1. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    adverbs after dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Franklin Dandridge, Oct 24, 2015.

    When using adverbs after dialogue, such as ...", she said, sneakily. Should the adverb come before after 'she said'?

    I like it better 'she sneakily said'.
     
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  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your example is so alliterative it's a bit hard to use it as an example.

    I think it might be easier to go with:

    "Wow," he said loudly.

    vs.

    "Wow," he loudly said.

    With those examples, I don't really have a preference. (Well, my preference would be to avoid the adverb and use "shouted" or whatever instead of the adverb, but that's a topic for a different post.) I don't think either is right or wrong, so it'd just be a question of what fits in with the sentences you're writing.
     
  3. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Yeah, I'm mostly thinking in terms of nuance, idiosyncrasies specific to a character. In that case it may be a matter of more than adverbs.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In both the examples so far, the adverb before 'said' sounds really awkward to me.
     
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  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, to me, too. While not grammatically wrong, I can't ever recall coming across dialogue tags written in such a fashion.
     
  6. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    It does sound awkward, but I question if that's because the other way is more common.
     
  7. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Possibly, but isn't this a good enough reason to go with the norm? There's nowt wrong with breaking the rules, but not for the sake of it.

    If I was reading a book with dialogue tags written in such a way, it would have to be an exceptionally well-written book in all other areas to keep me reading.
     
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  8. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I agree. I originally wanted to go with it before, as it seemed like it should precede the action of speaking. The pause caused by the comma after said, seemed to make the sneakily too much of an afterthought. But ad i said earlier, I'm just going to add this nuance in another way. Thanks for your input.
     
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  9. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    It all depends on context, character personality, nationality, and in the end the flavor.

    "Yes," he said definitely

    "Yes," he definitely said. The second one implies certainly, since its the norm in colloquial expression, as opposed to most other adverbs. Now, I'm not an English major, so this is going merely by my observation of people speaking, TV, movies etc.

    "Yes," he clearly said

    "Yes," he said clearly.

    The first one puts the emphasis on said or even he. He clearly said it, as in said not shouted, or he said it not she. He clearly said.

    The second the emphasis is more adverbial in nature. He said clearly as in he didnt mumble.

    Now you could say "Yes," he enunciated or some other synonim, but it sounds pendantic and unless that is the nature of the character it robs simplicity. Not of expressing, because simple is tough, but simplicity of understanding. Readers are lazy. We all are. We want clarity in message. I personally love using adverbs. I dont like the current paradigm of not using them.

    But then again, me no be published!

    AB
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Tangent: how can you say something 'definitely'?
     
  11. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Thanks, that goes along the lines of what I said earlier.
     
  12. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm really confused about when and how to use adverbs. I'm going to have to spend quite some time working on it.
     
  13. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    well, maybe somebody can lol. But I definitely said it, alright. Now if I could just say it definitely, oh wait. I just did.

    The second one is better example though.
     
  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm prone to over-adverbing. Now I treat them like dialogue tags: only use one if there's a good reason or if it changes the meaning/tone of the sentence.
     
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  15. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Reads this thread seriously, attentively and passionately. It's very good to know rigorously and completely. Im sure you will utterly and positively agree that over adverb usage can be incredibly, profusely and most annoyingly confusing...ly.

    See, I have practice with that and the double adjective problem. He looked down the road. A wet and slippery road, covered in filthy and muddy newspapers.

    AB
     
  16. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Steven King is known for adverb usage. I cant come up with a list, but I saw that the Harry Potter chick (I'm not fan, at all-ly lol) uses a lot of adverbs, and many other irregular formats, like parenthesis and caps for dialogue. I found this in google, so dont quote me.

    But it can't be wrong, because we have In a Mirror, Darkly

    sincerely,
    AB
     
  17. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Might be a case-by-case basis, so much so that your beta-readers would probably give you better feedback than us. Doesn't this come down to what sounds better to the mind's ear?
     
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  18. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Beta-readers? Pretty difficult to find those(on and off this site), being that I have an entire 'finished' product. You have a good point, though.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Meh, whole thing needs a change.

    "I like it better," she said, and winked.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'sneakily' in that context, but whatever you are trying to say, there might be better ways to write it.
     
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  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Beta readers often read entire finished products. They usually expect you to read their entire finished product in return, though.
     
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  21. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I was aware of that but was advised not to put whole novels online. Ill look more into it. Thanks.
     
  22. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Don't post it online, but you could email it to trusted readers. They'd be silly to steal it anyway. It's easy to take them to court if you can show drafts and they can't. Plus the outgoing email. However when you post on a site you don't know who may get their hands on it.
     
  23. Burnistine
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    Burnistine Active Member

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    I would avoid them. It drags and hangs onto your work like an unwanted anchor. She said / He said is invisible. Her eyes scan across the tag without thinking about it. That's what you want. The reader is trying to move on to the next action scene. The less you interfere with his/her ability to do that, the better.

    If you must, and sometimes we do indeed need to, use an adverb, find a strong one, preferably one without an "ly" ending. I always write with the adverb I want, then I search the dictionary and thesaurus for a stronger synonym.

    That's my take on it.
     
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  24. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    I always write these adverbs, and in the end always scrap them if possible. It just reads awkward and snaps you out of the scene. Plus, they often only vaguely describe the kind of thing your trying to bring to mind. All of them. Better use a verb that matches the type of speech; whispered, snapped, shouted etc. This is not always possible, and if so, as said by others, use adverbs that don't end with -ly.

    If I had to choose, i would go with the second one to.
     
  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's your call, really. Whatever sounds best to you in the context of what you've written. I think I prefer the adverb after the attribution, but that's not a rule, that's a preference.

    I get irritated by people who say you shouldn't use adverbs. They are actually words. Words that appear in the dictionary, both sides of the Pond. They exist. They can be used. Sometimes they are exactly what you need.

    The alternative to an adverb in dialogue is simply to use 'said,' or create a longer description of how something is 'said'. This is a great way to give life to a story, but it's not the only way to do this. It's a mistake to say you should always write your story so adverbs aren't necessary. They aren't necessary, but they can be useful. And invisible, if they're not used too often.

    When people speak to you, you see their facial expressions, hear their tone of voice, watch their body language. In writing, all we get are the words themselves. We often need more. Not always, but often. To say 'never' use adverbs in dialogue is to deprive yourself of perfectly good words and images.

    It's the OVER use or inappropriate use of adverbs you need to be wary of, I reckon.

    The advocates of just using 'said,' are forgetting how dull and repetitive that can sound. He thud. She thud. Thud she. Thud thud thud. It can make a passage of dialogue seem inanimate. People think 'said' doesn't call attention to itself? It certainly does if it's over-used. (I've read books that did this, and they irritated the bejabers out of me.)

    People are looking for shortcuts to good writing, but there aren't any. Developing your style to where it reads smoothly, strikes all the right notes and does what you want it to do without calling attention to itself is not an easy thing. It takes work, practice, trial and error. Eliminating whole classes of words because somebody said you should is a mistake. Learn to use all kinds of words, to vary word choice and make your prose sing as richly as you can. And never say never.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
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