so a severed head rolls across the floor and hits your foot. you look down and say, "Jesus!"

or not.

i'm editing page proofs, and i noticed that three of my characters use the same Jesus exclamation in different dramatic situations. this must stop. what would you say if a severed head rolled across the floor in front of you?

holy shit!

holy crap!


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Ah man! And these are new shoes!
Not again ;)
I suppose it depends on the situation. Is this like when a bowling ball you've stored in the closet gets loose? Or is it a complete surprise? Is it someone I love or hate? There are scenarios where I can imagine kicking the rolling head back where it came from.

In real life, assuming the rolling action gives me a little lead time to collect my senses, I probably wouldn't say anything at all.

Of course, you can make one of the characters be Irish so they can say "Jaysus!"
Thinking it through, I'd probably stoop to see what it was (hard to believe it's really a human head without a close inspection) then I'd go into a crouch and look all around me. Kind of like when you come home and your door is wide open and the TV is gone. First reaction is to rub your eyes and ask yourself if it might not have been misplaced (would a 42 inch TV fit in the laundry basket?). Then you make sure the thief (or head chopper) isn't still around watching you.
I know what I'd say: "Jesus!"

Or "Fuck me!"

But as Steven already said, it could depend on the situation. My number one vote goes to Jesus.

who thought you'd seen the light and were making a personal declaration at first...
I'm with Sandra's second choice on this one. However, I have been known to make sound that falls somewhere between a gasp and a squawk and then follow it up with a curse, because being suddenly frightened makes me mad.
i like the idea of kicking it back where it came from. haha!

this was just an example i pulled out for fun. i do like fuck me. that's a good one. that also depends on the character. goddamn. might use that too.
My mom allowed us to say 'shit, bugger, damn, hell' and those were the only words we were permitted. I would have said SHIT! Saying 'Jesus' is no more likely than saying 'Buddha' or 'Mohommed' or any other specific name. The *f* word is more likely. (but then I have kids so language is tame around here anyway)
If it's a complete surprise, I'd suggest saying nothing, or letting some kind of non-word escape your character's throat. I mean, a head--no word can really encompass that kind of shock, can it?

Unless, of course, you want to be lighthearted throughout the book, in which case, your first "Jesus!" is "Jesus!" The second: "Christ!" Third: "Holy Ghost!"

i probably shouldn't have used the severed head scene as my example. that scene does close with the rolling head and no dialog to deflate the image.

L.C. those are good ones!

personally i would probably say son of a bitch! or son of a fucking bitch if i really needed emphasis. i'm gotten kind of paranoid about using the ol' F word, which is how i got into this jesus mess. too many readers have complained about my language. those books also get warnings slapped on them if they're picked up by book clubs. :(

fuck 'em


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