训练自己:不要用“想”动词

美国名编剧、小说家恰克·帕拉尼克(Chuck Palahniuk,《搏击俱乐部》小说原作者)曾在2013年发表了一篇传授写作经验的文章。

在文中他提到了一个秘诀,即把文章中的各种“想”动词(“Thought” Verbs)去掉,代之以具体细节。

“去展示,而不是告知(show, don't tell)。”

什么是“想”动词?以下列举一些:

觉得(Think)

知道(Know)

懂得(Understand)

意识到(Realize)

相信(Believe)

想要(Want)

想起(Remember)

想象(Imagine)

想要(Desire)

思忖(Wonder)

爱(Love)

恨(Hate)

好的描写让读者感受到人物之所“想”,而不是简单告知你人物的想法。

我们可以用一个场景作为例子:

“Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take.”

马克一边等车,一边开始担心起这趟旅行要多长时间。

上面这句话就是一个简单的陈述,至于马克为什么要担心,有多担心,你可能很难感同身受。

这就是我们需要将“担心”这个想动词分解的地方:

The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…

时间表上写公交车中午前就能到,但马克看手表时已经11:57了。一眼望到路的尽头,能看到购物中心,但一辆公交车也没有。毫无疑问,司机停在了这条路那一头的中转站,正在打瞌睡,而马克就快要迟到了。或许更糟糕的是,司机在喝酒,然后他会醉醺醺地停下车,收马克75分钱,却将他的性命断送在惨烈的交通事故中。

经过这样的描写,读者能知道马克的更多细节:巴士还没真的迟到,马克就已经开始担心了;他对司机很不信任;他还有点生气,已经开始想象最糟糕的场景:这次旅途将会要了他的命。几句描写,就能大致勾勒出马克的性格特点。

帕拉尼克在文章中说道:

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them.

不能仅仅说人物“知道”,你要给出足够的细节,让读者也“知道”。

Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

如果人物“想要”什么东西,你就要描述这件东西,让读者也想要得到它。

写作者需要做的就是将表达想法的动词圈出来,将其重新藏在动作和言语等丰富多样的细节之中,自然地表现出来。

“想”动词还有很多,除了上面列举的,连“是(is)”和“有(have)”等等都可纳入这个范畴,那么该如何通过细节来引起读者的兴趣和共情,想人物之“想”呢?

让我们一起来看看帕拉尼克给出的例子吧。

Wonder 思忖

✖ Kenny wondered if Monica didn't like him going out at night…

肯尼在想,也许莫妮卡不喜欢他晚上出去玩……

✔ The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he'd had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she'd only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.

有时候肯尼玩到凌晨,错过了最后一班公交车而不得不靠搭顺风车或打的回家,回到家就看到莫妮卡在装睡,因为她真睡着时不会这么安静。每次他晚归后的次日早晨,莫妮卡就只加热她自己的那杯咖啡,绝不帮他热咖啡。

Know 知道

✖ Adam knew Gwen liked him.

亚当知道格温喜欢他。

✔ Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he'd go to open it. She'd roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her ass. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.

课间,亚当去开储物柜时,总发现格温倚在那儿。她会翻个白眼,蹬一脚喷漆金属柜门走开,留下一个黑色的鞋跟印,同时也留下了她的香水味道。组合锁上还留着她臀部的温度。下个课间,格温又会倚在那儿。

Is/Have 是/有

✖ Ann's eyes are blue. / Ann has blue eyes.

安娜的眼睛是蓝色的。/ 安娜有着蓝色的眼睛。

✔ Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…

安娜咳了一下,抬起手在脸前扇了扇,将香烟烟雾从眼睛前赶走,那是一双蓝色的眸子,然后她微笑起来……

帕拉尼克强调,想要人物生动立体,没有什么捷径好走,唯有通过可感知的细节一点点塑造。以下几句是他的经验之谈,值得一看:

► Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.

你的故事如果这样写会更加有力:只展示人物的动作和细节,让读者去思考和了解,去爱、去恨。

► Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

比起用平淡的“是”或“有”,尽量将人物“是”或“有”的特质藏在动作或姿态等细节之中。最基本的是,去展示你的故事,而不是告知别人。

► Better yet, get your character with another character, fast. Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You — stay out of their heads.

想更好一点的话,让你的人物遇到另一个人物,越快越好。让他们互动起来。让他们用行动和语言展示他们的想法。而你——远离他们的脑海。

法国著名作家福楼拜曾说:“艺术家在他的作品中,应当像上帝在造物中一样,销声匿迹,而又万能,到处感觉得到,就是看不见他。”

大文豪福楼拜塑造了《包法利夫人》中浪漫奔放的艾玛·包法利,诗人歌德塑造了《少年维特之烦恼》中多情善感的维特,但他们都收起了自己的道德评判,隐藏起自己的喜恶与感情,让人物与大环境冲撞沉浮、随着自身性格与抉择走向他们自己选择的悲剧命运。

在真正的作家笔下,人物有自己的生命,他们的故事由自己的性格与遭遇来决定,走向自己的结局,而不被作家左右。

回忆起看过的经典文学作品,哪怕情节随着时间的流逝逐渐模糊,书中的经典人物却始终鲜活,陪着我们长大。

J.K.罗琳在《哈利·波特与凤凰社》中塑造新角色“疯姑娘”卢娜·洛夫古德时,写到她十分夸张的大笑:

She let out a scream of mirth that caused Hedwig to wake up and flap her wings indignantly and Crookshanks to leap up into the luggage rack, hissing. She laughed so hard that her magazine slipped out of her grasp, slid down her legs, and onto the floor.

她爆发出一阵尖锐的笑声,海德薇被她吵醒了,愤怒地拍打着翅膀,克鲁克山则跳上了行李架,嘶嘶出气。卢娜笑得太疯,连手上的杂志都抓不住了,顺着腿滑落到地上。

"That was funny!"

“太搞笑了!”

Her prominent eyes swam with tears as she gasped for breath, staring at Ron.

卢娜盯着罗恩,笑岔了气,她鼓突的眼睛里笑出了眼泪。

卡勒德·胡赛尼在《追风筝的人》中描写青涩少年阿米尔对少女索拉雅的心动:

And when Sunday mornings came, I rose from bed, Soraya Taheri's brown-eyed face already in my head. In Baba's bus, I counted the miles until I'd see her sitting barefoot, arranging cardboard boxes of yellowed encyclopedias, her heels white against the asphalt, silver bracelets jingling around her slender wrists. I'd think of the shadow her hair cast on the ground when it slid off her back and hung down like a velvet curtain.

等到星期天早晨来临,我从床上起来,索拉雅·塔赫里的脸庞和那双棕色的明眸已然在我脑中。坐在爸爸的巴士里面,我暗暗数着路程,直到看见她赤足坐着,摆弄那些装着发黄的百科全书的纸箱,她的脚踝在柏油路的映衬下分外白皙,柔美的手腕上有银环叮当作响。一头秀发从她背后滑落,像天鹅绒幕布那样垂下来,我想象着她的头发投射在地上的影子怔怔出神。

寥寥数段之间,一个个性格鲜明的人物跃然纸上,人物之间的情愫也刻画得十分到位。

人物是小说的灵魂,而通过细节为人物注入灵魂的方法,你学会了吗?

编辑:左卓

实习生:梁诗卿