1. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    How would you write/punctuate this?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by E. C. Scrubb, Dec 13, 2012.

    I know the above is technically okay, but I want them to read much closer together. It's a sarcastic set of comments from two sisters about one of their boyfriends.
    So my next thought was to punctuate it this way (yes - the dreaded semi-colon):

    I like that, because it keeps the spoken sentence as one sentence while dividing the speakers. The problem however, is that there's two different speakers in one line, and I've always gone by the thought that a person should never put two different speakers in the same paragraph, let alone the same line.

    Then I thought maybe this way would work:

    I like that one quite a bit, but i already have a beat before the line that I like, and I think adding this beat would be too much.

    So, how would you punctuate this for a quick 1-2 punch?
     
  2. Em_Anders
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    Em_Anders Member

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    Is there conversation including these two characters before they make these statements? If so, I would go this route:

    "We're working on him-"
    "But there's only so much we can do," Joan [insert adjective of choice here]

    That way you aren't clogging the dialogue with She said's and So-and-so added, etc. Streamlines it, if you will.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The general rule for dialogue is to always start a new paragraph when you change speakers. A few writers ignore this, but it's ill-advised.

    Don't try to fix this in punctuation and paragraph structure. Work on the wording instead.
     
  4. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Yeah, there's a conversation and this is actually the first time Marcy jumps into it, which is why she's tagged.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd go with your last one myself.
     
  6. Em_Anders
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    Em_Anders Member

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    If Marcy is included in the conversation at the beginning of it but her "We're working on him" is the first thing she says, I would go with the last option you provided, too.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the second one is totally incorrect... the third would only work if the first speaker was interrupted by the second speaker... if not, then the em dash has to be a period...

    see what cog said... he's right...
     
  8. jwg1763
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    jwg1763 New Member

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    'we're working on him" marcy said
    ha, "hopelessly" joan sighed
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The problem I see with Cogito's suggestion is that it changes the characters and their relationship. The writer wants Marcy and Joan to use exactly those words; he's just looking for an effective way of conveying that Joan's line comes right on the heels of Marcy's.

    Maybe something like this:

    Marcy said, "We're working on him -"
    "- but there's only so much we can do," Joan finished.
     
  10. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    That's exactly what she's doing. Or at least, to the POV of the character that is hearing it, it sounds like she's being interrupted. That's the one I eventually went with.
    __________

    Thanks everyone!
     

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