Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Jocks That Writers Should Emulate
Certainly there are stigmas with occupations like the socially awkward IT guy, the superficial salesman, engineers who are too literal, and so forth. I'd like to bury the hatchet between two notorious rivals, especially in high school, the dumb jock and the snobby writer.
This shouldn't be hard to do to meet in the middle. After all, Ernest Hemingway was a guy's guy. Not to toot my own horn, but I boxed for a bit. Frank Dorchak, one of my scribe buds, clearly hits the weights. And Jeanne Stein is a black belt!
The athletic organization that I point you to, believe it or not, is the NFL. It seems fitting since, amongst my RMFW and Pike's Peak Pals anyway, that our Broncs bit the dust in the playoffs. We fans twiddling our thumbs now, are looking for a reason to keep watching the grid iron, so why not some literary education from the big oafs in the tight pants? Yes, I'm serious.
First off, there's the running back who just wants to hit the shower, but the reporters hound him with the typical inane questions. Sweating, hobbling, he answers, "Well, you know...we gave it everything and...you know our quarter back was on today...and you know blah blah blah..." This is freakin' gold. Gold I tell ya. That persistent 'you know' typical of lots of sports personalities is called a dialogue marker. You could slap such a verbal crutch on one of your characters and your readers would develop an ear for that person's dialogue. You could even skip the tag 'Evan said,' or 'Roxy smiled,' to identify the talker because the reader knows the speaker by the marker.
Then there are those commentators. Seriously, one of the things that turns me off of a manuscript is the lack of pizazz with word choice. Verbs are a great opportunity for colorful turn of phrase and newscasters like Collinsworth and Aikman are usually pretty good with the action words. On the Cowboys game, a touchdown with some ricocheting off of several blockers summoned, "He spun into the end zone," from the commentator. On an accurate sharp pass, you may hear, "And Manning bullets it to the receiver." Some of these may be a little purple, but at least they boast some passion...you know, man?