1. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Dialogue Question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by katica, Feb 20, 2011.

    This is something I often struggle with. When someone is talking in dialogue and you take a break to describe a gesture she's making or something and then she starts talking again, is it all the same paragraph or a new paragraph? Or is there a better way to do this?

    For example:

    Sarah smiled. "I'm having a good day today." Jon passed by and she scowled. "Now, it's ruined."

    -OR-

    Sarah smiled. "I'm having a good day today."

    Jon passed by and she scowled. "Now, it's ruined."

    Which is the correct way of doing things? Because it kind of seems like a new person is talking the second way in the second paragraph, especially if you have a long stream of dialogue, so I usually do it the first way.

    For example:

    "Hi," Anne said.

    "Hello," Sarah said.

    "How are you?"

    Anne smiled. "I'm fine. How about you?"

    "I'm doing pretty good. I'm just worried about that test a little."

    Anne nodded her head. "I understand. I hate math."

    "I love math actually." Sarah's eyebrows scrunched together. "It's just hard for me to understand sometimes."

    -VS-

    "Hi," Anne said.

    "Hello," Sarah said.

    "How are you?"

    Anne smiled. "I'm fine. How about you?"

    "I'm doing pretty good. I'm just worried about that test a little."

    Anne nodded her head. "I understand. I hate math."

    "I love math actually."

    Sarah's eyebrows scrunched together. "It's just hard for me to understand sometimes."


    The second one seems to break the rhythm of dialogue and who is speaking by the same person taking up two different paragraphs. In my opinion, it makes it confusing and you might think Anne also said that she loves math instead of Sarah, but someone told me that the second way of writing is the correct way of doing it. I want to know if I'm doing it wrong or not.
     
  2. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep it in the same paragraph. As you said, it looks like someone else is speaking. I've also never read a book where it has not been in the same paragraph.
     
  3. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, with regard to the last example, I'd avoid the problem by rephrasing it...

    Sarah scrunched her eyebrows together. "I love math, but it's just hard for me to understand sometimes."
     
  4. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Not sure, but I tend to keep one paragraph for one person. This being said, I might break up the paragraph if it becomes very long. Then I use a pause - like [He looked at her, while rubbing his chin] and continue the conversation, adding [he went on], [he continued] or [he carried on] or whatever.

    Bottom line is that it must not be confusing. But if there are solid rules for this, I would like to learn.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My understanding is that it's a new paragraph for each _new_ speaker; if the speaker is the same, it's your choice whether to break it up. In your two examples, I wouldn't break it up.

    ChickenFreak
     

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