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Old 05-22-2013, 10:10 PM View Post #1 (Link) Ordinary
ukuleleblack (Offline)
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DO you think you can describe a person as ordinary? Some books will do this to describe a character, do you think it's effective? Is there such a thing as ordinary?
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:40 AM View Post #2 (Link)
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Very few people actually describe themselves as ordinary because they like to think they're special or unique. Since ordinary is what the majority of people are, then surely people who say they're ordinary are now weird. That means that the people who describe themselves as weird are actually ordinary.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:35 PM View Post #3 (Link)
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I don't think anyone is "ordinary" per se, as I do beleive most people have a personality that is unique, etc. etc. However, I do think, under the right circumstances, you could describe someone as ordinary. There's a sort of look that just looks "ordinary" and you know it when you see it.

A lot of description in books is like this, for me. I read a description and wonder what the hell it's supposed to mean, and sometime I'll meet someone and think "oooh, that's what that is." The most recent example was one author who kept reusing the phrase "shit-eating grin." I had no idea what a shit-eating grin looked like, until I met someone who most definitely had a shit-eating grin. It's entirely subjective, of course, just as describing someone as ordinary is. Everyone has their own idea of what ordinary looks like, but then again, everyone has a different idea of what blonde hair looks like, when you get down to the nitty gritty like shade, highlights, and lighting.

I have used the description of ordinary on my characters before. Sometimes, because I want to avoid a cast of characters that's all super-attractive, but I also don't want to go so far as to call one unattractive (because that's even more subjective) I'll refer to them as ordinary. It's sort of a neutral zone, for me. An "ordinary" person can still be attractive, just in a very flat way. I've met people I'd describe as looking ordinary, but they're still pretty or somewhat handsome, just not in a very inspiring way.

Really, I don't think it matters whether the thing you describe really exists or not. What matters is if the reader thinks it exists and can fill in the image when you describe it.
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Old 05-31-2013, 02:59 PM View Post #4 (Link)
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it's a placeholder. you can fill it with whatever you like but usually the reader will fill it with nothing. its not a useful technique because if you use it to describe a character where its not important what they look like (background characters etc.) its pointless information. if you use it to describe a more main character youre handing the reader a blank slate and blank slates are more often than not confusing. also, if you really think about it, no one looks ordinary.
going to assume you meant not just in terms of appearance. everyone has a defining feature or features. everyone stands a certain way, carries themselves in a certain way, talks in a certain way etc. you'd be hard pressed not to find something interesting about someone if you were looking. at the end of the day it falls down to a lack of imagination.
not to mention that ordinary as a word is empty. its subjective and not really loaded with many concrete connotations. you can describe ordinary in an interesting way though, if you try. maybe that'd be a fun exercise.
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Old 05-31-2013, 05:26 PM View Post #5 (Link)
Georgy (Offline)
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Originally Posted by ukuleleblack View Post
DO you think you can describe a person as ordinary? Some books will do this to describe a character, do you think it's effective? Is there such a thing as ordinary?
"For a true artist does not exist such a notion as ordinary thing, but there are times when the divine light goes off and everything appears painted in a dirty gray color."
Georgy.
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Old 05-31-2013, 06:29 PM View Post #6 (Link)
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I dislike it. I don't think it really says anything because it's so broad and subjective. You might describe someone as ordinary, and then their behavior, to the reader, might not be all that ordinary, or their appearance.
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Old 06-01-2013, 12:23 AM View Post #7 (Link)
ukuleleblack (Offline)
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I guess that I think that ordinary is a bit overused. Like, her face was ordinary. What does that even mean? It could be different from everyone's point of view. If someone puts that into their writing I just get distracted by thinking up someone "ordinary" then finding there is no "ordinary"; when the authors purpose was , like Jack said, a placeholder. When you look at a object, like someones shoes, is it the Keds that are ordinary or is it the Doc Martens? Ordinary is just an ever-shifting word that doesn't really stay effective to me.
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