Dragon

Pet Peeves Regarding Terminology

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I know this is a bit of a personal peeve for many writers, because overusing any single word is generally considered bad form even though in many cases there aren’t an abundance of options. For example, “said” is probably one of the most prolifically disliked terms in the writing world. 

 

I, for example, catch myself using words like “mumble, mutter, grumble” in one of my favorite settings because the world it takes place in is riddled with mutants, bandits and all sorts of dangers that require the characters involved to be quiet probably more often than not. This is combined with the fact that both of the boys I use most tend to be surly assholes.

Problematically, there isn’t much flexibility in synonyms for some terms like these. “mutter” and “murmur” are both soft spoken, often difficult to hear utterances; but the former generally has specific connotations of irritation or dissatisfaction so they can’t be fluidly interchanged in many cases.

 

“Laugh” is another one that bugs me. Most words considered synonymous with laugh have specifically distinct connotations – chortling, chuckling, guffawing, and cackling are all completely different sounds and do not convey the same imagery.

 

So down to the simplified issue.What terms, if any, often serve as pet peeves for you? This can be in your own writing, or things that stand out when reading something penned by another part - for example the rampant misuse of "literally" or things like "wolf speak". 

 

 

 

Edited by Dragon

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Most of mine are more annoyances with the way people talk about roleplay rather than in roleplay scenes. For example the term headcanon... For the longest time I had no idea what this meant. No one really wanted to explain what it was. After a while I did figure out what it meant. But then I just thought it was an absolutely stupid word. And then every time after that it just annoyed me a bit because I felt it was a touch arrogant to have these own little ideas of how characters really are. Especially if someone felt their version was superior to the original creator's work. 

Edited by VirusZero
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The terms "a bit" and "slightly" when used in terms of actions. "he smiled a bit" "they shrugged slightly" there are better ways to describe some of them and I feel that people use it as a cop out. I actually noticed I used to do it and I'm better now although I think I still use it on occasion but I try really hard. not to use those as a descriptor where possible.

 

@Dragon

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It's not against you. A LOT of people do it because they don't realize that there are different ways to describe a smile depending on the situation and what you are trying to accomplish. Like it's something I've noticed a LOT of roleplayers do. <33

 

@Dragon

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I think the one that got to me the most was "smiled slightly" when it's likely a "soft smile" or "smirk" and when I started to notice this I realized that I did it too and that I would try to stop because it's not a good descriptor. Different types of smiles mean different things and are often readable by other people.

 

@Dragon

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I do the 'slight' thing as well, but in my case I consider it more a weird limitation of the English language. Off the top of my head, I can't think of many different descriptions of smiles. There's a grin, which tends to be deeper and has teeth, or opening. There's beam, which is grin only bigger and more enthusiastic. There's a smirk, which is more playful and knowing. There's a plain smile, which is closed. In my mind a soft smile is a little deeper than a slight one. A slight smile is more indecisive. The closest might be 'a tiny' or 'a weak,' but in a lot of people's minds 'a weak' has negative conceptions almost like saying 'a pained.'

 

In my case, I don't use it out of laziness, but because 'slight' while a weaker descriptor, it's more neutral. Using words like small, tiny, or weak, can transfer beyond actions and into aspects of the character that one doesn't want. With people making odd assumptions about characters, this can be a problem. I just checked my thesaurus and this is what I got: small, minor, unimportant, trivial, insignificant, slender, slim, delicate, feeble. Out of those, small, minor, slender, slim, and delicate have the least amount of baggage, they're certainly better descriptors. Yet, half are clear negative descriptors. Also while slender and slim work for smile, they seem more unnatural shrug. Delicate? Maybe. Otherwise, we're down to variations of small (minor, tiny, etc.).

 

Lastly, I think the reason why 'slightly' comes up so often isn't the slight but the -ly. Out of those descriptors, the only rough equivalent is delicately when you add that -ly. Thus, we have "He smiled slightly," vs. "He gave a small smile." The one used tends to be which one has the more natural feel and is quicker rather than what is the best descriptor. Note three words vs. five.

 

I'll keep this in mind as I do find that I do this and would like to get a bit better. I wanted to add my thoughts because I think its rampant use is more complex than simple laziness.

 

@Morrigan, @Dragon

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The big issue on my site is usually terminology for reproductive organs and the act itself. Though on the flip side, we have one member who is VERY creative, and no one can take the posts seriously. 

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22 hours ago, duchess said:

The big issue on my site is usually terminology for reproductive organs and the act itself. Though on the flip side, we have one member who is VERY creative, and no one can take the posts seriously. 

I do this pretty much any time someone happens to mention a man's dangly bits. I just start listing off phrases for them until someone murders me.

 

Back on topic... I hate "orbs" for eyes. 

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Ohhhh man.

 

I hate when people refer to their character through narrative as "the boy." Your character is 19. He's not a boy, and he'd never refer to himself as such.

 

Actually, I find all of those sorts of one word "names" for characters to be annoying because they drag me out of the flow of the narrative. I know people are trying to not repeat themselves by using pronouns and the character name over and over, but these descriptives just don't fit. Personally, I use a very tight narrative in the sense that it's almost first person; I use terms the character would use, and I don't do anything remotely omniscient. I'd much rather erase and restructure my sentences to keep in line with this than to break it by using awkward terminology not consistent with the character.

 

Even if someone is using a more distant narrative in their posts, these weird descriptors break the flow. Another example is when someone refers to their character by hair color, especially using "the blond" to describe a male. Perhaps technically correct, but it isn't how the character would refer to himself. "The blond shook his head."

 

Similarly, I dislike when people use alternates to said/laugh/etc for diversity and end up conveying a weird or inconsistent image. I'd rather have people use the plain ol' word than to have guffawing and smirking and grunting when it doesn't add anything to the writing.

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One thing that drives me nuts in threads with same gendered characters is trying not to use pronouns overly much. But, as a result, I wind up saying "the other woman" or the like a ton. And I recognize I'm doing it. And it annoys me so.

 

Also, "wolfspeak" from back in the day. Orbs for eyes, plumes for tails, etc. 

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@Uaithne were they native speakers? Because I learnt only quite recently that in English "boy" essentially means "kid". In my native language, the world most commonly translated as "boy", "ragazzo", is used to describe anyone young or not old. Using it for someone in their late 30s is debatable, but acceptable if they are youthful, aren't married with children etc... and surely would apply to a 19 years old. A 19 calling themselves a man on the other hand would be weird. Nuances like this aren't obvious when you learn another language.

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