Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yes, but what does it really mean?

I just finished writing a section where I had a character flit about, and as I did so, I realized that I’d never seen anyone in real life do that. I’ve seen birds, yes, as they fly from branch to branch. But people? No. Nor have I’ve seen anyone flounce. I know what it evokes—someone turning and swiftly leaving a room (especially if there are doors to slam) usually in a high dudgeon (whatever that means), and mostly likely involving crinolines, gloves, fluttering fans and fights where the blows are verbal and delivered over tea with lethal accuracy by tongues sharp enough to shred lettuce.

Which is why I guess writers use words and phrases that don't really have anything to do with the way people really act. It’s a sort of shorthand, a way to get across in the minimum amount of words an action or reaction. But sometimes that shorthand breaks down and the reader is wondering, okay, what the heck is that? Like when a writer describes someone unclothed as “buck naked.” Uhm, what? Who is Buck and why is his nakedness more absolute than anyone else's? Or my favorite, when a character has a “wild hare”—though to be fair, that’s more a mix up on homonyms than a phrase gone, hah, wild.

Well, back to the flitting character. Maybe I can work a flounce or two in there somewhere. But no bucks or hares. The only animals involved are the two-legged kind—and, yes, that includes Laurel.



*No wildlife was harmed in the making of this post.

6 comments:

  1. the answer I would give is that if you see someone flit the best situation which I could suggest is if you go to a party look for someone who moves from group to group without really having any in depth conversations, too me that flitting.

    As for flounce my big sister managed to do that when she was 15/16 a few times after an arguement with mum lol

    What is "wild hare"

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  2. Well, the actual term is "wild hair up the ass." But that's a little crude, so most just say "wild hair," leaving it to the reader to infer the rest. However, I've also come across "wild hare," which means that the author didn't understand origin of the term, and that the copyeditor missed it. Or maybe they just had bunnies on their mind.

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  3. but what would you use it for? lol i do not like it when people shorten and then use them in the wrong place has to be said

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  5. Heh, tried to amplify previous comment, but couldn't. But, anway, "wild hair" is guy-speak for being obsessed with an idea (usually extreme or foolish) or acting in an unexpected manner. It's the same has having a bee in your bonnet, or doing something out of the blue (or left field), but more manly, I guess.

    For instance: "He had a wild hair about how red M&Ms tasted better than green ones."

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  6. well its a new one but doubt I will ever use it somehow lol I do use the random (in England) or out of left field. But thats too many late shifts at a fast food restaurant in baseball season when they used to show it here

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