Paratalk or Torque?

Suzie Eisfelder

Paratalk or Torque is where I take a paragraph, mostly at random, and talk about it however I wish. It’s an old column I’ve revived. It has fairly broad scope and could go on for ages. Let me know if you get bored, I may not listen though.

Today’s paragraph is from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. For those of you wondering why I would have a copy of this book. I had to study it at uni, I wasn’t happy about it and so this specific copy had been edited…not just by me!

He smiled as he deciphered my expression. “Having the advantages I do,” he murmured, touching his forehead discreetly, “I have a better than average grasp of human nature. People are predictable. But you…you never do what I expect. You always take me by surprise.”

At this point in the book I’m assuming we’re supposed to know that Edward is a vampire and that he’s probably going to celebrate his 170th birthday at some point in the next year. Therefore him indicating he’s got advantages that humans don’t, and in this case he’s talking about his age and how he knows humans just because he’s lived a long time. And that’s a load of croc to me. I know people who have no idea how people work and they’re in the 80s or 90s. The fact that you’re old and have known lots of people doesn’t mean you actually know people, their motives and their actions. It’s just something that needs to be there in order to prove stuff. It’s fairly typical plotting stuff, the writer puts some things in that absolutely need to be there. But what Meyer is trying to make us understand is that Bella is different from everyone Edward has ever known. It’s the old adage of ‘show, don’t tell’. And here we are being told what we need to know rather than being shown.

Having said that, this is pretty normal writing. There’s nothing terribly special about it, no typos, so that’s good. I’m not sure why the use of the ellipsis. The usage of ellipses has been changing and will continue to change over the years. It used to indicate that there was something missing, that the author had omitted some words. Or if you’re using a quote in an essay that you’d reduced the word count of the quote. But this one seems to have been put in to indicate Edward had hesitated as he was speaking. I actually think that’s pretty good. I mean, most people don’t talk in complete sentences with no hesitations. People have hesitations as they are taking time to think of the answer or they use ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or other filler words. One scientist I’ve just been reading about uses (or used, I’m not sure if he’s still alive) ‘nim, nim, nim’. This gives the brain a little thinking time to figure out which words to use next. I have spoken with some people who don’t use any of these hesitations, and I’m in awe of them.

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