1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    John, the child, the young boy, or just keep saying John?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CMastah, Nov 4, 2014.

    Here's the thing, in my story I keep referencing John many times and I'm worried that hearing his name get repeated so many times is going to annoy the living daylights out of people. It's why I'm currently using 'the child' as well, or even 'the boy' to change things around rather than have people read, 'John said', then 'John looked...', 'John sighed', 'John something else' and so on. Is it fine to do so or am I making a mistake here?

    Also, everytime I get into dialogue I find myself using 'said' a lot. I try to spice things up by putting in 'replied' and such but eventually I keep coming back to 'said'. Is that fine or do I need to do something about it?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You are over-worrying the matter. The "said" dialogue tag is the most invisible. Don't worry about repeating it. The reader doesn't even see it. It fades into the mechanical structure of the writing just like all the prepositions and articles that get used a million times more and are also utterly unnoticed. "Spicing it up" with other verbs in the tag is what becomes tedious and distracting to the reader.

    Same thing goes with your John. Unless you're repeating the name more than is normal for the use of any name, just call him what he's called for the same reasons as above.
     
  3. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    What about the simple "he"?

    In my WIP, I write only his name or he, nothing else. :)
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, simply "he". Maybe you don't trust the reader to follow the train of action and who's doing what to whom? Is there more than one John? Is maybe dad also John?
     
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  5. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    And be careful with POVs.

    If you are writing through John's POV, be careful that you don't switch POVs.
    Example: let's say that John and his parents are in a living room. John is playing, Father is watching TV and Mother is reading catalogues. If she suddenly says: "Hey Ben, look at this plate set, it's very cheap." you must be careful that, for his reaction, you don't write something like: Father turned to his wife. ----> this is a POV shift, it reads as if you are writing through Father's POV. If you want to keep the POV, in this very example you should write: Father turned to his mother. Or: Father turned to John's mother. Or: Father turned to her.

    I am not answering your direct question, but since you were asking about dialogue tags, I thought I'd remind you of that (in case you didn't know already:)).

    I hope I was understandable, it's slightly more difficult to illustrate what I meant, because there is no context. :meh:
     
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  6. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    If you're writing from John's PoV, never ever refer to him as anything other than John.
    As John will always think of himself as John and not a little boy, child, or anything of the sort.
     
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  7. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    this is OK so long as you don't have another 'he' in the room.

    Sometimes you have to look at the characters in the room/scene as well as whose POV you are writing from so if you are writing from John's father's POV and he ruffles his hair, you could say, 'he reaches out to ruffle his son's hair' or 'his boy's' hair.
     
  8. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Thanks guys, the issue is that I do have many times when there are either two women in the room (and the POV is on one of them) or two guys (with one of them holding POV), so in the context of the sentence I see a huge room for misinterpretation. What's more, I think I'm making a LOT of mistakes when it comes to POV as well. I'm thinking I'll save fixing my POV problems until my second draft.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    A mistake. If you say "the child", "the boy", and "John", I'm going to think that you're talking about three different characters. Once I figure out that you're not, I'm still going to find that shifting identification disruptive and annoying. I say use "John" or use nothing. By "use nothing" I mean that if you're always saying John this, John that, then you may have too many sentences of the same form. You can sometimes change the subject of the sentence away from the character. For example:

    John ate quickly, finishing in twenty minutes.
    could become
    Twenty minutes later, the plate was empty.

    John made four phone calls and filed sixty-two folders.
    could become
    The day was a hurried but tedious blur of ringing phones and file folders.

    Just like "John or nothing", this is "said or nothing." You can often eliminate dialogue tags altogether.
     
  10. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I will occasionally use physical descriptors, in place of pronouns. For example, instead of Mr. Francis, I might say, 'the older man'.

    This is not so jarring as you might think.

    Mr. Francis laughed at Peter's antics.

    or

    The older man laughed at Peter's antics.

    Just to break the monotony, from time to time.
     
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