1. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    DIALOG FORMAT

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Gil VILLANUEVA, Feb 2, 2015.

    What is acceptable dialog format on a novel? Can attribution tags be set up in any way?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    First of all, this is easily googleable.
    Loads of articles on basic punctuation.
    Much faster than asking people online.

    The accepted format is new paragraph with an indent for every new speaker.

    "Hello," says Tom.
    "Nice to see you," replies Bill.
    There are a few exceptions to this but better you read up on it.

     
  3. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    Example:

    MARK: "I found the way out you guys. But, we need to make some tools from scratch."
    MARY: " I cant take to much of this anymore. We been down here to long."
    Jese: "It's ok Mary, take a deep breath and relax. Dont look at the time or you will go insane."

    Is the example below acceptable format for a novel, as suppose to the; he said, or she said tags?
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    That's how it's done in plays (minus the quotes); that's not how dialogue is formatted in novels or stories. The easiest way to learn the right format is to open up a few novels and see how it's done.
     
  5. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    There are no god given rules about how to format dialogue. Some authors even neglect to use dialogue tags at all, and some don't even use quotes. Even still, you should avoid anything too gimmicky unless you are such a household name at this point that you could submit your manuscript in crayon written on the back of used toilet paper and still have every publisher on the planet begging for the time of day. And considering you're asking something that is writing 101, and should be common knowledge to anyone with a decent amount of reading experience, I would guess this is not the case.
    Even still, if I picked up a book that had dialogue formatted like that (unless it was a script), I would probably have the urge to slap the person who thought it was a good idea.

    So, that's a long and over worded way of saying no. Just use regular dialogue tags, which I might add, also come in multiple flavours.

    "There are some that put the verb first," said Alice.
    "And there are some that put the name first, like this," Bob said.
    "But neither is more correct than the other, and so you can basically take your pick," said John. "But be sure to keep consistent."
     
  6. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    So if i wanted to fix the dialog in the example, all i have to do is change the attribution like this:

    "I found the way out you guys. But we would have to make tools from scratch" said Mark.

    "I can't take to much of this anymore, we been down here to long" replied Mary.

    "It's ok Mary, relax, take a deep breath and calm down. Dont look at the time or you go insne" said Jese.

    How about now? Is this the way.
     
  7. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    So if i wanted to fix the dialog in the example, all i have to do is change the attribution like this:

    "I found the way out you guys. But we would have to make tools from scratch" said Mark.

    "I can't take to much of this anymore, we been down here to long" replied Mary.

    "It's ok Mary, relax, take a deep breath and calm down. Dont look at the time or you go insne" said Jese.

    How about now? Is this the way.
     
  8. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I added in commas where they are necessary, but other than that, yes, that's fine.

    There are also some other rules concerning action tags and dialogue tags that contain either exclamation marks or question marks. As well as some region specific conventions about quotes and punctuation. But these are things you would probably be better googling, or simply searching the forums. I'm sure they have been said before.
     
  9. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    So if i wanted to fix the dialog in the example, all i have to do is change the attribution like this:

    "I found the way out you guys. But we would have to make tools from scratch" said Mark.

    "I can't take to much of this anymore, we been down here to long" replied Mary.

    "It's ok Mary, relax, take a deep breath and calm down. Dont look at the time or you go insne" said Jese.

    How about now? Is this the way.
     
  10. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    So if i wanted to fix the dialog in the example, all i have to do is change the attribution like this:

    "I found the way out you guys. But we would have to make tools from scratch" said Mark.

    "I can't take to much of this anymore, we been down here to long" replied Mary.

    "It's ok Mary, relax, take a deep breath and calm down. Dont look at the time or you go insne" said Jese.

    How about now? Is this the way.
     
  11. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    Action tags like; "i dont want to go!" replied Kathy with her fist to the wall.
     
  12. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    Nope, that would still be a dialogue tag with an action after it. An action tag would be like this.

    "You're late, as usual. I was starting to think we should begin without you." Bob looked up from his papers with a chilling stare.

    Notice how it never actually tells the reader that Bob was the one speaking, but that action attributed to him afterward implies it. Also notice how the dialogue ends with a period, instead of a comma.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    @Gil VILLANUEVA, welcome to the forum. Start by capitalizing 'I'. In a writer's forum, people notice.

    As for
    He said:
    vs
    ", he said'
    I do believe the latter is more common.
     
  14. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    I see what you mean. And thats a good way to attribute the dialog to the character and to continue the narration of thestory.
     
  15. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    Is easy to type on a computer, but im on a phone ... lol
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Double tap the shift key. The shift key will turn blue, and everything you type will be in capital letters. To exit this mode, tap the shift key again.

    Doesn't sound that hard.

    I know, I'm being a shit. It's up to you. But this is a writers' forum. We notice. Sorry.

    Not everyone cares, of course. Just some. I (almost) don't care, but I do notice.
     
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  17. Chinspinner
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    i get annoyed by it as well.
     
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  18. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    I see im not the only one. With shift key problems.
     
  19. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    I think there isn't any exact rule to write a novel using a certain kind of dialog format. After all, writing is a freedom. I do think a writer should use dialog in a way that balances the telling of the story vs describing the story, regarles of the format. Readers got so use to reading a certaing type of format in a novel that they dont like changes. I understand if a publishing company won't like it because of printing issues and so ... Bottom line, if I read a book with a good story, I won't care about the dialog format. Is the story that counts.
     
  20. A.M.P.
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    Nearly every single publishing house will expect and demand a proper, traditional, format; especially so from a new author.
    Most readers will not read a book that's improperly formatted because it's hard on the eyes.
    The formatting isn't random, it's made in a way to read as easily and clearly as possible.
    The story doesn't matter if it's improperly written or the format is overly bad. People will simply stop reading.

    You are free to write whatever you want, that's the freedom.
    When it comes to technique, skill, there is less freedom and even less when it comes to formatting.
     
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  21. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    But writers still do it. I read novel books with different dialog format. I think is up to the publishing company or agent now this days like you said. I agree that a writer needs to be consistent, specialy in dialog. But we are just talking about changing the style not the format.
     
  22. A.M.P.
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    What's your definition of style and format when it comes to dialogue tags?
    It's not up to the agent, they don't decide what gets published. Whole different line of work.

    You either use dialogue tags correctly or you don't.
    When someone speaks, you use "dialogue" on a new line, most likely.
    Writers who do things differently either have a very good reason or are very unique in that positio.
     
  23. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    You said it. Writers who do it have a good reason an are very unique in their writing.

    Agents do decide. They can reject your book if they get the feeling they can't sell it. Even before they submit it to the publisher. They like consistency. If you don't have an agent and go directly to the publisher, maybe they will like it or maybe not. Which ever the outcome, you take a risk and possibly not have a second chance. Someone said, unless you are a house hold name like Stephen King, you might get away with breaking the rules. Does that make him a bad writer if he choose to change the format or style. Or is it because he is a great seller or is trying to be unique. I think it would be because his stories are intriguin and thats why people read them, regarles of his format and style. When i meant format, I meant to say, keep the same format and rules of writing dialog. But change the style of taging the attributes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  24. Chinspinner
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    I've taken to using the following format for dialogue in my latest work: -

    Paul removed the trophy from the shelf. It looked cheap. It was cast from plastic with the seam still showing where the mold was split.

    WHAT DID YOU WIN THIS FOR?- Paul.

    Graham lowered his coffee. His dark eyes sort out the trophy and inspected it for a few moments.

    I DON'T REMEMBER- Graham. Still Graham- I USED TO SWIM A LOT AS A CHILD. IT LOOKS CHEAP ENOUGH TO BE FROM ONE OF THOSE LOCAL GALAS I USED TO ATTEND. More Graham- DOES IT HAVE ANY WRITING ON IT?

    Paul turned the trophy over in his hand. There was a small metal plaque at its base. YES- Paul. YES THERE IS SOME WRITING- still Paul. Paul again- THE WRITING SAYS [1998 200M FREESTYLE FIRST PLACE] SO THAT MUST BE WHAT IT WAS FOR. IF I HAD READ THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE IT WOULD HAVE SAVED THIS ENTIRE CONVERSATION.

    Graham- YES.
     
  25. Gil VILLANUEVA
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    Gil VILLANUEVA Banned

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    There is nothing wrong with your format. But your attribution tags need to be one for all the dialog for the same character. If thetes an interruption. Dont tag it again, just keep going. We already know is the same person speaking by the first tag.
     

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