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Explanations to some writing jargon (add at will)
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SYSTEM
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Joined: 30 Jul 2004
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Location: Sierra Hotel.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:23 pm    Post subject: Explanations to some writing jargon (add at will) Reply with quote

For now this thread will remain open, we'll see where this goes. Please keep your posts serious and on-topic, otherwise I will zap them without warning.

I recieved a few questions about some of the more 'obscure' figures of speech, so I figured it's time to start a thread about this for reference. I'll start us off.



March 06 08 Update - I found some useful links.

http://mrbraiman.home.att.net/lit.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_technique



Some of these terms may be applicable only to HBOFF.

Jumping the Shark - When a show attempts to bring in new things to boost sagging ratings by veering off into different tangents. At the time of the 'shark jump' the show, or whatever this is applied to can become hard to believe (see suspending disbelief) and after jumping the shark, will suffer a noticeable decline in quality.

Gun Porn - Refers to endless description of a characters weapon that seems disproportionate to all the other description in the narration. Often a sign of authors wanting their characters to have something a little more 'extra special.' Extra-special weapons can be one of the earliest but most telltale hints of Super Marine Syndrome or Sueness. (see: Mary Sue, Super Marine Syndrome)

Mary Sue - An overidealized, perfect, too-good-to-be-true character that is hard to believe and ends up sucking the potential out of a story. More formally called a 'wish fufilment character' or 'author surrogate character.'
See also:
The Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test
Related:
'Super Marine Syndrome' - When a so-called 'ordinary' soldier begins to exhibit fantastical, unbelievable master-chief-like qualities for apparently no reason at all (or for a reason that will be revealed 'later'). Marines dual wielding, shrugging off a hit and continuing to fight, or resisting a flood infection for no apparent reason, or just because 'they're strong and tough' are all examples of symptoms of 'super marine syndrome.' Super Marine Syndrome often strains a story's believability and could be the onset of a Mary-Sue developing.

Cameo Appearance - Where a person known elsewhere makes a short and usually fairly minor appearance in another medium.

Suspension of Disbelief - The ability of an audience to intentionally overlook the limitations of a fictionary work. Note that this is a controversial definition, others may be more willing to suspend disbelief to a greater extent than others. The more unrealistic a story gets, the more an audience must suspend disbelief. Some will only go so far before declaring a story unrealistic or unbelievable.

Miracle Magic Metal of Doom - More commonly called 'Unobtainium,' 'Handwavium' - This term describes one of two (or both) things: One, when an author describes pushes existing materials far beyond tensions or conditions in which in real life they would normally fail, or two, a fictional can-do-everything metal that strains believability, such as having Adamantium in a non-magic universe, or some kind of 'made up' metal like 'omgwtfpwn-ium.' There are only a certain number of elements in the periodic table, and for good reason; molecules can only get so large before they start to fall apart. (see also: Ti-n00b)

Ti-n00b - A person who believes Titanium is a Miracle Magic Metal of Doom and is indestructible or would be a good replacement for treated steel. Contrary to popular belief, while some alloys of Titanium may be lighter and stronger than mild steels, it is by no means a suitable way to replace the tougher, harder treated steels and carbon steels. Titanium may be lighter and stronger than mild iron and mild steels and stronger than aluminum but there is no such thing as a free lunch, it is not as strong or as wear-resistant as the more high-end steels.

Text Wall of Doom - An unreadable, illegible big wall of nothing but text with no formatting. Most people don't want to read text walls of doom and will simply pass them and leave an unflattering comment about coding and formatting.
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Last edited by SYSTEM on Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:30 am; edited 6 times in total
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirking - (also called 'Captain Kirk Syndrome') Coined after Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek, 'kirking' describes when a character falls in love, and enters a bonding relationship, only to have that relationship end abruptly, after which, despite attempts to make the breakup seem dramatic, have no repercussions, no consequences, no emotional backlashes, and are never heard of, discussed, or encountered again. Kirking not only strains believability but is also one of the biggest symptoms of mary-sue-ishness.

Breakout Character - (also called "Fonzie Syndrome") A character that is introduced to play a minor role, but somehow manages to become the star of the show or a pivotal character.

- Dave.
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cardboard cutout character -Also called 'cutout character' or just 'cutout' A cardboard cutout character is a named substitute for a character meant to fill in roles around a protagonist to flesh out the cast but do nothing more; a cardboard cutout character has no history, no backstory, doesn't develop at all, but makes enough appearances and spends enough time in the spotlight to allow the audience to start to wonder or want these things. [i]See also:stock character

stock charcter - A stock character is a character based loosely or entirely on stereotypes associated with their personality, and lacks complexity, depth, or strength of character. A stock character can be confused with a cardboard cutout character; the main difference is that a cardboard character simply lacks justification for their role, having no history or backstory and no development, a stock character is a cliche with no personality of their own.

- Dave.
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deus Ex Machina - This has its origins in Greek theatre. Basically and literally it stands for divine influence, when a God comes down and resolves a situation the characters can't find their way out of - that's the most extreme example. Another example would be when a character suddenly 'overcomes' a delibitating fear for no apparent reason, or somehow finds, by 'sheer luck' something that will get him or her out of a situation. A Deus Ex Machina is generally the mark of a poorly-thought out plot, or just an author being lazy. Occasionally they can be used in satire, although it is best to avoid it.

Stormtrooper Effect - Also known as 'The Law of Inverse Accuracy' or 'Principle of Evil Marksmanship'. The Stormtrooper Effect describes when 'bad guys' cannot hit good guys (often despite superior weapons and training) even though good guys can inexplicably hit bad guys.

Plot Immunity - When a main character cannot die no matter what happens in the plot. In the end it all boils down to the protagonist locked in a death trap and surviving, to nobody's surprise. Plot immunity just sucks the life out of a story by making things bland and predictable.
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Last edited by SYSTEM on Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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DraconicDreams
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OC: Original character. A character you invent and insert into a given fandom... often at risk of becoming Mary Sues.
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Archangel_7
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Lone Wolf' Syndrome:

An offshoot of Mary Sueism wherein a (usually original) character acts with personality traits that are substantially different than others from the same background or organization with little or no justification given. This is usually done to the effect of making the character seem cooler more 'badass' than others.

An example would be a normal Spartan saying "F*ck you!" and punching a commanding officer out of simple rage.
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Redshirt - (Also called cannon fodder,) Named after the nameless, backgroundless characters in Star Trek who always die first in any combat scenario, a Redshirt is a stock character that is sent into battle just to be killed off to make the enemies seem greater so the protagonist looks even stronger when he evades their shots and defeats them singlehandedly. Contrary to the author's intentions to make the combat scene more believable by having people die, it's easy to see an author 'redshirting' (writing in lots of redshirts) from a mile off. Redshirting leads to very predictable outcomes quickly. See also: Plot immunity.
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Last edited by SYSTEM on Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Redshirt

That is where I picked the definition up from, it reads as follows:

Quote:
A redshirt is a stock character, used frequently in science fiction but also in other genres, whose purpose is to die soon after being introduced, thus indicating the dangerous circumstances faced by the main characters. The term comes from the science fiction television series Star Trek, in which security officers wear red shirts and are often killed on missions under the aforementioned circumstances.

Star Trek series, security officers, who wear red, meet tragic ends in many episodes. Typically, a landing party includes at least one red-shirted security officer who is dead soon after the mission begins.

In the Pocket Books Star Trek novel Killing Time, a time-tampering plot twist turns Captain James T. Kirk into an ensign. While he is dressing for duty, a fellow crew member says, "Let's just say that on this ship or probably any other you don't want to wear a red shirt on landing-party duty."

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Last edited by SYSTEM on Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hellsing's Syndrome - Also called: 'Gun wankery,' 'Hellsing Syndrome' I coined this in general mockery of the anime it's named for. Hellsing's Syndrome refers to the practise of authors, in particular, anime authors, who equip their characters with, or design impractical, implausible, or generally overbuilt and incredibly overpowered weaponry, or weaponry that contradicts certain laws of physics, disregards material strengths, or existing laws and rules, such as portraying a rimmed cartridge (example, the .454 Casull round, in Hellsing, the anime) as a rimless one. The justification for equipping characters with such specialized equipment, or blatantly powered, overdescribed, or overdone weapons may not provided, or if it is, is weak and debatable, or simply 'because it looked cooler.' Related: Gun Porn, Super Marine Syndrome
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Backdrop effect - Also called 'Backdropping.' - This term I coined to refer to when writers tell, and don't show their settings. One prime example of this would be to simply slap down a name and location stamp at the beginning of a chapter, and give no description of where the setting is. The result is a static, transparent, or in some cases nonexistent setting, much like a bland backdrop that cannot move or show any depth.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wankery - Refers to portraying or exaggerating the strength or awesomeness of anything to unrealistic or unbelievable proportions, or portraying something to do something it can't. One extreme example of this would be to portray the Orbital-based MAC cannons seen at Reach as planet-destroying weapons capable of cracking a star in half with a single shot and being able to reload instantly. See also: Mary Sue, Unobtainium/Handwavium/Magical Miracle Metal of Doom, Super Marine Syndrome, Hellsing's Syndrome.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wankery (2) - May also refer to the overuseage, glorification, or romanticism of the object/person/people/thing/universe being wanked.

Technobabble - Technobabble is the process of (or used to describe) using long, overly dramatic jargon-filled scientific-sounding description that often boils down to pseudoscience to try and make the author or characters sound more knowledgeable. Star Trek is notorious for this. The difference between technobabble and legitimate technical jargon is that technobabble, when freely translated, amounts to nonsense, whereas legitimate technical jargon is meant to inform those who also have some expertise. Technobabble can also apply loosely to writers bending or breaking laws of physics to form plot devices or do whatever they want to do.
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P.F.M - Acronym for "Pure Fucking Magic" - Refers to the practise of not explaining or avoiding explaining how a miraculous machine/device works, as opposed to attempting to offer a technobabble or halfassed explanation. PFM is often preferrable to technobabble, which can easily be debunked by someone with even a slight amount of knowledge in the particular area. See also: Unobtainium, Handwavium, Magical Miracle Metal of Doom, Technobabble.

Special thanks to Wiley K. for this definition.
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Marty
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avant-garde "pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm." - w'pedia

In writing, IMO, it can come off as posh, needlessly 'artsy', pretentious, overly-academic, etc. Smile
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SYSTEM
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Feather Duster Scene - This term goes back to the days before we had colour TV. During a 'feather duster scene,' two maids, one old, and one young would come in and clean a room, and the old one would talk about the 'master' to the new one. This was a way for movie wrights to tell about the lead character without appearing on screen and say, "Hey, the lead character you're about to see behaves like this and this and this and..." Unfortunately, doing that would've been just as effective and shown the same quality of writing. Feather duster scenes are boring red herrings and should be avoided.
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