Author Topic: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: 50 Alternatives for "Wink" in Writing  (Read 10084 times)  

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: 100 Ways to Say "Big"
« Reply #125 on: February 21, 2017, 12:55:54 PM »
I found some of your advice puzzling. Take this pair of sentences:

You said the second was better because it uses an active verb and a reader might misunderstand the first. I find that hard to believe. The formula "A's x is bigger than his y" is an English idiom, along with other stock variations like "His ambition outstripped his abilities." Most people would've heard it or used it and its variations many times.

I also don't think the comparison works because outmatched implies a competition between his ego and his bank account, when the first sentence was only making a point about the size of Bernard's ego. Outmatched works better with "His lifestyle outmatched his bank account," or some such, though it's a different point about Bernard's character. The modifier mammoth only adds to the imbalance. If you have to describe the object of the comparison, you lose the pithiness of the idiom. Adding mammoth is like saying "His ego outmatched his bank account, which was very large by the way." We have to know the size of his bank account before the comparison is made for the idiom to work. 

Then there's this pair:

Behemoth is a noun meaning "the largest and strongest thing," not an adjective, and I've never seen it used as a premodifier (M-W's "a behemoth truck" notwithstanding). It's usually used as a descriptive stand-in for a preceding noun (the technical term escapes me at the moment): "I saw the tiger again. This time the behemoth [= the tiger] was coming for me." 

Silently adds something to moved, but nothing to stalked because to stalk (in its transitive form) means "to pursue by stealth" (= silently). Of course, stalked has no direct object in your example, making it intransitive. The intransitive meaning of stalked, however, is different from the transitive meaning: "The tiger stalked the man [trans. = pursued stealthily]" but "The tiger stalked away [intrans. = walked slowly and softly/walked away stiffly, sullenly]." So stalked can't be substituted for moved silently without giving it an object or changing the meaning of the sentence.   

In many of the other examples I wondered why you didn't recommend striking out big altogether, instead of replacing it with a synonym. Take the "big bruise" example. You have a modifying phrase describing the bruise as impossible to hide (= big). Once you have that description, calling it big (or anything else) seems redundant.

The first example works if readers understand that Bernard has oodles of money. But maybe he's a mild-mannered accountant with an overdrawn account. The second leaves no room for misinterpretation.

For the next set, writers often use nouns as adjectives. It's a literary technique that draws an instant picture in readers' minds.

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: 100 Ways to Say "Big"
« Reply #126 on: February 22, 2017, 10:22:14 AM »

Behemoth is a noun meaning "the largest and strongest thing," not an adjective, and I've never seen it used as a premodifier (M-W's "a behemoth truck" notwithstanding). It's usually used as a descriptive stand-in for a preceding noun (the technical term escapes me at the moment): "I saw the tiger again. This time the behemoth [= the tiger] was coming for me." 



I found some examples for you showing behemoth used as an adjective.

http://articles.courant.com/2005-12-24/news/0512240646_1_asian-marketing-foxwoods-resort-mohegan-sun-president

https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/syft-technologies-sniffing-out-a-fortune

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/denali

http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2013/0822/565090/bill-goldberg-responds-to-wrestlemania-30-rumor/

http://www.desertsun.com/story/sports/baseball/pete-donovan/2015/12/16/dodgers-clayton-kershaw-zack-greinke/77457282/

Online EC Sheedy

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Re: 100 Ways to Say "Big"
« Reply #127 on: February 22, 2017, 11:01:10 AM »
Love these lists--and I will definitely be looking forward to your book.

I like the lists because they poke at my autopilot brain and help that foggy, lazy gray mass to visualize other choices.  :-*

 

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Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever."   ― Philip Pullman

Offline Carol M

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Re: 100 Ways to Say "Big"
« Reply #128 on: February 22, 2017, 02:24:04 PM »
Thank you! Posts like these are very helpful.

Online T. M. Bilderback

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Re: 100 Ways to Say "Big"
« Reply #129 on: February 22, 2017, 05:22:18 PM »

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Offline WHDean

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Re: 100 Ways to Say "Big"
« Reply #130 on: February 23, 2017, 05:40:40 AM »
The first example works if readers understand that Bernard has oodles of money. But maybe he's a mild-mannered accountant with an overdrawn account. The second leaves no room for misinterpretation.

For the next set, writers often use nouns as adjectives. It's a literary technique that draws an instant picture in readers' minds.

People use idioms like "his x is bigger than his y" because they come "pre-interpreted" by being so familiar. No one needs to add big and tiny to "youre making a mountain out of a molehill" to prevent misinterpretation or make it more vivid.

It's concreteness that makes the mental picture, and tiger is far more concrete than either big or behemoth. A writer makes "The dog circled the snared rabbit" more evocative by changing dog to Rottweiler, not by adding big or behemoth to dog:

Quote
The Rottweiler circled the snared rabbit.

Or take the following pairs:

Quote
The velociraptor ran toward me.
The sasquatch stole my beer.

The behemoth velociraptor ran toward me.
The behemoth sasquatch stole my beer.

What's creating the mental images, behemoth or velociraptor and sasquatch? And what did behemoth add to either? That's why I originally suggested striking big, not adding another adjective.

I found some examples for you showing behemoth used as an adjective.

I turned up 134 hits on "the behemoth" in the online Corpus of Contemporary American English, which is a massive database of, well, contemporary American English. The phrase "a behemoth" returned 97 hits. (The one-word "behemoth" turned up 826 and the phrases "this behemoth" and "these behemoth" will fall under Number 2 below, but examples were very few anyway.)
 
1. The vast majority of the examples of the behemoth (about 85%) fit the usage I described abovei.e., behemoth is used as a stand-in for another noun.
 
2. About 10% of the same were appositional. Here are a few examples from the corpus: 
 
Quote
second place in global production, surpassed only by the behemoth Brazil
for law firms ranging in size from 15 lawyers to the behemoth Baker & McKenzie 

3. Another 3%-4% followed a pattern like that of Number 1, except that there was a distance between the mention of the subject and a description of its large size, so the subject is repeated (presumably to avoid ambiguity of reference), even though behemoth could stand alone. This example is representative:
 
Quote
the modern computer had been a huge block of wires and tubes about the size of an outhouse. The really powerful computers that cracked spy codes and guided inter-continental ballistic missiles were about the size of a roadside restroom along the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and with as much charm. These ugly contraptions jiggled punch cards and made computations. But prior to Xerox PARC the computer was bereft of colorful screens, joyous speakers, floppy discs, and all the strangely piquant terminology the engineers dreamed up. The behemoth computers of the past were used mainly by grim groups of scientists and bureaucrats. They had to schedule time on the machine. (American Spectator, 1999)

Of course, the word computers is superfluous with behemoth. The sentence could have begun "These behemoths of the past..." The point is that behemoth isn't being used as the adjective big would and could be; it's referring back to the earlier description of the computer as "huge block of wires and tubes about the size of an outhouse." Presumably computers was plugged back in to avoid confusion with engineers, which immediately preceded.
 
4. Less than 1% of the "a/the behemoth" sample fit the pattern you describe. We're talking somewhere around five hits in the entire corpus containing 826 "behemoths." The first is stage direction from the script of the film Bamboozled:
 
Quote
Ext. Times Square Night: Mantan and Cheeba gaze skyward at a behemoth billboard for their show.
 
Among the choices: murals, elaborately lit designs, landscapes. But the people wanted a totem pole. The behemoth sculptures, typically carved from trees by native peoples to illustrate ancient legends, watch over lands in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. (Washington Post)

Not exactly inspiring. Behemoth sculptures adds abstraction to abstraction, evoking some large amorphous thing. The massive wooden sculptures/tree carvings/artworks would have evoked a stronger image.

So, I modify my original statement to say I've rarely seen behemoth used as a premodifier. And when I have, it wasn't particularly pretty.


« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 05:50:42 AM by WHDean »

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #131 on: February 27, 2017, 06:12:30 AM »
As per your requests, this week's post: Over 100 Ways to Say "Little"

We've all heard the adage that little things can make a big difference. Unfortunately, too many little repetitions can make a big difference in writing too, maybe even enough to scare away readers.

That darned little pest creeps into writing unawares.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2017, 08:22:16 AM by GrandmaBirdie »

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #132 on: February 27, 2017, 06:23:36 AM »
Thanks, GrandmaBirdie.

I have been copying your lists and adding them to my notes for months now. They're not easy to find amongst all my other notes so hopefully your book will be out soon. Hint. Hint.  ;)

« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 06:45:17 AM by TwistedTales »

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #133 on: February 27, 2017, 06:31:02 AM »
Thanks, GrandmaBirdie.

I have been copy your lists and adding them to my notes for months now. They're not easy to find amongst all my other notes so hopefully your book will be out soon. Hint. Hint.  ;)

Heh heh. I'm working on it. The lists in the book will be even more comprehensive.

This link will take you directly to my online lists: http://kathysteinemann.com/Musings/category/word-lists/

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #134 on: February 27, 2017, 06:37:53 AM »
Heh heh. I'm working on it. The lists in the book will be even more comprehensive.

This link will take you directly to my online lists: http://kathysteinemann.com/Musings/category/word-lists/

Good to hear and I'll add this one to my collection of useful links.

Thank you!

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #135 on: February 27, 2017, 08:53:09 AM »
As per your requests, this week's post: Over 100 Ways to Say "Little"

Weve all heard the adage that little things can make a big difference. Unfortunately, too many little repetitions can make a big difference in writing too, maybe even enough to scare away readers.

That darned little pest creeps into writing unawares.

"GrandmaBirdie, what a big 'little' list you have!"
"The better to describe you with, my dear ..."

 :)




Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #136 on: February 27, 2017, 09:54:52 AM »
"GrandmaBirdie, what a big 'little' list you have!"
"The better to describe you with, my dear ..."

 :)

Hmm, Becca. You speak as though you know me. I never made it to the five-foot mark. You've piqued my curiosity. ::)

Offline Debbie Bennett

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #137 on: February 27, 2017, 02:22:32 PM »
Shrugging! My characters are always shrugging...  :)













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Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #138 on: February 27, 2017, 03:00:37 PM »
Shrugging! My characters are always shrugging...  :)

 ;) Done.

Over 100 Ways to Say "Shrug"

Offline Desmond X. Torres

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #139 on: February 27, 2017, 03:43:30 PM »
What a great thread.
Comment for the bump.
Crawley House: A tale of The Hauntings of Kingston

If you're new and need some guidance on setting up Mailchimp, I have a thread on it here at Kboards:http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=165780.msg2374500#msg2374500

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #140 on: March 06, 2017, 06:25:02 AM »
Today's addition: Over 300 Wind Words.

Environmental ambience adds depth to writing. Do you take advantage of it? This list of adjectives, verbs, and nouns will help.

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: Em Dash Abuse--It Ain't Pretty
« Reply #141 on: March 13, 2017, 05:56:56 AM »
Latest post: Em Dash Abuse--It Ain't Pretty.

How often do you insert em dashes in your writing? Although occasional occurrences might clarify or emphasize, too many annoy readers and editors.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: Em Dash Abuse--It Ain't Pretty
« Reply #142 on: March 13, 2017, 06:14:41 AM »
Interesting. I was never taught to use them in creative writing. I don't mind seeing a few in fiction, but they can get annoying if they appear too often.

Thanks for the lesson!

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: Exclamation Points! Plague or Pleasure?
« Reply #143 on: March 20, 2017, 06:01:14 AM »
March 20: Exclamation Points! Plague or Pleasure? F. Scott Fitzgerald hated exclamation points. Mark Twain didn't like them either. Elmore Leonard recommended only two or three per novel. What about you?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 08:05:12 AM by GrandmaBirdie »

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: Exclamation Points! Plague or Pleasure?
« Reply #144 on: March 20, 2017, 07:55:59 AM »
It's so easy to sneak a few too many in. This is a good reminder to use them sparingly!  :D

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #145 on: March 20, 2017, 10:18:48 AM »
;) Done.

Over 100 Ways to Say "Shrug"

Oh boy do I need this one. My characters are *always* trying to shrug. I'm afraid they're going to give themselves neck injuries. ;)

March 20: Exclamation Points! Plague or Pleasure? F. Scott Fitzgerald hated exclamation points. Mark Twain didn't like them either. Elmore Leonard recommended only two or three per novel. What about you?

You know, I've always been a dues-paying member of the barely-ever-use-them club, and I got through my first novel feeling that I had barely used any at all. I thought, well, there might be five or six. Out of curiosity, I checked to see how many I actually used ... and there are seventy-two! Ahem. I mean, seventy-two!!!!!!!!!! Sneaky little weasels.




Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #146 on: March 20, 2017, 10:37:16 AM »
Oh boy do I need this one. My characters are *always* trying to shrug. I'm afraid they're going to give themselves neck injuries. ;)

You know, I've always been a dues-paying member of the barely-ever-use-them club, and I got through my first novel feeling that I had barely used any at all. I thought, well, there might be five or six. Out of curiosity, I checked to see how many I actually used ... and there are seventy-two! Ahem. I mean, seventy-two!!!!!!!!!! Sneaky little weasels.

Isn't it amazing how little quirks creep into writing unannounced, like a flea infestation?  ;D Next week I'll be posting 200 ways to say "shake the head," another bugaboo for many writers.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists
« Reply #147 on: March 20, 2017, 10:45:10 AM »
Isn't it amazing how little quirks creep into writing unannounced, like a flea infestation?  ;D Next week I'll be posting 200 ways to say "shake the head," another bugaboo for many writers.

Looking forward to it. Mine shake their heads even more than they shrug.  :-[




Offline daveconifer

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: Exclamation Points! Plague or Pleasure?
« Reply #148 on: March 20, 2017, 10:51:01 AM »
Sorry if you've already covered this, GB.  But is there a dictionary of terms I don't know about for common body movements?  For instance, I find myself spreading my palms, face up, away from my body to indicate confusion / confoundery.  Is there a verb for that?  By the time I try to describe it in a sentence, the whole mood of the scene unravels with unneeded klunky words.

There are others, but none are coming to mind.  (As I try to think of them, I'm spreading my palms, face up, awa-- oh wait, what was I saying?)

Thanks...
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:52:50 AM by daveconifer »

Offline GrandmaBirdie

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Re: GrandmaBirdie's Lists: Exclamation Points! Plague or Pleasure?
« Reply #149 on: March 20, 2017, 10:57:09 AM »
Sorry if you've already covered this, GB.  But is there a dictionary of terms I don't know about for common body movements?  For instance, I find myself spreading my palms, face up, away from my body to indicate confusion / confoundery.  Is there a verb for that?  By the time I try to describe it in a sentence, the whole mood of the scene unravels with unneeded klunky words.

There are others, but none are coming to mind.  (As I try to think of them, I'm spreading my palms, face up, awa-- oh wait, what was I saying?)

Thanks...

Maybe approach this from the opposite angle.

Decide what emotion your protagonist is experiencing. Stand in front of a mirror and pretend you're feeling that way. What does your face look like? Where are your hands and feet? Are you leaning forward/backward or cocking your head? All you need is one or two well-described action beats to transform your protagonist from a marionette into a breathing person on the page. Body language, like character descriptions, can be overdone.