1. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Conversation embedded in a narrative paragraph

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leonardo Pisano, Jun 14, 2011.

    I have an idea to embed a phrase from a conversation, as a kind of hybrid between a conversation and plain narrative. The idea is to make the narrative more lively, whilst digesting the conversation to its core phrase. A kind of citation as you come across in newspaper articles. However, I am wondering if that's common/acceptable in fiction.
    Example:
    [... preceding narrative...] They admitted that they had suffered a minor break in and a few documents of minor importance had been downloaded. “We are embarrassed by the breach of our security,” the press officer said, “but we think that no real harm was done.” [..narrative cont'd...]

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I thought this was done all of the time. I also thought the grammatical is to use a period not a comma after said. My brain is fuzzy right now so I will have to look it up.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know how common it is, but I have certainly seen it done on more than one occasion. If that's the only bit of dialogue in the longer narrative it wouldn't bother me, as a reader. Others may view it differently.
     
  4. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it works, go for it. Simple as that.
     
  5. garnerdavis
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    garnerdavis Member

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    I thought it's an accepted practice. The only rule I've heard of is that, after the quote, a new paragraph should start. Further narrative shouldn't follow dialogue in the same paragraph.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as worded in that example, the dialog should really be separated from the narrative... and the continuing narrative separated as well...

    however, dialog is often inserted into narrative... this just is not a good example of when it can work, imo...

    jim...
    the reason there's a comma there is that the dialog tag was placed in the middle of a spoken sentence, not at the end of one...
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your example seems perfectly normal--though I would agree that based on the content of the example, there's no particular reason not to start a new paragraph, and in fact it feels a little odd that you didn't.

    I may have mentioned elsewhere in these forums that quotes in narrative seem entirely normal to me, because I've been a tremendous fan of Rumer Godden from childhood and she uses quotes in narrative all the time, often quotes from more than one person, embedded in the same paragraph or even in the same sentence. For example, in the author's introduction to _An Episode of Sparrows_, she wrote:

    When I came back to England in 1945, the end of the Second World War, I felt, after years of living in some of India's remotest places, I needed to go to London. "Come into the market place," said my literary agent, Spencer Curtis Brown but, "London!" said my father as if nobody lived in London. "If you go to London you are on your own."

    I love this, but I suppose that Rumer Godden gets the "geniuses can do as they like" exception.

    But a single character speaking within a narrative paragraph seems perfectly normal:

    Janet looked up from the stove. "And how _does_ your mother make risotto?" She stirred the rice just a little faster. Jonathan failed to sense his danger; I knew that the evening would soon be over.

    Or am I breaking rules, still? Was it wrong for the narrative to continue after the quote?

    ChickenFreak
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first part: yes.
    The second part: the grammar is fine.
     
  9. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Thank you all.
    Taking the dialogue out of the narrative is easy to do. I was just thinking to get it a bit more spicy.... Ah, well, let's leave that to the celebrities.
     

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