1. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    Interuptions

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by EllBeEss, Sep 7, 2013.

    I'm a little unsure about how correctly to phrase a character being interrupted by another. Normally this wouldn't pose a problem but Character A says something, pauses says something else which is cut off by Character B. Should it be;

    “If you were friendlier I’d feel a lot sorrier for you,” Chase often said, “If you just tried being ni-” before Dacie cut him off.

    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase would begin, "If you just tried being ni-" but Dacie never let him get much further.

    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase often said, "If you just tried being ni-" at which point Dacie would cut him off.

    However I don't think any of the above fully make sense. Do I have to sacrifice the pause to allow the interruption?

    Thanks,
     
  2. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    No. I don't think so.

    I don't like how the first reads. It feels clumsy. Also I think it lacks impact.

    Example 2 is better but still I'm still not feeling it. I feel the same about 3.

    Rather than using a hypen to indicate the interruption, try an em dash instead. It gives more of a visual jolt. If it were me, I'd also be inclined to put that information on Dacie on a separate line, again for greater impact.

    Something like:

    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase often said, "If you just tried being ni—"

    Dacie rarely let him finish.


    But that's just me. Experiment, and you'll find a way of doing it that suits your way of thinking and intent. Look into using ellipses for trailing thoughts too.

    Edit: Due to my poor explanation.
     
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  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There's no need for the phrase "so-and-so cut him off" - the fact that you're ending with a dash indicates that he's been interrupted. Therefore, none of your readings above read right.

    If he's being interrupted, then show us the interruption.

    For example:

    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase would begin, "If you just tried being ni-"

    "Oh shut up."

    Alternatively, you could use "Dracie stopped him short" - it sounds more like a description than infodump.
     
  4. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    @obsidian_cicatrix
    Thanks. I thought they all sounded wrong too, I'll experiment a bit more.

    @Mckk in the context it doesn't make sense to not say he was interrupted.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Then why not simply: "Dracie interrupted him"?

    And I did give you the alternative of "Dracie stopped him short"

    The main thing that doesn't make sense is that you're putting Dracie in the same sentence as Chaser's speech. It should be a separate paragraph because it's a different character. That's a grammar issue.
     
  6. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I understand that that is an issue but it is a simple one to correct and one that I should have picked up on my own and has already been pointed out.

    My issue in this thread was more about finding a more elegant solution rather than grammar. The main thing is this isn't something that has only been said once which makes the interruption more troublesome.
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To be honest, it really sounds like you need to give a slightly larger excerpt so that one could see the context etc. So far you've had 3 suggestions from me and one other from another member, and it seems like you feel none of them fits. I fail to understand why. I assume you mean Chaser's been interrupted more than once already? What's been said more than once? Without the context, our help is very limited and cannot be tailored to exactly what you need.

    If you do choose to post an excerpt, be careful not to post too much so it doesn't look like you're asking for an actual writing critique, cus a whole other set of rules apply for that.

    If the grammar thing has already been pointed out to you before my comment, then I don't understand why it's not been corrected. Correct that, so future comments do not point out something you already know and can focus on what you're really struggling with. Go to your original post and click on "edit" and you'll be fine :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what makes no sense at all is the 'often said/would begin' business...

    how can the speaker be interrupted, when the dialog is being quoted from an earlier time, which is what those tags make clear?

    and how does it make sense for the same person to have cut the speaker off at exactly the same word, every time he supposedly said that?... or that dacie would always be there when he said it?
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase would begin, "If you just tried being ni-" but Dacie never let him get much further.

    I like this the best. I don't know the context but here's how it reads to me: Chase said 'X' many times, like an argument you find yourself repeating with a parent or spouse, and Dacie always responded to the repeating exchange the same way.

    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase would begin, "If you just tried being ni—" but Dacie never let him [finish].

    "Finish" is more abrupt than "get much further" which I would put in the category of words like 'seems', 'just', and 'really'. Use them only very sparingly. However, showing what Dacie does there to cut him off might be better. Does she leave the room, argue back, shout, "enough"?

    "If you were friendlier I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," Chase would begin, "If you just tried being ni—" but Dacie was always out the door before the sentence ended.

    [Sidenote: On my keyboard I make an em dash with alt-shift-dash. The en dash is alt-dash.]
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that this question is complicated by the fact that you're making this a description of a habitually repeated action, rather than a scene. The mid-word interruption isn't working for me in that context. I think that's because it's too specific--what are the odds that Dacie would interrupt him _right_ halfway through that word, over and over and over?

    If I were writing it, I'd probably change it to:

    “If you were friendlier I’d feel a lot sorrier for you,” Chase often said. “If you just tried being nice...”

    But he had never, in all the years of their acquaintance, been able to finish that sentence. Dacie always cut him off.


    But even in a scene, I wouldn't cut off a single-syllable word, and I probably wouldn't cut off a word at all:

    "If you were friendlier, I'd feel a lot sorrier for you," said Chase. "If you just tried being nice--"

    "Nice?" Dacie said. "Why should I be nice to a capitalist pig like him?"

    Chase took a long, deep breath, and counted to some number or other. When the urge to shout had passed, he said calmly, "Because. He is the capitalist pig that pays you."
     
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  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I like ChickenFreak's suggestion, though just like she implied, it doesn't make any sense to me either that Chase has tried say this same thing over and over again, but Dacie never lets him finish. That's kind of weird, but on the other hand, I don't know these characters.
     
  12. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I would have corrected it had the edit button not disappeared.

    That's what I was going for. Its a repeated argument

    I think I'll just scrap it altogether.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    wise move!
     
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  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ditto to that :)
     

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