1. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    How to write this "conversation"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by spklvr, May 23, 2011.

    In a scene in my story, the MC gets a note passed to her in class, which she replies to, and this goes on for a few notes. However, I'm really not sure how I'm supposed to write this written conversation.

    Should I write it like it was actual speach? "With quotation marks like this?"

    And then there is, italics like this, but I know how much people hate italics...

    Or other? :redface:

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's conversation. Use quotes.

    And for God's sake, don't use italics like some sort of writer's duct tape. Most of the use of italics in amateur writing, and even a substantial percentage in published writing, is wrong.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Quotes are for dialog, written notes are not dialog unless they're reading to one another.

    I'd personally just do block quotes to separate out what's being written, controlling how the note is formatted and be sure in context the reader understands what's going on.

    Bob reaches over, taking the note while the teacher isn't looking. He unfolds it, hoping she at least check the box for maybe.

    Omg lol ur so funy.
    Of corse I like u &
    we shuld totes go
    to makeout pont
    this weakend!

    XOXOXO​

    Sweet, Bob is pretty sure this means they're going steady and doesn't even check if the teacher is looking to give his reply.

    No way, your the
    funny 1 and like
    totaly cute! Let
    me up for lunch
    2day, k! L8trz​

    Bob pretended to study his text book and shoved the note off his desk in her direction.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but written notes are also discourse, and are punctuated the same way. Of course, block quotes are acceptable as well, particularly for a note longer than a short paragraph.
     
  5. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    So pops' example is okay to use or quotes? Either one? (I have to say I would think they were speaking if it was in quotes, but that's just me.)
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    quoting what is either said, or written always goes in " " unless shown as a block indent, which takes the place of the " "...

    if a note is too short for a block insert, it could be incorporated into the text like this:

     
  7. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I suppose they do have those electronic talking greeting cards these days.
     
  8. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    Wow! I just learned something new! And I think my last post I just gave bad advice... not sure...
     
  9. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Thinking about it, most often I see notes/letters/signs handled with the use of italics in contemporary stuff I read. So maybe italics would be the best option?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No, italics are absolutely NOT correct.
     
  11. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I was led to believe there are no right or wrong answers in fiction, you do whatever you make work. And I see a lot (a LOT) of italics in the fiction I'm reading, so some publishers somewhere sure thing it's correct and perfectly fine.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You were misled. There are things which are right or wrong.

    Graqnted, itaqlics are often misused, which might lead you to believe anything goes, but keep in mind what you are seeing is in final, typeset publications, and a lot of liberties are taken at that stage that would be unacceptable in manuscript.

    Anything goes" is often an excuse for laziness.
     
  13. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    So, you're saying a publisher may intend to put a note or letter into italics for their print production, but if you submit a manuscript with a note or letter in italics it'll be frowned upon, or worse? And you say because a lot of liberties are taken in the professional publication stage of a manuscript when everything is final and can't so easily be changed, but not the stage where the writer is an amateur, so variation is not only expected, but when a manuscript will probably undergo editing to a publications standards, as nothing is yet final.

    I'd personally not want my work submitted to a publisher that's going to cause a stink about my putting in italics they're going to end up possibly putting into italics anyway, because they take a lot of liberties in final production, but not-so-much in early reading/editing stages.

    I'm not a huge fan of italics and rarely use them, but I don't understand how domineering you're getting over italics, or why. I often recommend people find ways to write a passage that make sense without needing to use italics, because then the language will be clearer and stronger in general, and it's not like the publisher can't just put them there if they want anyhow. But to go around with such vitriol saying others are misled by the tons of contemporary publications that do use italics for a variety of reasons, including notes and letters and the like, seems a little overboard.

    I agree, "anything goes" is often an excuse for laziness, though how often is having an opinion an excuse for dismissing others under the notion that one's opinion is no longer an opinion, but some universal truth.

    Sorry, no offense, as I've said I'm personally anti-italics and don't personally use them (see how I'm internalizing and explaining what I personally do and not claiming that's right for everyone).

    While I don't personally use italics that often, I'm going to go ahead and trust that the hundreds, possibly thousands of books printed each year by professionals in the industry aren't simply getting it wrong and should have checked with Cogito, unpublished forum moderator, first to get the authoritative stance on using italics.

    You may be like me and not personally use italics, but that doesn't automatically mean using italics in this case is "NOT correct," as you put it, and anyone that does, including professional publications, is simply wrong.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the point i think cog is making is that when you submit a ms, you can't know which publisher [if any] will accept it, thus you'd be wise to do what's correct, or most generally accepted as such, so that you won't be seen by those who are sticklers for following the rules as being careless or clueless...
     
  15. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    So, check the agent/publishers submission guidelines (which I don't recall every seeing restrictions on italics, though I've only looked at submission guidelines fro short stories, mostly), and then, as is often suggested, read the stuff the publisher/agent you're targeting is producing, so you get an idea of what they expect.

    The sticky point is that I'm pretty sure every agent and publisher in the business has used italics in a way you and Cogito are saying is against some rule and incorrect... so, they're all doing it incorrectly, but we, the writers submitting and hoping to get published, are in the right and should know better than those ignorant professionals in the industry we're trying to do business with and ourselves become.

    It just doesn't make sense.

    So often so many things DO make sense because it's just personal preference or the fact different agencies/publishers have different tastes... yet somehow there's this hard-fast rule that the amateurs seem to need to not only know, but adhere to, while at the same time (despite the 'there are no rules in fiction perspective that is popular, I guess) the professionals in the industry are just ignorant of the rules?

    I mean, we aren't talking about how Cormac McCarthy can get away with not using apostrophes and how it's still a grammar rule and pretty solid suggestion that new writers shouldn't do the same. We're talking about hundreds or possibly thousands of contemporary books breaking this supposed rule. It's not some isolated thing, it's the fact that the industry itself sets its own standards and expectations (even though perhaps there still are never ever 'rules'), and the industry clearly doesn't seem to mind the use of italics as much as Cogito seems to, claiming it's a rule, when meanwhile the professionals in the industry didn't seem to get that memo.

    And like I said, I personally don't like using italics all that much, and suggest others try not to as well, but I'd still stop way short of using CAPS to tell someone else they're wrong about something that the industry itself doesn't seem to agree is wrong or incorrect.

    Maybe we should all start a petition, so we can help the professionals not look so amateurish, since we amateurs obviously know what's right and they don't when it comes to using italics.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I doubt it will appear in most guidelines. Mostly it will come down to whether the submissions editor who gets to wade through your MS is put off by incorrect use of italics (along with whatever other errors are in your MS),

    The point is, no submissions editore will fault you for limiting your use of italics to the standard uses. So why screw around and use it like writer's duct tape to fix your shortcomings as a writer?

    Play it smart.
     
  17. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    You seem to be missing my point. What you believe is the 'standard' use isn't what's standard in the industry, as evidenced by the vast amount of italics usages that does already exists, and continues to, that one could argue is what actually proves the standard, while you seem to be arguing no, it's just wrong, because you said so and it's a rule.

    And all the editors I know (including myself) aren't so easily put off by such little things. Why? They're professionals, and if nothing else realize it's their job to 'fix' such things, not freak out, seem to take offense, imply things about the writer, sound the improper italicize use alarm, and reject the manuscript for doing things I would argue the majority of fiction being published does under some sense of right and wrong (as if language isn't fluid and ever-changing anyhow).

    So, all improper use of italics, judged by you, are just writer's duck tape to fix one's writing? I'm guessing that's offensive to a lot of people, who again, are using italics for a lot of things you seem to take offense to. And again, what I find bothersome is the dogmatic approach, simply declaring something a rule, proclaiming others flat-out wrong, imply others are naive and bad writers needing a crutch... when so many people are doing this it could easily be argue it's the standard, first of all, and offensive to a lot of people secondly.

    I guess I should probably go back into threads like the prologue ones and explain that I wasn't just talking about my personal preference and trying to explain how prologues can end up being bad, to help empower other writers to make choices on their own, but instead I should have just said no,prologues are NOT correct and then dismiss any of the many people using prologues by imply all sorts of things about people who use them.

    If you were to actually grace us with an articulation as to why italics in instances like these would be so 'NOT correct,' it would be appreciated, instead of some self-serving notion that agents, editors and publishers will scoff, and then turn around and publish precisely the same use of italics.

    Or maybe this is just a standard, industry wide rule because you proclaim it to be lazy writing if one uses italics?
     
  18. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been writing my characters' thoughts without italics for a while, and started to understand why it works better. For example,

    IMHO, this way of doing it puts the reader closer to the character's thoughts. By masking them as narration, the reader is tricked into experiencing them directly, just like the physical descriptions. The reader experiences them as if they were the character, putting them inside the character's head.

    Using italics for thoughts, IMHO, is like putting them in little square boxes marked "this is what the character is thinking", and breaks the illusion.

    Still, I think it's strange to describe italics usage as "correct" or "incorrect". Language is not designed by anyone, so there's no creator's intent to refer to when deciding what's "correct" or "incorrect", and there's no universal standard everyone conforms to. There are just ways people have discovered work better or worse.

    I think even beginners deserve a polite answer to their questions, and this isn't really an obvious question at all.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Hmmm. I don't know. Depends on how well it is done, I guess. If you ever read Joe Abercrombie's First Law books, there is one viewpoint character where he italicizes direct thoughts (the character Glokta). It is as effective, if not more effective, at placing you directly in the character's head and giving you some really nice characterization than with the POV characters where he doesn't do that.
     
  20. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Didn't intend for this to turn into such a heated discussion.
    But as popsicledeath pointed out, I too have seen notes like this written that way in several books I've read. This was why I thought maybe you were supposed to put it in italics. I'll put it in quotation marks as this is proper, but I still feel the italics makes it more clear to be perfectly honest.
     
  21. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Don't forget block quotes (pops' earlier example) works too, and I see this often as well (and I think it makes it quite clear as well).
     
  22. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Block quotes are quotes, and make it perfectly clear something is a note (to the point it can be formatted as would have been seen), as well as making the note/letter stand out in formatting to make it easy to find if an editor/agent/publisher does want to change it. That's personally why I would use block quotes in this sort of situation, though I'm not saying that's right or wrong.

    And remember we're writing to contemporary readers and publishers in the current marketplace, not to style guides or grammar classes.

    This is also one of the reasons why short story publications ask the readers to be familiar with the actual publication you're trying to get into, as you'll impress them more by making your manuscript look like their published work, even if it's not how you'd personally do it or feel is 'correct' to be done.

    Thankfully, agents are usually up on what different publishers expect, so know they may have to change things and tailor them for different publishers, and aren't going to usually pop a screw if you're using italics 'wrong' or differently from some 'standard' as it's likely to change depending on conversations with the agent (editor, if available) and the expectations of each individual publishing house, which is the kind of thing an agent is paid to know.
     
  23. PrestontheMuse
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    PrestontheMuse New Member

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    Make it consistent with the style of the story. If there is no established norm for your style, I would use quotes.
     

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