1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Interjecting a clause in a line of dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, Jun 18, 2013.

    What is the proper way to write this?

    "Trey, may I call you Trey, you need to sit down and...."

    "Trey–may I call you Trey?–you need to sit down and..."




    mods, please move this thread to writing mechanics
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I am going to hesitantly side with option 2. There may be a better way than either of these two examples, but I am not sure myself. #1 is right out.
     
  3. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    These aren't the only two possible solutions; just the ones I wrote to present the problem
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I think clauses are fine in dialogue when used well, but this particular sentence does not need one. "Trey - may I call you Trey? You need to sit down and..." or "Trey. May I call you Trey? You need to sit down and..." would probably work more effectively, in my opinion. :)
     
  5. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    Simple, option one is right out. If you ask a question it needs a question mark. Thomas's options are the better ones than you have done. Also, if you use either en dash or em dash make sure it’s spaced correctly. I assume you were meaning to use an em dash but could only use hyphen on here?

    Your other option could be to do, "Trey – may I call you Trey? … You need to sit down and ..."

    You don't need to use anything after the question, but for me personally if I did use something I'd use an ellipsis rather than a dash. In all honestly I’d be likely to write the whole sentence differently than you have, with perhaps some narrative between the question and the second part, but it works either way. 
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A question mark or exclamation mark may be used before an em dash. So the second option is correct.
     
  7. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Trey? May I call you Trey? You need to sit down and..."

    I think it may depend on what Trey is doing at the time. Is the narrator disturbing Trey? The narrator obviously doesn't know him so maybe he is sheepishly asking, looking for conformation he is actually Trey. Like a cop knocking at a door with bad news.

    "Trey?"
    "Who's asking?"
    "Can you confirm you are Trey Smith?"
    "Yeah why?"
    "Can I come in?"
    "What's up?"
    "You may want to sit down..."

    Not trying to rewrite your piece Garball, just think the correct punctuation may depend on the setting.
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    For clarification (that should have been in my first post), the scene is in a doctor's office. After dancing around the topic for a while, the shrink decides to cut through the formalities and start talking to the person and not so much just another patient.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the em dash is incorrect... ellipses are the proper mark to indicate pauses in dialog... em dash is only used in dialog at the end of an interrupted sentence...

    so, one correct way to do that line would be:

    "Trey...may I call you Trey? You need to sit down and...."
     

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