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Expressions with non-literal meanings

Crumbly Writer

I used the following line in a new story, where "Phil" is in a separate room from the person he's speaking to (via bluetooth earphones).

"All right," Phil nudged her, speaking in her ear, "everyone's waiting."

Am I nuts using "nudge" as "prompt" while many readers may read it as "poke", or do you think readers are smart enough to understand what I'm saying?

After all, it's not like he can physically nudge her from another room.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

"All right," Phil nudged her, speaking in her ear, "everyone's waiting."


add in something to show it's a verbal nudge and all is clear - I suggest something like this:

"All right," Phil gave her a verbal nudged, speaking in her ear, "everyone's waiting."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

add in something to show it's a verbal nudge and all is clear

If I include something as kludgy as "verbal nudge", I might as well say "Phil prompted her". The "nudge" was suppose to be an easily recognized short cut, replacing a 'pushing someone who's reluctant' instead of 'told her to continue'.

If "nudge" doesn't work, I'll probably drop the entire thing, going with:

"All right,"Phil said, "everyone's waiting."

instead. Readers already know they communicate via earbuds though a Plexiglass window.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Am I nuts using "nudge" as "prompt"


It's fine. I knew what you meant.

You're using it as goad, egg on, encourage.

Ross at Play

I think the meaning is clear and I can't find any alternative that is suitable.
I can imagine a tone of voice being used to prompt and coax someone to do something that feels awkward.
The only reasonable alternative I can see is changing the words 'All right' to something like 'It's time' or 'Buckle Up'.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

The "nudge" was suppose to be an easily recognized short cut,


Except nudge by itself is a physical action with contact between the two people, as in, "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink."

Ross at Play

I think the most relevant question when considering anything unorthodox is whether you have established the trust of your readers.
I think your readers will have seen you choosing precisely the right word often enough to not suspect 'nudged' is a mistake, and they'll make the interpretation you intend.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
joyR

@Crumbly Writer

"All right," Phil nudged her, speaking in her ear, "everyone's waiting."


"Her reply absolutely floored him........ "

So either she has a verbal command that turns his bluetooth device into a Tazer, or.....

I think you have to credit your readers with the intelligence to interpret your characters speech in the same way that they undoubtedly fill in other blanks, rather than catering to the pedantic.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The only reasonable alternative I can see is changing the words 'All right' to something like 'It's time' or 'Buckle Up'.

The "All right," was intended as a sign of exasperation, rather than encouragement, though I'll admit it's not the strongest term (weak phrasing again). But it does convey, 'let's get this over with already'.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Except nudge by itself is a physical action with contact between the two people, as in, "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink."

I love your example, as it includes no physical actions, only implied physical actions. 'D

By the way, according to Dictionary.com:

Nudge
verb (used with object), nudged, nudging.
1. to annoy with persistent complaints, criticisms, or pleas; nag:
He was always nudging his son to move to a better neighborhood.
verb (used without object), nudged, nudging.
2. to nag, whine, or carp.

But it this case, it's more 'egg-on', encourage, prompt.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I think your readers will have seen you choosing precisely the right word often enough to not suspect 'nudged' is a mistake, and they'll make the interpretation you intend.

Thanks. That puts the question into the best context anyone could offer.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

Except nudge by itself is a physical action with contact between the two people,


It also means to goad or encourage and that's how CW is using it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It also means to goad or encourage and that's how CW is using it.

Why is it so difficult for authors (and readers, in another thread) to accept that words can have more than one meaning? Which is my point in asking this questions: if authors have trouble wrapping their minds around different meanings of the same word, then how likely are readers to object to a non-literal meaning?

That was a rhetorical question, by the way. There's no need to replay.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I love your example, as it includes no physical actions, only implied physical actions. 'D


Actually, that comes from a very old English comedy line where the characters are talking with heavy innuendo at one uses his arm to simulate nudging someone beside them while saying, "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

That was a rhetorical question, by the way. There's no need to replay.


There is when you repeat it 9 times.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

There is when you repeat it 9 times.

More like 90. Luckily, it fixed my keyboard freezing every couple characters, though it took almost an hour to delete them all.

I suspect my computer may finally be near dying.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Actually, that comes from a very old English comedy line where the characters are talking with heavy innuendo at one uses his arm to simulate nudging someone beside them while saying, "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more."

We all know it, as it was Monty Python. You'd have to have been dead for the twentyth century to have missed it.

red61544

@Crumbly Writer

When you can't find a good way to say it, don't say it at all if it can be eliminated. "All right," Phil said. "Everyone's waiting; it's time!"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@red61544


When you can't find a good way to say it, don't say it at all if it can be eliminated. "All right," Phil said. "Everyone's waiting; it's time!"


While it's not necessary, I like to remind readers that they're in separate rooms, since they haven't communicated like this for a couple of chapters. Once I establish that they're in different rooms, I drop the "speaking in her ear" reminders (only one per chapter, or less if they're in subsequent chapters).

I didn't want readers to say "Huh? How the heck is he talking to her if they're in different rooms?" It's hard to guess what readers will remember after several chapters (often after a couple weeks). Also, in some chapters they are in the same room (depending on circumstances), so it's important to note the differences.

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@Crumbly Writer

How the heck is he talking to her

"Using the bluetooth, Phil said, "All right, everyone's waiting. It's time!"

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