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S-stuttering

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Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
S-stuttering  Reply with quote  

I’ve got a character in my next that stutters. Someone whose opinion I value says the stuttering parts are distracting. I really want to leave them in though.
I haven’t seen many stuttering characters in things I’ve read, so I’m wondering if this is something writers generally avoid. My character doesn’t speak often, and usually not more than a sentence or two.
I want to keep her stutter for a couple of reasons. One, to balance her out some, since other than eating bugs, she’s got a lot going for her in looks and smarts. Also, as a literary device to help move dialog along. I try not to use “he said, she said, etc.” and when one of the main characters stutters, there’s no doubt who’s talking.
Here’s a sample. Maybe someone would like to comment on novelistic stuttering.

***
One reason hardly anyone knew about the oldest bar in Key West is because it isn’t in Key West. The bar with no name is actually on Stock Island, the next island up the Keys.
The Key West Manor Hotel, itself in the middle of the island of Key West, had come with not only a horn-dog handyman, but with a car. The sister’s ride back to the hotel from the bar was a mid-80’s Cadillac convertible beater with a very custom paint-job. There was a hand-painted sunrise on the hood, and a sunset on the truck. Despite being kept in the garage at the hotel, the years of salt air were beginning to take their toll on the old car. Consuelo had already taken it to a shop and had it tuned-up. It looked a little rough, but ran out just fine.
As they pulled out onto A1A, a figure ran out of the bushes and grabbed something from along the side of the road, then disappeared back in the scrub.
“Was that him? The guy from the bar?”
“L-l-looked like him!”
“I guess we know what he had in the newspaper now.” Lydia felt her stomach do a little jump.
The wind had calmed down, and the lights from the land reflected off the flat, black water in the distance. With the top down on the car, it was a nice night for a drive. They drove up the keys for a while just enjoying the night air before turning around in the parking lot of a big new restaurant called Governor’s Chicken Burritos that the sign said was opening soon.
“Hey, that sounds good. Have to give it a try sometime.” Josephine stuck out her tongue, then put a finger in her open mouth. Lydia shrugged.
“You know, one reason we never heard from her for so many years is probably because those cults aren’t real big on their members contacting family.”
“B-brainwashed?”
“Maybe. Though I kind of doubt it if she grabbed some of their stuff and beat it on her own from California down here. I wonder what she was up to?”
“M-m-maybe she went b-b-back to Pine C-Cove, looking for us.”
“If she does, she’s bound to ask around when she finds the Majestic is gone. We did leave her picture and our new address with the flower shop next door.”

Post Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:19 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
DanSRose



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 1034
Location: Brooklyn, NY
 Reply with quote  

It's not distracting. Leave it.
It seems essential for understanding the character. Without it, it'd be like reading a tale of growing up in the South without reading the accents or a Sci-Fi story without the made up science or the funny names in Elves With Giant Swords triologies. It becomes essential in knowing the setting, history, personality, the etcs.
But that's just me.
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Post Fri Sep 16, 2005 11:52 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
jaandlu



Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 4578
Location: Location, location, location.
 Reply with quote  

This brings to mind what Beethoven said "The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 'Thus far and no farther.'"

First of all that's not distracting at all. That's character development. Second of all thanks for the sneak peak.
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Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:31 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
 Reply with quote  

Only one small nit to potentially pick.

Which consonants are stutters most likely to stutter on?

"L"?

Dunno. But a stutterer might.

Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 1:50 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
 Reply with quote  

Taco Bob,

There are some children’s books that deal well with the stuttering issue. On the comes to mind is Ghostyshocks and the Three Scares by Laurence Anholt. I don’t know if it is available in the states but it is a very good book and deals with the issues humorously. I have read it to the kids in my class and they enjoy it a lot.

The words that most stuttering people get stuck on are usually ones with B’s, G’s, C’s and so on. They are the words with hard sounding consonants in them. The cause of stuttering can be many things from a tongue that is not strong or parents and care givers that speak too quickly to the child. It can also be a processing thing where the child’s mind is moving faster than their mouth and they cannot get the words out quick enough and the brain gets backlogged.

FL

BTW: I agree with Palmer that L is kind of a rare letter to get stuck on but it does happen. Also you are writing comedy so you can get away with a few things. Although you may get a few letters and hate mail.
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Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 2:01 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
 Reply with quote  

I seem to remember W being used to geat effect in Shakespeare in Love, but whether that's authentic or not, I have no idea.

The whole question is probably not that hard to research. Maybe not so much on the web -- although Googel can come up with some really surpriseing shit -- as a short call to a speech therapist.

Could be interesting...

Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 3:04 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
 Reply with quote  

Here is some info on stuttering:
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/stutter.asp

FL
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Post Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:38 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Kate R
Guest




 Reply with quote  

Your writing is really fluid. I found myself wanting to read on. Stuttering is a complex issue, as FL was saying, but in this case it made me think of Porky Pig. It could turn out really cool though, so just try to steer it away from the "Porky Pig" thing. Sometimes if people who stutter speak in an accent then the stuttering will go away until they become comfortable with that accent. I learned that in a Communication Disorders class I had to take once. Could be funny in a comedic novel.

Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:26 pm   
Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
 Reply with quote  

Thanks, everybody. I'm feeling better now about leaving the stuttering in Key Witch. And I do agree about getting the actual stutter more realistic. Something I'd already planned for the last round of fine-tuning.

I looked quick through the link Ferrit posted, but didn't find much there (or anyplace else for that matter) to give me a better idea of getting stuttering right in print. I've still got some time though before this one goes to press. Taking a cue from the AG, I plan on a field-trip to Key West before doing final revisions.

thanks again,
TB

Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:06 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
jaandlu



Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 4578
Location: Location, location, location.
 Reply with quote  

Key Witch! I'm excited.
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Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:20 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
jaandlu



Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 4578
Location: Location, location, location.
 Reply with quote  

Just a thought Taco Bob: Why are you posting in "So You Wanna be a Writer" when you already are? I think that's unfair.
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Post Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:22 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
still learning....  Reply with quote  

I haven't been writing long, so I'm still learning from a variety of sources including writing workshops, reading quality books (AG comes to mind!), interviews with writers, and here. I pretty much got my start on the CM Board. Wink

Post Wed Sep 21, 2005 5:29 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
 Reply with quote  

TB, I didn't find it distracting at all. I think that if you didn't write the dialogue like that it would seem untrue to the character. The stutterer says those extra letters, so it makes perfect sense to me to put them in. Looks good from here.
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Post Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:09 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
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