1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, Dec 22, 2011.

    I tend to set up dialogue with an independent paragraph that precedes it, but I see sometimes writers who don't, attaching the first line of dialogue to the paragraph that sets it up. What do you usually do? I have an example from my narrative:

    When they got back home, they continued working on the 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle. She chose that moment to bring up something that was burning inside her. “Remember that my parents are coming for Christmas?” she said. “Well, now that work is forcing us to take time off, I was thinking that we could use that time and go to Ireland. I would like to show you my country.”
    “But don’t your parents already have tickets?” he asked.
    “Yes, and now they just found out that they can’t be returned...
    ...

    Would you write the "Remember that my...?" line in a new paragraph? Is it a matter of style?
    Thank you.
     
  2. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I think Iwould/should put the dialogues on the next line like this to indicate it is a dialogue as it stands alone separate from the discourse and I would higlight it in a different font to make it stand out like this:

    When they got back home, they continued working on the 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle. She chose that moment to bring up something that was burning inside her.

    Remember that my parents are coming for Christmas?” she said.
    Well, now that work is forcing us to take time off, I was thinking that we could use that time and go to Ireland. I would like to show you my country.”
    But don’t your parents already have tickets?” he asked.
    Yes, and now they just found out that they can’t be returned
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    In this case I wouldn't. I might, if what comes before belong to the dialogue, a so called action tag. Action tags can be put before the dialogue too.
    Ex:
    "Which stair did you use?"
    Gabriel seemed surprised. "What do you mean? Are there more than one?"
    In cases like this I would, but honestly I don't do it very often. (maybe I should start, though. I kind of like it :D)

    Edit: Okey, that was probably a bad example since it wasn't the first line of dialogue that was preceded with text to introduce it, but I hope you get my point :)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, i would... because the narrative text that precedes it begins with 'we' and is not entirely about the speaker...

    i'd probably start the new paragraph with the 'she' sentence and continue with her dialog...

    cacian...
    dialog should not be in italics!... separating it from narrative is enough to 'make it stand out'... if you submitted anything like that it would most likely be rejected on sight...
     
  5. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Is there a reason why they should not be in a different font?
     
  6. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    That wasn't a different font. That was italics. And they are used for specific things.

    Also, most agents want a specific font. Guidelines for manuscript submissions are really specific on what they want. It isn't always the prettiest of formatting, but all they are going for is ease of reading; since they read dozens a day.
     
  7. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Thanks for your suggestions. Here's one more instance. I think here it would probably be fine to incorporate the first line of dialogue to the preceding paragraph.
    ---
    As they were walking from their room to the beach, he realized he had forgotten something. “Oh, I forgot my book, let me go get it. I’ll be right back.”
    “OK,” she said, coughing.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    again, you're starting out with an action involving more than the one character whose dialog follows ['as they were walking'], so it should be separated... now, if you'd written it with 'As he was walking...' then the dialog could be kept together with his action...

    and one can't really cough while speaking, or 'cough' a word...
     
  9. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Hmm, it wasn't a great example, as it contained a grammatical error - it should be 'is there more than one?' because 'more' refers back to 'stair', which is singular. It's tricky because it can also be treated as plural when it refers to a plural noun, i.e. 'There are more stairs'.

    By the same token, you wouldn't say 'there are more food', would you? Even though food is a collective noun and can therefore refer to multiple things, it still functions as a singular noun.
     
  10. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    As JHunter says, italics is not a different font, but a means to set words/phrases apart. And italics emphasize words/sentences, so they should be used sparsely. Punctuation is available for a reason and flouting convention will get you rejected, by agents/publishers and readers. Bold, italics and underlined all have their specific uses that writers should familiarize themselves with. Breaking rules without knowing the rules won't make your work appear avant garde, it will just make you as a writer appear ignorant.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry for the error, it was mine, since I had to translate it myself from swedish :rolleyes: guess that is why I don't write my stories in english... LOL.
     
  12. Ziggy Stardust
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    Ziggy Stardust Active Member

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    I would structure it exactly as you did in the OP. I believe it is correct as it is. It is perfectly obvious who is saying what and it's easy to follow.
     

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