CloverReef

Histrionics

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Okay, I need to talk about this because it made me angry. As things usually do when they start calling writers who do a certain thing ‘lazy’. 

http://inventingrealityeditingservice.typepad.com/inventing_reality_editing/2014/09/cut-plot-cliché-of-histrionic-exit.html

I somewhat agree with avoiding cliche plot things, but the histrionics? We’re advising writers to cut bold actions now just because they’re dramatic? People do dramatic things. Some people slam doors when they’re angry. The little gestures like the balling of fists is good advice, but telling the writer not to have characters slam doors just seems totally counter intuitive to me. And Ending a scene on that note, when appropriate, and when it fits the characters and the circumstances, doesn’t seem lazy to me. 

Can I get an “Amen”? Or a “fuck you clovey”? No, really, someone tell me I’m not crazy, please. 

Edit: plus WTF? Since when are we telling writers to delete relevant physical actions? 

Edit 2: This kinda turned into a rant, but it’s meant to be a discussion lol. I’m stressed. Let me be pissy. 

Edited by CloverReef

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     It’s poor form only if there isn’t a reason to be slamming doors.  Teenagers do it all the time but I once saw a guy slam a door so hard it dented the frame and deafened the dude sitting just outside it.  Cliches exist because they are common and are not intrinsically bad, in fact they can be very good if the writer uses them correctly or plays with them.  In the above scenario, it was a very dramatic moment to all who witnessed it, but then it became funny when we found out the door got busted and a guy had ringing in his ear.  TV tropes has things like playing it straight, exaggerated, zig zagged, parodied, deconstructed, reconstructed etc.  How is balling fists less cliched than slamming doors anyways?

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I think this is another case of editing via blog, and it’s unfortunate. It’s on a par with the writing advice word police, who tell us to remove “that” from a manuscript...except the Chicago Manual of Style (6-27) clearly tells us “that” is used for restrictive/essential phrases and “which” is used for nonrestrictive phrases, i.e., the sky filled with clouds that held the promise of a storm versus the sky which was blue.

Look, anything used poorly is awful, I agree. But a blog or writing advice column is not the be-all and end-all for an author. The very best writing shows, not tells, and a good door slamming is a great show.

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I’d say just make sure it’s consistent with the character in question.  Some people do physical damage when they get really angry, others will get even (ie, call out a hit), while others might just suck it up.  Maybe this editor has just seen the door-slam as being overdone, but that’s also a pretty common thing in life.  That said, slamming a door/phone is still among the least violent ways to show anger; which can otherwise be challenging depending on the POV.  (In a first person, sure, you’ve got more options; or even more options if magic is involved...ie Harry Potter.)  Still, if you’re trying to show anger, you have to slam the door on this blog :)

 

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I totally agree if slamming the door is not in the character's 'character' then it is bad. As is absolutely anything else they might do that isn't like them. Like balling their fists if they're super good at hiding emotions. Assuming we're talking about everything written well and in character, then I think that histrionic exit is a powerful tool and removing it for the sake of more stylistic shit would be a mistake. 

I agree with you Praeter too, to a point. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with cliches and there are times when they're absolutely the right thing to do, but in general I would suggest people avoid cliche plot twists/tools just because they are predictable and run the risk of boring the reader. Well maybe not avoid, but use sparingly. 

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:cheers::party:...and As usual, TCR is late for the party!...  Everyone's gone...  Damn it…

From everything I've read, I'll probably end up repeating things here.  But...  Repeating is my middle name, so…

Honestly, I feel this whole blog editing advice is bull for this.  Ending it to make up for a lack of style?  Huh, wonder if anyone told King or Crichton or any number of other major authors that used a slamming door or other (as much as it wasn't used in the post) over the top actions?  If, and this has been pointed out, the character in question is naturally hot headed and prone to outburst, or even if they aren't but emotionally it has set them off in that way so it feels natural, then a slammed door is a good indication.

This isn't lazy or a lack of style, this is making a human character be human.  Humans are, mostly, emotional creatures, for better and worse, and, as such, react emotionally.  If it's set up that A has pissed B off to the point B is fuming like an erupting volcano, then have B erupt.  

That said, in my questionable opinion, it has to be set up properly.  Having an argument that reads like a pair of old grandmas having tea end with a door slam probably isn't the most likely…

That said, I'll stop rambling now.

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Well, I think the blog writer is not really writing for us as his audience. He’s writing for the really new people who don’t include much more to this than the drama queen door slam. We’re already adding emotional description and doorjam breaking.


His essay is actually pretty short, and half is a shill for his service. The meat is almost in this one sentence: “This involves punctuating the end of a scene with a physical action aimed at evoking an emotional response in the reader.” Putting all the emphasis on the door slam, the gun shot, or the choking of the pregnant Senator instead of the rest of the fight. Focusing on the violence of the scene instead of the meaning. Describing and showing the rest is a lot harder than describing the slam.


There’s nothing really wrong with the hint, but it’s a bit simplistic as written. Sort of like coming down hard on a drama queen slam, instead of explaining the whole problem in the scene.


I think that makes it a funny slam, because he’s written the same thing he’s complaining about. And it doesn’t do that much to make his skills look good.

Edited by Anesor
wondering why the font size went all wonky...

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Wow!  Going to the link to see the entire blurb written, I would have to agree that this ‘advice’ does not apply ‘across the board’ and I don’t say that because I’ve used the ‘slamming door’ action to emphasize something a character just said.  I've also used it when that same character was alone but was so completely frustrated or angry there was a need to expend energy. 

I have hot-headed characters as well as those who hide that aspect of themselves from others.  Therefore, in private they react in what would be viewed as a violent manner to release some of the anger or even rage they feel inside.  For example, I have this one character who is viewed by most of the other characters as 'meek and mild' yet she threw a book across the room because she was pissed off.

I feel old cliche's do have a place in writings as long as they fit within the characters established personality and the setting they are used.  Using them does not reflect poor or substandard writing skills, in my opinion.

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The gentleman who wrote that article made some pretty broad generalizations. I wouldn't draw the conclusion that a writer is lazy or simplistic just because they had an angry character slam a door or whatever, especially if the rest of the story itself is just fine. If I was reading a book where some characters were having a heated argument, then generally I would expect someone to have a physical display of anger of some sort (and sometimes you just don’t want to stick around after a fight).

I actually don’t see anything wrong with cliches because you can always put your own twist on them.

Edited by Dirty Unicorn

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In regards to the article, I agree with Desiderius and Dirty.  It was only 187 words with no real explanation of how to use Histrionics other than to say “don’t use it”.  (And yes, I actually checked his word count.)  Honestly, in my opinion, that article was a joke.  Just telling others that such devices shouldn’t be used is a little presumptuous considering there is no context to the advice being given.  The author does not know the degree of writing experience of his audience and does nothing to exaggerate on the meaning he is trying to convey, which leaves the readers confused and unsure of how or whether to use this literary device.  That would be like having a gay character not be flamboyant in any way or having a surfer not use any beach slang.  It also constrains the character and his/her actions within the work and, if a writer is attempting to create a realistic situation with real characters, then such actions like slamming a door or punching a wall or throwing a book would be necessary as they are real-life actions taken by real-life people.

Okay, I’m done ranting now.  :kittenpurr:

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I agree 100% @yukihimedono. The advice in that thing, I found to be pretty damn counter intuitive. I was just completely blown away that a professional would advise writers that way. 

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Professional is not all knowing. He’s not writing for us, people already with some experience and thinking about technique. I maintain it’s a marketing tool for his service. Active blogs are advised for building an audience in multiple sites.  I would be more impressed if his advice was detailed and insightful enough to be useful to more writers, and features what value he adds to my writing.

Fanfic thrives on angst and melodrama, mainstream maybe not so much. He’s suggesting less, and I really wonder what story he read that triggered this less than cohesive blog of frustration. There have been a few stories I read in the Pit where it was all door slamming and tearful accusitions of the LI instead of making the lead interesting or plot engaging.

(Nor is he writing for my one college friend who didn’t understand why I didn’t want to take his rambling unconnected trope-fest into a book or books. He had the income for services, but not the interest in doing the writing.) The blogger’s not writing to editors or readers like telling a war story, there’s no juicy details to make the story interesting in its own right.

Who do you think he writing this for?

Edited by Anesor
clarify

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