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  1. #1
    Chuck Shaw
    Guest

    mechanics of sudden changes??

    Question
    There are times when an abrupt change in the story line is used for surprise / shock value. These are two examples I have come up with. I’m not satidfied with them. Ideas, comments? There must be other / better/ different ways to do this.

    Example 1. [on a boat] ...wind was nice and steady and the self steering was holding fine. The beach was a little close, but Jason decided he could duck into the cabin and...
    [paragraph]
    Hermoine exploded out of the cabin, clearing the companionway with a single bound. Her face was a snarling mask. Relapse. Jason had time for the single thought, then she was on him, hurling him over the side with the strength of a maniac.

    Exmaple 2. [on an aircraft flying a group to rescue of a child held in China] “….rather brilliant concept actually. Hide a little Chinese girl in a school full of little Chinese girls. A rescue party would be hesitant to use deadly force and it could take forever just find….”
    [paragraph]
    Wham! The Experiment [aircraft name] gave a violent lurch that threw anyone not belted down into the overhead. There was a nauseating crunch and Tilly screamed. A white sliver of bone stuck out through the arm of her coveralls and blood was flying everywhere as Jason slammed the Experiment into a desperate dive.

    CS



  2. #2
    martin shaw
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    It is hard to see the surprise in a way, because you are not lulled into a false sense of security by the story line. I would say get rid of the wham in E2(a bit Batman), and shorter sentences will change a story line very quickly obviously.

  3. #3
    rock doctor
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    I'm thinking you haven't provided us with enough in your examples. For shock value, you have to lull the reader into thinking all is well, calm and unchanging. That takes some development, which I am not sure you have or not. I agree with the 1st post. Be short and to the point without fancy metaphors or detracting description. You will loose the effect. I don't know if that helped. Sorry. ~RD

  4. #4
    Josh Lemay
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    I'm not a fan of the ellipsis method, myself. It usually draws attention to the fact that something is odd or different.

    My personal preference for things like this:

    "The beach was a little close, but Jason decided he could duck into the cabin and grab his bag before they arrived. And he would have, except Hermoine exploded out of the cabin(continue on, etc)."

    I think that's a little more humorous than serious, though. If you want some examples of an author who I think does that sort of thing very well, read some stuff from Douglas Adams(all of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books are nice). His examples, again, are more humorous than serious, but you might be able to use the method in a more serious manner or at least get ideas.

  5. #5
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    Chuck,

    You're not actually using the ..., are you? I wouldn't do that with a 1st person narrator, much less a 3rd person narrator, especially when the story's told in past tense. Your narrator already knows what happened. It's the reader you're trying to surprise.

    Best,
    Janice

  6. #6
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    Ummm, I clicked post too soon.

    Regarding your ellipses, improper or too frequent use of punctuation (other than the usual periods and commas) will call more attention to the formatting than the words. That's highly distracting and irritating to readers.

    Best,
    Janice

  7. #7
    Chuck Shaw
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    MS & RD

    You’re right. I posted too short a segment to make the effect come through. I hate overlong posts of writing segments because I feel I shouldn’t comment unless I read the whole thing, even if I think I see problems in the first line. Oops. My 4,236th goof of the year

    JL & JWD
    I have been using ellipses specifically to indicate pauses in dialog.

    Example "I'm sure you understand that we would find such an action...disturbing, shall we say?" In context the translation is "Do it and you get a concrete overcoat and a one way boat ride."

    or to indicate incomplete actions or thoughts, such as the interruptions in the original post.

    I probably have thirty or so ellipses in whole manuscript; three of the abrupt interruptions and the rest in the dialog of one self important (and very powerful) character who uses pauses to (he thinks) threaten people without being crude or vulgar. Most of them are clustered in two or three phone conversations.

    I have been regarding them as a tool to indicate a pause-a blank spot in conversations or a shock that derails the character’s train of thought.

    Is this incorrect usage? What are the alternatives?

    My ignorance seems even more complete than usual on this one.

    CS

  8. #8
    Josh Lemay
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    I don't know if ellipsis are proper usage in text like that or not. I have seen them before, but I've also seen a double dash ( -- ) used. Maybe both are right? Or they are supposed to be used at different times? Not sure, but it's something to look into.

  9. #9
    L Bea
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    Chuck,

    I posted this in a thread a couple of pages back...

    Traditionally, ellipses are used to omit words within a quotation. However, The Chicago Manual of Style states, “Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty.”

    When using them in that way, it should be done sparingly. It gets old fast if they're rampant.

    Bea~

  10. #10
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: mechanics of sudden changes??

    When using them in that way, it should be done sparingly. It gets old fast if they're rampant.

    Unless you're Dan Brown or Tom Wolfe. Then go nuts with it.

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