Here is a quote about character.

Dostoevski writes in his novel The Adolescent:

If your wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t laughbother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, or seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you’ll get better results if you just watch him laugh.  If he laughs well, he’s a good man… All I claim to know is that laughter is the most reliable gauge of human nature.

 Okay. I agree. When you watch a person laugh, you sort of understand the person. But how can you describe the laughter? Of course, you can use a thesaurus:

break up, burst*, cachinnate, chortle, chuckle, convulsed, crack up, crow, die laughing, fracture, giggle, grin, guffaw, howl, roar, roll in the aisles, scream, shriek, snicker, snort, split one’s sides, titter, whoop, with sound be in stitches

laughcachinnate?? Oh well. Yes, there are differences in what a laugh is. I can use similes: She laughed like a sick crow.  Or action: His laughter broke the tension in the room. Or showing her movements: She threw her head back and laughed. But it still seems to me hard to do – to really describe a character ONLY by how she laughs.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Images courtesy of:

  • // ghosts

7 responses to “Laughter

  1. I think I’d take the easier way out and take comfort in the fact that WHAT the character laughs at is revealing of his/her/their character. Not being Dostoevski, the HOW’s too hard for me – although I do have a character in my Brisbane ’60s novel who guffaws, and that works well in suggesting what he’s like.

  2. I hate to doubt the great Dostoevski but I, too, need a little more than a chortle or guffaw.

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