1. winoforever
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    winoforever New Member

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    Dialogue: changes of tone in a sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by winoforever, Mar 19, 2016.

    Since this is my first post: English is my native language but not the language I studied; I grew up in France. I often struggle writing in English.

    I have a bit of dialogue to include in a creative a non-fiction article. The character changes tone in the sentence, from enthusiastic to suspicious, even conspiratorial.

    Here it goes:

    "You should go and visit this guy in Honfleur", the old farmer said. "He sells his cheese for 10 euros! Something's up."

    My question is: does "Something's up" fully convey the farmer's suspicion?

    Or should I work on something I do not have the chops to achieve, like:

    The old farmer began with enhusiasm "You should go and visit this guy in Honfleur", proceeded with shock “He sells his cheese for 10 euros!”, finished with suspicion “Something’s up.”

    Thank you for your help.
     
  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Short answer: No, it doesn't convey it.
    Longer answer: You should try enlarging this sentence. Include bodily reactions (a headshake after the high price is mentioned) or even a chance of inflection in the voice (maybe growing quieter while the farmer turns away).

    Just now I don't have a sense of the farmer. 'old' is not enough to describe him to me, I want to see this guy's personality. Yeah he is a sidekick, but that does not mean you shouldn't give him the opportunity to shine as long as he can. Is he cranky? Is his face weathered from long days in the sun? Is he stoical about it? There are a myriad ways this little line can play out and only you can decide which way to go.

    5c :)
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum.

    The second one is definitely not the way to go. You want the reader to experience the mood, you don't want them to be told what the mood is.

    The first one is too short and the change too abrupt but the idea is better. Slow the pace down.

    "You should go and visit this guy in Honfleur", the old farmer said. "He sells his cheese for 10 euros!​
    Give it time for the enthusiasm to sink in. Have the other guy reply, maybe say something that triggers the suspicion. Then go on to have the old farmer change his tone.
    Do you think something's up?"​
    I don't know if that's how you want the story to go. Maybe you want the farmer to change tone for some other reason. In that case put something else in between besides the other conversant asking a question. It can be more conversation, or some description, anything to give the farmer time to think before changing his tone.
     
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  4. winoforever
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    winoforever New Member

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    ?

    The farmer was enthusiastic “You should go visit this guy in Honfleur”, then perplexed “He sells is cheese for 10 euros!”, and finally accusatory “Something’s up.” Success in France is always greeted with suspicions of malfeasance.
     
  5. TheRealStegblob
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    TheRealStegblob Active Member

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    I think since you want to convey three emotions (enthusiastic, perplexed, accusatory), it might be totally better to split it up, since trying to stuff so much into a single sentence is almost making him look kind of bipolar. I mean I'm sure there's a way to eloquently craft it all into one line of dialogue, but I have to admit that it escapes me, personally. I think "something's up" conveys enough that he thinks something is up, it just doesn't specifically convey suspicion.

    I'd write it kind of like;

    "You should go visit this guy in Honfleur," the old farmer said, "he sells cheese for only 10 euros!"
    The old farmer's smile faded as he scratched the back of his head, "I have to admit, something is up with that."

    I mean it's pretty rudimentary, but I think you get the point. It's sort of difficult (from my perspective) to convey three sweeping emotions like that all in one go without breaking it up at all, especially in a way that conveys an uncomfortable suspicion. Unless done in a way I couldn't fathom myself, it'll just make the farmer look kind of fast-minded and cluttered in his thoughts (or maybe this is the point of his character, which in that case it'd be fine as long as we got to know him first).
     

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