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How to Write Dialogue

Discussion in 'FanFic Discussion' started by Amerision, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Well, I'm not overly fond of any of the ways you posted. If I were to write that sentence I would go for:

    "Watch the face, I don't want to..." She caught the ball and threw it back, "get it bruised."

    The way you have it written in the examples implies that you want the first bit of speech to happen, followed by the action and the second bit of speech, which happen simultaneously. You also want to imply that there's a brief pause between the two, where the character pauses to catch the ball and prepare her throw, which is then followed by the throw itself and her reply. That's the purpose of the ellipses; to show a short pause between pieces of dialogue (or a trailing off of words, but that's entirely contextual and not relevant in this case).

    Anyway, that's how I'd write it.
     
  2. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I use one of these two, depending on how I'm feeling.

    5. "Watch the face, I don't want to" -she caught the ball and threw it back- "get it bruised."

    6. "Watch the face, I don't want to-" she caught the ball and threw it back "-get it bruised."

    However, number 5 has a mistake. Speech must always end with punctuation, so it should be:

    5. "Watch the face, I don't want to," -she caught the ball and threw it back- "get it bruised."
     
  3. Averis

    Averis Don of Delivery Prestige

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    I would have written it as:

    "Watch the face. I don't want to," she caught the ball and threw it back. "Get it bruised."

    I would assume there is a full stop after face. Then 'I don't want to get it bruised'... however, the physical exertion of throwing it back causes a second pause.


    But I'm no expert. That's just the way I would have written it.
     
  4. Blazzano

    Blazzano Unspeakable

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    I'd probably feel tempted to split it up in that example.

    "Watch the face. I don't want to-" She caught the ball and threw it back.

    "-get it bruised," she finished.

    Or something like that, anyway.
     
  5. GrayFox

    GrayFox Slug Club Member DLP Supporter

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    First sorry for necro, but I haven't seen a straight answer. Is there, in fact, a proper way of typing an instance like Nauro's? I mean one commonly excepted as fact and not based on stylistic choices. I ask because I've seen all of them applied, but according to my English101 professor #6 from Taure's post is the right way to do it.

    However, I do live in Florida, and fully realize that we *cough* cem to mak our own rulez fer the amurican laungwage *cough* sorry my inner southerner came out. However my point stands, regardless of what is excepted by my teachers/college is there a designated way to perform that action when writing a story?
     
  6. Agravaine

    Agravaine Sixth Year

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    The best solution is to not construct such a sentence.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  7. AlbusPHolmes

    AlbusPHolmes The Alchemist

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  8. AlbusPHolmes

    AlbusPHolmes The Alchemist

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    Sorry, double post :mad:
     
  9. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Most of it's fairly standard stuff. However, this part was good:
     
  10. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    I know this is a few months old, but I'm wondering where you got this from, because from what I've read, it's not always true. if there's a break in the longer sentence, rather than the speech, then the emdash falls outside the quote mark without any intervening marks. The same is true for colons, semicolons, and question marks, if the speech is part of a larger sentence.

    "Wait, what are you—" the Bludger cracked him across the face "—doing." vs. "Wait, what are you"—the Bludger narrowly missed, but he paid it no attention—"doing?" ​

    Question marks can also go outside quotes, even in speech, depending on the larger sentence.

    Did she really mean it when she said, "I really don't care anymore"? Maybe she did. "Joan, is that. . . ​

    I'm getting this form the Chicago Manual of Style, but I know there's a lot of different style manuals out there and wondered if you picked it up from a different (newer) one, or maybe even from a publishing house.
     
  11. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    There's a difference between quotation and narrative speech. A quotation doesn't necessarily end in punctuation, speech does. This, for example, isn't an example of speech but quotation:

     
  12. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    Ahh, so you were referring to direct speech, rather than remembered speech (quotation). That takes care of pretty much everything. The only exception I can think of then, is the break in the longer sentence where there's an em-dash after quotes, rather than before them like illustrated below.

    Thanks Taure, I was wondering after I read that.
     
  13. Malevolent Mind

    Malevolent Mind First Year

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    If your lack of skill in dialogue is bothering you, simply make dialogue profiles. Go and read every HP quote of that character and find their pattern. Most of them have one. Generally speaking a novel only has 3-5 well done distant voices.
    This is the dialogue profile I created for the canon Harry from all of the quotes in the books:
    Asked a lot of questions to clarify things
    Uses quietly a lot.
    Brakes up sentences when short thoughts.
    “What are these?” Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs. “They’re not really frogs, are they?”
    “He thinks this door is locked,” Harry whispered. “I think we’ll be okay – get off, Neville!” For Neville had been tugging on the sleeve of Harry’s bathrobe for the last minute. “What?”
    “I’m not trying to be brave or anything, saying the name,” said Harry, “I just never knew you shouldn’t. See what I mean? I’ve got loads to learn. . . . I bet,” he added, voicing for the first time something that had been worrying him a lot lately, “I bet I’m the worst in the class.”

    Of course each story's Harry can be a little different. But you need rules, quirks and signature key ways that he will talk.
     
  14. AlbusPHolmes

    AlbusPHolmes The Alchemist

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    I remember making a dialogue profile for Dumbledore a hell of a while back. Good tip.
     
  15. Cheval_Histoire

    Cheval_Histoire Squib

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    It's sad when you realize that in English, nearly all dialogue rules are not the same as for your own language ... But thank you very much!
     
  16. moonpotato

    moonpotato First Year

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    Quick question about em dashes

    I remember reading something somewhere about using em dashes and exclamation marks with interrupted dialogue, but I can't seem to find it anywhere any more. Basically, it said that if you have interrupted dialogue that is also exclaimed, you can use both separated with a space.

    If I recall right, it had it with dash first, then exclamation. Does this work?

    (emphasis added)
     
  17. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    It works, though the em-dash is typically used without a space. The most important thing is to keep your use consistent through the fic.
     
  18. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    It depends on what style your following. In the US, a very popular styleguide that's used for much of published fiction is the Chicago Manual of Style. According to it, your above sentence is wrong. The emdash is a punctuation of its own, not needing any other punctuation with it. So,

    Is the punctual equivalent of . . .
    or
    @Taure Looking back through the thread and picking up on a conversation we had months ago, this:

    Should be (again, according to CoS)

    The example given in CoS is:

    "Someday he's going to hit one of those long shots, and"—his voice turned huffy—"I won't be there to see it."

    Maybe this is an American/British difference?

    Although, you're absolutely right. consistency is the most important thing.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016