1. Murkie
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    Murkie Member

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    Creating a natural break in dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Murkie, Aug 12, 2012.

    I've got the idea that carrying a character's speech over to a new paragraph creates a natural pause where the reader can infer the speaker 'taking a breath' so to speak.

    For example -

    "I know you were there last night. I know what time you left, how you got there and what you did.
    "I also know who you spent the night with."

    Right idea? Or do I need to put something else in there to show him taking a breath?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Generally leave one person's dialogue in the same paragraph. Mo=st readers expect a new paragraph to be a swiths to the other party in the typical two-party dialogue.

    Consider using a beat instead. See He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue for more information.
     
  3. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    What you will do is seperate the dialogue with something.

    "I know you were there last night. I know what time you left, how you got there and what you did." Some action event or something. "I also know who you spent the night with."
     
  4. Murkie
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    Murkie Member

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    Yep, I've got plenty of that going on. I was just wondering if there was an alternative to that and introducing a natural pause without actually telling the reader "he paused" or whatever as a way of mixing it up seemed like a good idea.
     
  5. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    You don't need to need to tell us he paused. You could have an action between and that readers will assume they paused anyway.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That kinda paragraph break would make me feel like the next paragraph should be about another subject, not a pause at all. It'd throw me off reading it.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Example of a beat:

    "I know you were there last night. I know what time you left, how you got there and what you did." She leaned forward and glared at him. "I also know who you spent the night with."
     
  8. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Cog made a good point: You can create your beat in the center of your dialogue. If 3-4 (5 at the most) lines of dialogue takes place in my scenes, then a beat gets thrown in. A simple action can give you one, and it doesn't have to be the MC that brings it about either. A secondary character can give you the beat, it all depends on how the flow feels, and the interaction between them. Furthermore, there's no hard line rule in the sand that you can't use two BEATS back to back either. They do it in script writing and play writing all the time.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, a beat is an action taken by the speaker. If someone other than the speaker does something, it should occur in a separate paragraph:

    "I know you were there last night. I know what time you left, how you got there and what you did."

    Larry squirmed nervously, and looked down at his hands.

    "I also know who you spent the night with."
     
  10. Murkie
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    Murkie Member

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    Got it. Thanks guys. I like the way beats break up dialogue.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, that's the best way...

    however, what you did is the proper way to break up a long spate of dialog from the same person, when no 'beats' are inserted... you've done it correctly, with no closing " at the end of the first section and with both opening and closing "s for the final section...

    you can see this done in published novels all the time, by successful writers...
     
  12. Murkie
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    Murkie Member

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    That's the reason I asked. I've seen it used a lot before and interpreted it as a pause. I can see now that it's used more to denote a subject change, or a change of thought.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not really... it is more like a pause, to make reading very long runs of dialog easier...
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a paragraph break within a character's speech. It should really only fall where a paragraph break would be in the same passaqge in narration.

    I would not use it to insert a pause in what would otherwise be a single paragraph.
     

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