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  1. #1
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    Shut-up Exercise

    ...because the last one was so informative.

    This one a favorite sentence, not from a read-in-progress, but a line I've remembered for years.

    "Shut up," I explained.

    From Robert Parker, may he rest in peace, one of the Spencer books.

    Oddly, this one is harder to analyze for me. I love how it tells us so much about the first-person speaker and the character he's speaking to, and, of course, their relationship. I love that it does this in four words. Love that it messes with the ubiquitous I-said tag. But I've always thought there was something more to it, more to why I love it.

    Rogue and Robin helped me see more in the Percy sentence; perhaps someone can help elucidate more about what makes this sentence great.

    I'm going to try to apply it to one of the first-person sections in my WIP, but I'd really like to understand it more broadly -- beyond a Spencer character, beyond first-person -- so I could apply it to the bulk of my third-person WIP.

    If anyone has insight here and/or would like to try applying it, let's go. I'll be looking, trying, and posting this evening.



  2. #2
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    I like Ring Lardner's version:

    http://www.memorable-quotes.com/ring+lardner,a1235.html

    *_*

  3. #3
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    CK,

    I've been a rabid Parker fan for a very long time. It's a shame he keeled earlier this year.

    Not sure this is responding to your question, but Parker was a master of dialogue. At least that's my opinion. Much of his dialogue is really droll and funny. I wonder if that's what he had in mind with the line you reference.

    Many of us are taught not to use dialogue tags. Parker used them relentlessly and they didn't detract from his tales. He rarely used "explanatory" tags, though. Usually, "I said," "he said." And like that.

    Hawk is one of the best sidekicks ever, I think. A thug on the one hand. A handsome, dapper and educated babe magnet on the other. The dialogue between Spenser and Hawk is priceless.

    Mrs. Cur once heard John Sanford speak at a book signing. I don't know how the subject came up, but Sanford said "Bobby" was the only writer he knew who could put out a book with no plot and watch it disappear off the shelves at bookstores.

    I don't recall the specific line you're referring to, but I assume Spenser was talking to Susan Silverman.

    I read an interview of Parker a few years ago. He said he never worried about deadlines because he was always about six books ahead of his publisher's schedule. I know there's another Spenser coming out before long. Maybe there'll be more that were completed before he died.

    Well, how's that for making only passing reference to your question?

    Cur

  4. #4
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    Cur, I'll take such a tribute to heavy word lifting (even if just four) any day.

    Agree: Hawk is sublime. I tried for a good year to love champagne because of him. Also tried to look really cool hitting a speed bag a few times. Have failed at both thus far, although my husband informs me it's only because I won't spend more than $12 or ten minutes at a stretch.

    My father tried to get me to read Parker for years, but I could not imagine liking a detective series. Until one day he sent me Looking for Rachel Wallace when I was all alone in a new city and poor and I just read it. I called the next morning: "Dad, um, I was wrong. Do you have any more?" A box arrived a week later, a big box. I've collected him in hardback ever since. I'm on the mailing list, and, in fact, he has three new books out -- a Spencer, another western, and a I-can't-remember. For a time, I tried other detective series, thinking there had to be a prize in all the crackerjack boxes. There wasn't.

    Guess, I think there was usually a plot, but sometimes the plot wasn't as much about the case between the covers, but about moral codes and relationships. Maybe the westerns and the Stone series suffered more from that. I read them all, but Spencer was my thing. I still find myself speaking in Spencer-isms now and again, and once in a while, capturing something of what I love in his dialog, but I'm never good enough to use it well or intentionally. There's that.

    Parker dialog is amazing, and I only probably got half of it, having been remiss on my poetry and good-books education. In this quote, he's talking to a puffed up source or client; wait, now that I'm trying to remember, I think it may have been a smug rookie cop. Whatever, but certainly not Susan.

    I'd always envisioned my father and I loading up a leased Jaguar with a trunckful of hardcovers, making the colossal road trip to Parker's home, and getting them all signed or getting arrested in the process. I'm too late.

    Anyway, rambling. Good to hear from another Parker fan.

  5. #5
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    CK,

    Funny you said your father tried to get you interested in Parker. I did the same with my daughters.

    Naw, they weren't having any, thank you.

    Now they both read him.

    Proving the world is smaller than we think, when youngest daughter was a server in an Applebee's in Thousand Oaks while in college, there was a guy who came in every week. Daughter noticed he always had a Parker on the table, reading. One evening she told him her father was a Parker fan and a wannabe mystery writer.

    He nodded. Said Parker was a friend of his. That was the length and breadth of their conversation.

    A few weeks later, when the guy was in for dinner, he handed daughter a package. She later gave it to me for Christmas. The book was a Spenser. In the flyleaf, Parker wrote, "Never give up." Now, Parker didn't know me from Adam. But I nearly had a stroke when I opened the present and read the note. Small world, huh?

    Mrs. Cur has nearly all the Spenser's, signed by Parker.

    You might like Harlen Coben's Myron Bolitar series. Myron is a sports agent who always finds himself in trouble. His sidekick, whose name I can't recall, is a wealthy whitebread, educated, stone killer.

    'Nuf of my babble.

    Cur

  6. #6
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    Perhaps there are fathers and daughters the country over with similar stories, but yours has got to be one of the best. Tell Mrs. Cur that I'm terribly jealous. I saw a signed, hardback first edition of Looking for Rachel Wallace at a used bookstore once. It was $60 and I was broke. I didn't buy it and have always wished I would have pawned my something-or-another for it.

  7. #7
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    Cur... that is an amazing story. Truly. I can't imagine the emotional equivalent of an experience like that, but I got a chill just reading it.

    As far as the sentence, C K, I'm sure you've gathered by now that my depth would barely submerge a fingernail. I've never read Parker. I'm sure he's great, but I see nothing special in that sentence. Perhaps I lack the intellectual vertical that allows my brain to see beyond the surface, or maybe my literary appreciation falls flat in the face of superfluous curiosity.

    But I actually do think your exercises are viable and your last one generated some great discussion, on a variety of topics. Hell, I learned about apple crisps.

    Good stuff, C K.

    d.

  8. #8
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    I remain loyal to Ring Lardner. I'd love to find the page in "The Young Immigrants" where he wrote, "Shut up, he explained."

    "Ring would eventually abandon the newspaper dodge, moving to New York to become a writer of largely satirical short stories and plays, but his legacy would endure on at least two fronts: One is that to this day a particularly clever or adroit turn of phrase is sometimes described as “Lardneresque.” (Ring’s own most Lardneresque citation – “Shut up,” he explained – came in the pages of a novel called The Young Immigrants )."

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...277148085.html

    *_*

  9. #9
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    Hey C K, let's get to the over-analyzing, because you know we love it.

    First of all - "Shut up." It's a very flat and potentially confrontational thing to say, so you generally only say it (a) to someone you're willing to get in a confrontation with or (b) to someone with whom you have such a solid relationship that they won't take offense because they know you don't mean it as a sign of disrespect. It's not, however, something you would say to someone you acknowledge as a superior.

    "I explained." Well, of course "Shut up" is not an explanation, so there's a bit of ironic humor there. However, it's such a neutral tag that it kind of denatures the "Shut up," makes it less of a confrontational or aggressive order. It gives you the impression that the speaker has been somewhat put upon, that someone has been invading his/her privacy or nudging him/her, and is putting the whole thing to a stop. Or, depending on context, it might imply that the person he/she is speaking to has been going on without really understanding that they are in a bad position, and the speaker is bringing them around to the understanding that they are in very, very deep **** and should shut up now.

  10. #10
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    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    "Shut up, John," she said adoringly.

    *_*

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