The hard parts
Posted February 9, 2011on:
Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, twitter pal Tawna Fenske just snorted and said, “You said hard. Heh.”
Sorry to disappoint you, but ‘hard’ in this blog post refers to ‘challenging’, ‘arduous’, ‘demanding’, even ‘Herculean.’
And somewhere in New York, author Sean Ferrell just snorted and said, “That’s what she said.”
Difficult! That’s the word, people! I’m talking about difficult writing tasks. For some people, it’s writing sex scenes that fills them with dread, for others, it’s dialog, and for pretty much all of us except the Wonder that is Jeff Somers, it’s writing query letters.
I have a long list of writing challenges that I’ve decided to address as part of my 2011 resolutions. I’m writing more short stories because brevity is one of those challenges. Writing riveting opening scenes is another one. But this week on Twitter, tweeps Jessica Lemmon (@lemmony), Patricia McLinn (@PatriciaMclinn) and Heidi Betts (@HeidiBetts) helped me analyze a real thorn in my side.
The problem? Describing the silent laugh people do when something is NOT funny. It’s a “Yeah, right” laugh, full of sarcasm but no mirth. Is it a “snort?” Is it a “snork?” Perhaps it’s a “chortle?” I don’t know and I can’t stand it anymore!
Here are some ways I’ve treated this problem:
- “You’re right,” she shook her head and laughed once. “You always are, even when you aren’t.”
- “Yeah. You would think that.” His face warmed and he managed half a laugh.
- “I love him.” She finally admitted it with a shrug and a soft laugh, a sound that screamed pain.
Why does this bug me so much? I suppose it has ties to my issues with brevity. Why isn’t there a single word that conveys the sort of sarcastic, unhappy, embarrassed anything-but-happy laugh I’ve tried to describe? Why must I use a phrase – indeed, an entire sentence, to describe a single expression?
I’m frustrated. But, as Heidi pointed out, it’s creative writing so we’re allowed to be creative. I’ll continue in my quest to find the perfect way to show the emotion I’m looking for. Meanwhile, are there any parts of writing challenge you?
‘Fess up. I promise I won’t laugh, snort, chuckle or chortle.