1. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another dialogue question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Melzaar the Almighty, Apr 19, 2011.

    I *know* you're meant to put a speech mark at the beginning of paragraphs when you have a long chunk of continuous speech broken into many paragraphs. But I have about 20 scenes of my novel told by one character to another... I didn't include the extra marks when I was writing, especially as there was a lot of dialogue mixed into his story (which is currently formatted with the same speech marks as the rest of the novel despite appearing within dialogue). While I've observed the rule elsewhere with shorter chunks of dialogue and quoted sections within dialogue, is there a chance I can get away with it here?

    I feel all the speech marks take away from the immediacy of the story, and I know the format is already a one step back distance between narrator and reader, so I'd rather minimise the amount the reader is dragged out of the story. It's such a long continuous piece of dialogue (assumed rather heavily edited by the slightly-unreliable narrator on writing it down, since it's a transcription of a conversation in a pub :p). I don't think my readers will be stupid or anything if they've made it this far - they aren't going to get confused and mistake the conversational first person for the real narrator. I would much rather not have to switch the formatting of the speech, nor put a speech mark at the beginning of every paragraph, where it will get more and more conspicuous with every line. I'd honestly want to stab a book that put me through that. :p

    (And no I am not going to re-write it into third person or something like I've done in other places - I do that twice already and I'd much rather do it this way, since the pub conversation has a lot of plot relevance in itself, where the story told within it breaks for a breather.)

    (double disclaimer: anyone following my queries about this story might as well be thinking, "Nur, just write it in third person already" but it was and I converted it, and trust me, it's better this way, despite the difficulty of the narrator to go pretty much anywhere with the main character and her adventures :p)
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    How often if any interaction is there between main character and the person he is telling the story to ?
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm just reading through now, and they've stopped to talk twice already and I'm not halfway through... I can't remember, I wrote this back in February. :p First time I've looked at it since then. But I think as the action hots up they might start talking less and focus more on the story.

    Oh, but I was wrong - I am just blind to it because it's such an insignificant thing - apparently I was using the alternative speech marks to the outside ones. :p
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the interactions can be put into different chapters to the story - kind of begin with a discussion, start the story - chapter for discussion.

    That is how I have seen similar things done before (don't as me for references lol I am shattered). Then it isn't treated as dialogue.
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dunno, they're kind of short and the breaks in the story are also quite short - they're interruptions more than anything, so I can't really split them up. Most of them come within the middle of the story.

    Also, I haven't put any chapters in yet. :p Just a double space or a proper break with a star. That's low priority. :p
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    maybe do the same with the dialogue - just don't format it until the story is finished you will have a better idea of how to make it clearer ?

    You might find a gimmick that works,
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    well, the story *is* finished and this is me reading through it and seeing what work needs to be done now. :p
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    well, the story *is* finished and this is me reading through it and seeing what work needs to be done now. :p
     
  9. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Instead of talking about the entire story, you might want to just narrate what happened with the storyteller serving as the narrator.

    For example: "When I was your age, things were different," he said. "Stay a while and listen."

    So I listened.

    And then at this point, just tell the story outright. It's no longer speech, it's happening.
     
  10. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    One rule I've heard is that if there are more than four lines of quote, it's not in quotes but gets its own set of formatting rules.


    If he's narrating, having a huge chunk of first-person dialogue in the story would only be jarring at the transitions. A few lines in, you'd forget that it's not a first-person narrative about something that happened in the past. Just be mindful of returning to the present.

    Probably reference Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH for transitioning between a story about the descendants and a character telling the backstory in the middle.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds to me as if the character has become the narrator, so as long as you follow conventions for changing narrator at the start and end you should be fine. Look at Conrad's Heart of Darkness for a work that is mainly told as a story in a story.
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that's reassuring :D

    Not sure what you mean by conventions - presumably just letting the reader it's a new guy? At the moment it opens like this:

    The interruptions follow normal dialogue conventions:

    (found the one stupid non-plot relevant example. Yay!)

    and then to conclude, we jump back in time to the point where Sael can narrate first person again, though actually the next scene is him going down to the pub to meet Frank to get the story that was then told. :p Maybe I ought to reorganise... ANYWAY:

     
  13. amementomori
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    amementomori New Member

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    If you can manage your transitions of and to forthcoming paragraphs or chapters, you could rewrite the whole story without using quotation marks at all, which, when done right, is quite an interesting style to read.
     
  14. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd like to do that, but I'm not sure I could with interruptions from another first person narrator in the middle of the text. It's not like he even speaks some of the time - there are some points where it just breaks for him to think something. It looks like a headache to try without speech marks at all :p Keeping it to minimal speech marks is good enough for me now.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  16. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is nothing about this in that thread - I read it before asking this question. :)
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh wait, I just saw your reply to the letter thread about block indents and realised what you were talking about - I thought you might have meant that but I dismissed the idea out of hand because it seemed so laughably wrong for the text in question. :p
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is because your whole book would be block indent - unless you reverse it and block indent the interuptions.

    Noah Flood flew through worm holes, pink holes, mole holes, and all sorts of other phenomena in the universe. He saw in front of him a spinning disc, wait no the disc wasn't spinning the universe was. - write the story in the text.

    /////////////// 'Sir.' The child raised his hand. 'Sir.' His hand is still waving. - start indenting
    ///////////////Socrates sighs, 'Yes Merlin?' Socrates is not in mood today. Other much more ///////////////important things on his mind than the ranting of a demented child.
     

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