Author Topic: "cupped his chin in thought"?  (Read 3936 times)

Offline Skylan

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"cupped his chin in thought"?
« on: May 01, 2014, 06:04:46 PM »
If I write, "He cupped his chin in thought," is that a good description? I feel like people would get confused and imagine someone forming their hand into a cup (like they were scooping up water) and resting their chin on it. When the action I'm thinking of is more like touching your index and thumb together and holding your chin with that.

That all seems awkward though, is there a better way to say it?

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2014, 06:17:43 PM »
If I write, "He cupped his chin in thought," is that a good description? I feel like people would get confused and imagine someone forming their hand into a cup (like they were scooping up water) and resting their chin on it. When the action I'm thinking of is more like touching your index and thumb together and holding your chin with that.

That all seems awkward though, is there a better way to say it?

Is it important to the story that the reader sees his chin and hand in the same way you see them? If it makes no difference to the rest of the story, I would go for simple . . . "he rested his chin in (or on) his hand.

If it is important to you and/or the story, perhaps . . . he rested his chin on the L created by his thumb and forefinger.

Personally, I don't like the last one, too many words and they sound awkward.   
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Offline Skylan

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2014, 06:22:53 PM »
The first suggestion sounds good. Thanks Alice.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2014, 06:41:05 PM »
You're welcome, glad it helped.
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The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

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-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline 510bhan

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2014, 06:45:22 PM »
Maybe it's more a stroking action while his thumb rested against his jaw. :-\ ???

Practise it a couple of times, feel it and look at it in the mirror and see if you're suddenly inspired. :-X

Offline Don

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2014, 07:25:20 PM »
Fred did his best Rodin.

:)
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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2014, 04:32:29 AM »
I see nothing wrong with your original, Skylan.  It's clear, concise, and to me reads better than the alternatives proposed. 

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2014, 05:25:43 AM »
I see nothing wrong with your original, Skylan.  It's clear, concise, and to me reads better than the alternatives proposed. 

'cupping his chin in thought' is open to misinterpretation. He wasn't cupping it in thought. He was cupping it in his hand. Personally the verb 'cupping' reads awkward. He 'held his chin' maybe? But again, too much body language can become a distraction. If the idea of writing this scene causes you that much of a headache the answer is simple - dump it.

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Pale Writer

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2014, 07:11:47 AM »
If I write, "He cupped his chin in thought," is that a good description? I feel like people would get confused and imagine someone forming their hand into a cup (like they were scooping up water) and resting their chin on it. When the action I'm thinking of is more like touching your index and thumb together and holding your chin with that.

That all seems awkward though, is there a better way to say it?

Try  not to believe that one sentence holds a complete scene. The building to this moment, what happened prior, what's happening now, and what occurs after - all play a part in showing this image. So it doesn't need to always be a sharply pointed image. A reader can 'just get the idea' and move on without difficultly. So the writer should also. The 'cupping in thought' is only a tool to move on.

Again, everyone has an opinion. Go through and find which is best for you and your story.

Offline junel

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2014, 07:25:20 AM »
I personally don't like "cupped his chin", sounds strange for one to 'cup' their chin, even if it is in thought. But having said that, I have seen it written in novels more than once. It's only because it sounds strange to me that I remember it. But I suppose that means it's okay to use. I wouldn't sweat over it, use it or don't, just move on, but just wanted to let you know, FYI, it's okay to use.

Offline Skylan

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2014, 12:43:32 PM »

Pale: I hadn't even thought about the reader assuming certain actions based on the scene... In which case, "He held his chin" is a great fit, like Hillwalker suggested. I'll either go with that or Alice's firs suggestion. It's actually not an important action as far as the story goes, but I want it there to break up some dialogue.

Junel: I've seen it be used before too, but didn't realize how weird it sounded until I tried using it myself. haha

Thanks to everyone else as well for taking the time to help me out, much appreciated! :)

Pale Writer

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Re: "cupped his chin in thought"?
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2014, 04:21:58 PM »
Many things help build an individual image. His/Her characters/habits. As a writer you present them throughout the story. Once known, they can be used in other ways, for instance, someone else could ask why your mc does that all the time. So certain ways you can use it for more than just a moment of thinking. You want to get every inch out of your words. Give the reader something to read, a reason to stay.