emitted.

One thing I have noticed, btw, which might assist with regional accent writing, is that the mistake of using an adjective where an adverb is required is made more often by Americans than by other English speakers. No idea why.

DanALewis
09-22-2004, 11:31 PM
For the first, you might consider another phrase that is not as over-used as "threw up his hands". Usually people throw up their hands in disgust, and "I quit" is being communicated; it might be hard for a reader to make the connection you want. Maybe the kid could jump and do the wave like a fan at a baseball game.

Yeshanu
09-22-2004, 11:37 PM
One thing I have noticed, btw, which might assist with regional accent writing, is that the mistake of using an adjective where an adverb is required is made more often by Americans than by other English speakers.

Which is perhaps why you should stick to standard English with the loud/loudly question... When I first read your question, I wanted to protest, "That's not how I speak in casual conversation!"

As to throwing your arms up in the air...

Yeah, you can be a stickler for grammar here (and in other similar examples), but then you lose the power and beauty of metaphorical language. I detest literalism -- it takes the poetry out of language.

Jamesaritchie
09-23-2004, 02:34 AM
I generally don't have too much of a problem with such phrases. I find they get on writer's nerves far more than they get on reader's nerves. Real people speak this way all the time, and I write for readers, not for other writers.

As for "He yelled as loudly as he could," well, why not just write "he yelled?"

"Yelled loudly" is redundant. Have you ever heard anyone yell quietly?

Yeshanu
09-23-2004, 06:07 AM
Have you ever heard anyone yell quietly?

Uh, good point, James. :b

sc211
09-23-2004, 09:58 AM
Thanks - I kind of thought "he threw up his arms" was okay, in that people wouldn't take it literally (the same as with "he kept an eye on the ball"), but I wanted to make sure.

And as for the yelling - I get what you're saying. As with "He whispered softly," or "He asked inquisitively."

In the story, though, the kid yells once for his dog to come out of the pond, gets no response, yells again, nothing, and then takes a deep breath and "yelled as loud as he could."

So it's a one-two-three comic set-up, with the third yell including a few extra words regarding the dog's intelligence.

Guess I just gotta loosen up and write as natural as I can. (Or would that make me naked?)

Writing Again
09-23-2004, 08:57 PM
I have nothing against adverbs, and in my first draft I never hesitate to include them.

Many writers on their second draft simply run thru and strike out all the adverbs and say, "Oh, what a wonderful person I am, look how I've improved my writing."

But I don't stop there.

Taking out an adverb makes the writing stronger but it also makes it flat, unimaginative--Very Hemingway. Now I have nothing against Hemingway, he was a great writer, but I don't want to write the way he wrote or write the stories he wrote.

The adverb tells me that when I wrote the sentence I wanted to emphasize the yell. Make it more than just a yell. So I first decide just how emphasized I want it to be.

Then I substitute a description for the adverb.

He yelled filling the room with sound.

He yelled toward the river his voice bouncing off the trees on the way until it was drunk by the water.

Or perhaps I want this yell to be superlative. This is easy as I do not mind proving to all and sundry that I am the idiot they believe me to be. No pride at all. I will stand up and yell until I get my description just right.

He yelled, drinking in a great gulp of air, pushing it all the way down to his tail bone, and expelling it until the spot on the back of his throat became raw.

Now when I come around for my next rewrite/edit I have something to work with.

maestrowork
09-23-2004, 09:27 PM
Sometimes a yell is simply a yell. To eleborate more on it could become wordy or even purple.

Sometimes it works, depending on your scene and the intensity you want to create for the readers. But then, why not NOT use the word "yell" which is redundant with the rest?

In your examples, I'd subsitute the word yell with something more suitable or powerful:


He yelled[,] filling the room with sound.
This is redundant by itself. Of course the room is going to be filled with the sound of his yelling. So here, it just becomes wordy.


He yelled toward the river[,] his voice bouncing off the trees until it was drunk by the water.

This one can work, because it's not redundant. It's actually adding to it. Except bouncing off trees seems wrong -- sounds don't bounce off trees. :-)


He yelled, drinking in a great gulp of air, pushing it all the way down to his tail bone, and expelling it until the spot on the back of his throat became raw.

The sequence of action here is wrong -- you're really explaining the mechanism of his yell. Why not just drop "he yelled" and start with "He drank..." (I won't discuss the silliness of "drinking in and pushing a gulp of air down to his tail bone" because I know it's just an example... :grin )

Writing Again
09-24-2004, 02:32 AM
(I won't discuss the silliness of "drinking in and pushing a gulp of air down to his tail bone" because I know it's just an example... )

Perhaps, but I did receive a rejection slip from a magazine once which went something like this (Near as I can recall)...

"Dear Sir, The poetic license you seem to delight in taking with the English language would lead us to believe that when you attempt to write short stories you are engaging in the wrong form of self expression."

maestrowork
09-24-2004, 02:48 AM
Ouch.

Flawed Creation
09-24-2004, 05:07 AM
how about a stronger verb?

for a loud and carrying yell, he bellowed.

for a yell of rage or terror, he screamed.

for loud speech/yelling, you have many verbs available

bellow, call, screech, scream, cry (out), shout, etc.

incidentally, i have heard someone yell quietly.