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  1. #11
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    Sep 2010
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    90

    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    I see it as an allusion to Lardner's famous sentence, nothing more, unless there's significant context you've omitted. Looks like Prof. Parker [PhD, English, Boston Univ] was simply having fun.

    Lardner's sentence is kinda public domain now--a few examples:

    Shut Up, He Explained
    Mayor Michael Bloomberg to New Yorkers. By William Kristol
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articl...t-he-explained

    Shut Up, He Explained
    A Yale Law professor gets it all wrong about the First Amendment.
    By Louis Menand Updated Friday, Jan. 24, 1997, at 3:30 AM ET
    http://www.slate.com/id/2940/

    August 7, 2009
    SHUT UP, HE EXPLAINED:
    http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/83111/

    I used to own this book--it's pretty good:
    Shut Up! He Explained: A Writer's Guide to the Uses and Misuses of Dialogue [Paperback]
    by William Noble
    http://www.amazon.com/Shut-Up-He-Exp...5358180&sr=8-2

    It's possible to overanalyze something.



  2. #12
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2010
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    461

    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    I think it says volumes about the person he's speaking to--too dumb to know when to shut up. It also implies a patronizing tone on the part of the speaker.

    I had an advisor in my MFA program who taught me about the necessary silence in dialogue. My tendency is to make my characters say too much, but she walked me through some segments of conversation in one of my stories and pointed out where I needed to stop, to let the full significance of what was said (or unsaid) resonate. I still use that story as a template when I write dialogue. It's amazing how much meaning can be imparted in fewer words, not more.

    My thoughts... And I like Parker, too. I have most of his novels.

    JeanneG

  3. #13
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    Sep 2010
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    508

    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    Jeanne and John H., I think what you guys said here helps me understand why I like it. I think Spencer IS actually explaining with his "Shut up." Like John said, the "shut up" is an explanation that the speaker is going to be in a bunch of trouble very quickly if he doesn't. Like Jeanne said, Parker does this with more white space around his words than words.

    I had no idea that Parker was using this as literary reference to Lardner, too. I rarely get many of Parker's literary references. Thanks, Robin.

    Found this in reference:

    Response to the young narrator's question, "Are you lost, daddy?" in Ring Lardner's humorous novel The Young Immigrunts:

    The lease said about my and my fathers trip from the Bureau of Manhattan to our new home the soonest mended. In some way ether I or he got balled up on the grand concorpse and next thing you know we was thretning to swoop down on Pittsfield.

    Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly.

    Shut up he explained.

    Sometimes quoted as an example of a writer breaking the rules of "good" writing in order to produce better writing. In this case (though of course to dissect humor is to kill it) the father's growing frustration at the misadventures he suffers while moving his family East is more effectively conveyed by the use of a mild and reasonable word like "explained" with a jaw-grinding expression of anger that is anything but an explanation.

  4. #14
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    Aug 2010
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    689

    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    Jeanne,

    Glad you're a Parker fan. Speaks well of you!

    Parker's books were shorter than most of us recognize. Heavily weighted to dialogue. That leads to lots of white space. Wide margins. And like that, especially later in his career. Don't for a second take that as me dissing Mr. Parker. I'm not. Just offering an observation from reading pretty much everything he ever wrote. He had the chops to carry off anything he wanted to write.

    His few westerns, all late in his time here, are just like the Spenser books. Studies in dialogue and short punchy sentences to set the scene.

    The Jesse Stone tales are as good as the Spenser ones. I loved Suit and the female deputy whose name I can't remember right now.

    Okay, 'nuf of that.

    My real reason for posting, at the risk of loud boos, orange peels and wadded cocktail napkins thrown at me, is this.

    I kinda think we're trying to pick fly **** out of the pepper with this analysis of what Parker was doing with the sentence CK posted.

    to all

    Cur

  5. #15
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    Sep 2010
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    508

    Re: Shut-up Exercise

    We've had guests for the last week so I've hardly had any writing time to try to apply something from this sentence to my WIP. This morning as I was looking for a sorry sentence to enliven, I started thinking that I may apply odd dialog tags as a regular thing for one of my characters. Her POV sections are in journal form, first person, present tense, and she's kooky. Weird tags, I think, would tell the reader even more about her. I went through and peppered several of her journals with off tags just to remind myself to give this a try as I write. Even if I end up taking them out, it's kinda fun and it adds a layer of kookiness to her reported conversations.

    Here's one of several . I just changed out "say."


    “I’m still not pregnant,” I repeat.

    “Okay.” She winks as Tamarack pats my stomach. “We won’t tell anyone.”

    “Get your hands off me,” I clarify. This whole operation is all about timing, perfect timing, and I can’t let these YurtChicks distract me.

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