1. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    A Question of Quotes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Intentionally Blank, Oct 9, 2012.

    Hey guys,
    When writing, I always end up with lots of questions on how to write. One that has sprung up recently has been; should character dialogue in quotes be put inline within the paragraph, or on a separate line?
    My problem is that I think that quotes should be in a paragraph so it should flow - but I'm not sure if not putting it on a new line reduces clarity. Some people have said I should put quotes on a new line to make it clearer, and we ended up having an argument, as I felt the person was comparing my work to maths books, which is moronic, IMO.
    Anyway, I have read a lot of (published) books that use quotes in line, but I'm just not sure what to do.
    Do you guys keep your quotes in line or separate? I could do with a little advice on this, thanks.
     
  2. reviloennik
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    reviloennik Member

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    I'd keep them inline. It should be clear from the context who is speaking and as you say, it flows better that way. Only start on a new line if the speaker changes to help the reader know who's speaking. At least that's how I do it.
     
  3. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I think I will continue on keeping them inline, thanks for the advice.
    Does anyone have a different take on all of this?
     
  4. Rose Hunt
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    Rose Hunt Member

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    I write my dialogue within the paragraphs. It feels wong to make so many new lines. I looked at several books too before I decided which way to do it. Although many new lines are made, there are just as many lines written in the paragraphs. When I start taking the lines out of paragraph form now, I feel like I am making stick people talk instead of having the speach come out naturaly. But it is just my opinion as a writer.
     
  5. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    I keep thinking new line quotes are just another form of FFDRE- Fancy Formatting that Detracts from Reading Experience. Along with fancy fonts, very large fonts, weird lines and lots of fancy symbols put everywhere. Don't like that. I think all ebooks and normal books should be kept simple (especially the former).

    I personally think that the whole way of putting a line to each dialogue is done in screen plays and scripts, not books.

    Thanks for the commentary!
     
  6. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    If you're talking dialogue, every time the speaker changes, you should make a new line, for clarity's sake. If you don't what'll end up happening is that no one will have a clue who's speaking. You can have the same speaker saying multiple things in a paragraph, punctuated with tags and beats, but if you keep multiple speakers in the same paragraph, it's really confusing to the reader.
     
  7. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    Hmmm... You're right, it does seem somewhat easier to follow when I put a new paragraph every time a new character speaks. It doesn't make a huge difference though, but, I'll see how it ends, and hopefully get some more people to read it.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  9. robertpri007
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    robertpri007 Member

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    One of the most annoying things that bothers me as a reader, is when the dialog races back and forth between two people without any kind of identification. I have to go back and then count, A, B, A, B, A, B, etc. Very distracting, so keep at least some of it inline so the reader does not lose track.
     
  10. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    I read the guide and found it quite interesting.
    However, I do disagree with putting thoughts in normal text- I find myself confused sometimes when I read books and can't tell if the user spoke out loud or not.
    I also think you've confused the double vs single quotes issue- here in the UK, we do actually use double quotes instead of single quotes like you're guide stated. In fact, I haven't seen any UK writer use single instead of double quotes.
    But I have seen plenty of American ones.
     
  11. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    Dialogue is a form of writing. When you change speakers, you need to move to a new line. If the speaker is saying a few sentences, keep it within the same paragraph. The only exception to that is when you change a subject. Dialogue must still follow writing guidelines or it will become an unreadable wall of text. There is no quicker way to lose your audience then to make a wall of text and expect them to sort it out.

    They will not sort it out. They will put your book down and try another one.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    we can't really tell what it is you're asking about, till you show us some examples... basically, dialog is started on a new line and indented, whenever a new character speaks... however, if there is a lot of narrative from the speaker's pov preceding the line of dialog, that can be started on a new line, instead of being included in the same paragraph...

    show us what it is you're asking about, please...
     
  13. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    I guess I was being a little inarticulate with my postings.
    Example of how I often write:
    Sorry if my example seems a bit lame
    OR:
     
  14. reviloennik
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    reviloennik Member

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    I would write it like this:

    ----------
    Jack looked at the ever lengthening queue into the nightclub with dismay.

    His friend Mara commented beside him: "I wonder how we're ever going to get into this club and find Damon before it's too late".

    Then, Jack had an idea.*"Mara, I don't think that will be a problem..." he said, eyeing the streetlamps above them.
    ----------

    I know it's many new lines/paragraphs, but it divides the different actions quite clearly, as well as the two speakers.

    By the way, I think you meant to put a colon instead of a semicolon to start the speech. :)
     
  15. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Intentionally Blank, your second example works the best. It's easy to follow and distinguishes the different speakers without making to many new lines.
     
  16. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    I think that's debatable. Colons are usually used to declare a list, whereas semi-colons are often used to separate clauses. I usually use a colon before starting a particularly long speech, whereas with the example I'm treating the dialogue as a separate clause. I don't know, semi-colons just work better for me.
    OK then, I'll use that style of writing then.

    Commentary was useful guys, thanks.
     
  17. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    And about the semi colon and colon, you're better of not using either and reworking the sentence to use a colon or a period.

    Something like that. Colon and semi colon aren't really used in fiction, they're more technical and mainly used in secular writing.
     
  18. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    I fully agree. I think using a colon every now and then would work for a certain effect, but not have that be the way the book is written.

    It seems like you've slipped into some bad writing habits. Now we all have our own style and voice when we write, of course. But we also should adhere to the proper way to write, with proper punctuation and structure. There are certain rules in writing you don't break, and lumping dialogue all into one paragraph is one of them. It just doesn't flow well or look nice.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The context should make it clear that they are literal thoughts. You should not use italics for that purpose. Italics have specific uses, and literal thoughts are not among them.

    The trend does appear to be migrating toward the double quote convention in the UK, but the traditional single quote is still widely used there. Just be aware that if you see the single quote convention used by a UK writer, it isn't wrong. Knowing that will save you some embarrassment when you are critiquing in the Writing Workshop.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    neither one will be acceptable to an editor... in both versions, you've got dialog from two different characters in the same paragraph, which is a no-no... and narrative re one character following dialog from another, a second no-no...

    and, unless you're looking to be published in the UK, commas and periods must go inside the quotation marks... plus, the semicolon should be a comma... also, that ellipsis has no business being there, should also be a comma...

    as an editor, i would have to correct all of that... here's one way it can be done properly:

    hope this helps...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  21. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    In response to the above post:
    OK, I'm going to go over this one by one.
    With the first point, that was the purpose of the thread. I wished to know whether quotations from characters should be inline in one paragraph, or in separate lines, as it was a topic of confusion for me. The general consensus here seems to be to separate the paragraph when a new character speaks. I get that; clarity. You'll have to over the second point with me, because I don't understand what you mean.

    Speaking of writing, you have no capital letters and you're extreme usage of ellipsis makes it difficult to follow you're posts (for me anyway).

    I don't understand; what do you mean by "commas and periods must go inside the quotation marks"? Do you mean to say that a sentence can finish with a quotation mark instead of a full stop? Or that I should put a stop in the quotation mark and a stop after the quotation mark? Confused. Why should the semicolon be a comma? Can you elaborate? Same with the ellipsis, why comma?
    I also don't understand what you mean by publishing in the UK. Are there any difference between UK and US publishing I'm not aware of? Can't I publish a book in both countries? Again, no explanations.

    Additionally, my English teacher always used to chastise me for putting a comma after an "and". I always thought it was an oddity of Cambridge, does anyone know anything about this?
     
  22. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I'm just going to add an example from my favorite author, Douglas Adams.

    Each one of these was a new line, indented. Also notice the colon in the beginning. I love this dialogue and I study Adams to learn how to do quick-witted dialogue by using the correct amounts of 'he said', 'she said'.

    J. J.
     
  23. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    Well, that certainly was an amusing piece of dialogue. I haven't actually read Douglas Adams, perhaps I should give it a spin.

    I never really got the purpose of having indent, but ah well, it seems to work well in this case.

    What I am confused about is the quotations without stops. I was always taught that every sentence should have a full stop and nothing else. I guess that doesn't really apply to fiction?
     
  24. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    In Dialoge, if you're using a period (full stop), usually you should use a comma.

    "Toby shouldn't have done that," Mary said.

    In that instance, you use a comma because there is a tag afterward, making the whole thing a sentence. I was always confused about that too. The tag being "Mary said." However, that rule about commas isn't always the case.

    "Toby shouldn't have done that." Mary looked at her friends with a grin.

    In this instance, the is what is called a 'beat'. That's the part that says "Mary looked at her friends with a grin." It expresses a separate thought and isn't directly related to what was said in the dialogue. In that case, a full stop is okay. (I'm pretty sure that is how it works anyway, If i'm wrong I'm counting on someone to correct me. :))
     
  25. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    Yeah, that makes sense.
    But what I'm not sure of is:
    or
    or finally...
    Which one of these would I use before a new character starts speaking? I know I'm asking a pretty trivial question, but it's one of those things you never think about until you actually start writing.
     

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