Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Tropes: The Spit Take

  
Mark enjoys an evening with his girlfriend, eating burgers and fries at their favorite diner. They share a laugh. Mark bites into his double- meat and cheese. Just then, Lisa's mood goes somber before she announces, "I'm pregnant." Mark's reaction isn't a glamorous one ...

The Spit Take - a surprise reaction to shocking news or another cause while in the process of chewing food or drinking a beverage, which usually results in the character spewing the contents from their mouth.

This is not to be confused with The Double Take which, to my surprise, is a different trope altogether. For the most part, we see The Spit Take as a comical gag, portrayed as projectile spitting (which is somewhat of a cliché), but there are a few ways to implement this without being silly or overtly cartoony.

A character might be eating something really gross, but by the time their taste buds tell them otherwise, it might already be too late.

Better check the date on that milk, John ...

A character may also be distracted, enough that they forget they have something in their mouth when they try to flash a smile.

Smooth, Harry ...

People can do a Spit Take for any number of reasons, maybe from bursting out laughing or because a little juice went down the wrong tube, but the trick is using it in a fresh way so the audience doesn't see it coming. Those are the more effective takes. And if you've ever had milk (or some other beverage) go up your nose, that counts.

Have you used The Spit Take in your writing? What memorable spitting moments do you recall? Anyone up for a snowcone?

I'm David, and curse your tiny paper hat!


26 comments:

  1. I think spit takes work better on TV and in movies. It's more of a sight gag that doesn't translate as well to writing.

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    1. Agreed. There are few literature examples out there, but they did it twice in the Harry Potter books. I've written one before. Cracks me up every time. :)

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  2. Other than a slight choking of food, I haven't used it.

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  3. Omigosh, I TOTALLY have a spit take in my book, lol. It's herbal tea. Shot all the way across the room.

    Oh, and the Minority Report...that was a very gross scene. But I LOVE that movie. :)

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  4. I almost gagged looking at the pictures. lol.

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  5. I have never written a spit take...I have executed one or two in my youth...and they were also for dramatic effect.

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  6. I've never used it in my writing, but I'm not opposed to it for a comedy.

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  7. I actually have used this, sort of. My character is just glad she didn't have a drink in her mouth becasue she was certian she would spit it out :)

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  8. And just read your comment on my blog about the IWSG - welcome! You will not find a more supportive writing group anywhere. The IWSG members rock!

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  9. I haven't used that, but I do have a great story about it... I need to write that up.

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  10. I've never used a spit take. It's an amusing trope!

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  11. I admit to never having contemplated the intricacies of the spit take. But I did truly laugh out loud at this entry. Awesome.

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  12. I'm trying to think back, but I don't think I've ever used a spit take in my writing. I've gone for the "choked" a couple times, but I don't believe anything has ever left the mouth, LOL!

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  13. Spit take needs great timing, hence I'm too chicken to try it in my novels. What knocks my socks off is in movies they set it up so you know it's coming, yet we laugh every time. Sort of like when Curly gets poked in the eye by Harry. Thanks for joining my blog, David. Happy IWSG.

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  14. I haven't used this one. Or thought to. Maybe I will now. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  15. Ha! I haven't used a spit take, but I love your examples :)

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  16. Nope, never used a spit take in writing. But I did spew soda at the faculty lunch table last year. (I didn't actually hit anyone though.)

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  17. Thanks for the follow. I was just trying to imagine the spit take in a zombie movie, and then decided no -- I really don't want to see that. :)
    Haven't used it in my writing, but it's Halloween and there may be a way...

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  18. Hilarious & an awesome trope too!

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  19. I've never used this, but it happens to me all the time. I get laughing about something, and then dribble, dribble, and panic ensues as I run for the nearest sink. :)

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  20. You didn't happen to be seated next to me at dinner tonight were you? Most women cannot pull this off except for Kristen Wiig. The clips were very funny! Thanks David! Julie

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  21. *giggles* Oh, I think it usually is comical. Though I have seen people spit their food into a napkin if they hear something gross or upsetting. And in the book I'm currently editing, I have a character who gets 'visions' (mostly violent) and one of the coinciding reactions is to vomit. She's puked a bunch. (also has a headache that won't leave her)

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  22. Love it on TV, but haven't used it. I think a version with an acid spitting zombie (like the Spitter from Left4Dead) would be interesting.

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