1. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    New line after "I said" or "He/She said"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jwatson, Jul 21, 2014.

    Working on final draft. Been at it for a few years. It's a self reflexive book about a writer having written a book. Magic realism.

    Anyway, it's dialogue heavy and I have made the entire novel run as follows (example):

    I said,

    "No way."

    She said,

    "Yeah."

    ---

    Reason? I'm not sure. I could be a moron, I could be a pretentious person--the novel in a sense is about pretentiousness, so the first person narrator is naturally pretentious. I am also a fan of "minimalism," and call me crazy, but once you look at it the way I have, where it's 70 K words set up this way, with back and forth conversations (again, dialogue heavy), it looks better. There's chunks of dialogue, pages even, and personally I think it looks neater. When I read novels, sometimes I spot messy areas where the writer/editor almost wasn't sure how to deal with "he said/she said/I said."

    I try very hard to set up as many "dialogue" moments as I can in a manner where I do not have to specify "She said/I said/He said," so it is implied who is speaking already.

    I can see potential outrage from more seasoned writers than I; I too know some people make outrageous mistakes when formatting a novel/final draft. I have also read that literary agents look for reasons to toss your book aside, so one must have tact and know the best way to format their manuscript.

    Do you have thoughts on what I have presented?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No, you need a new line when you have a new speakers, not a new line for the tag.

    I said, "No way."

    She said, "Yeah."
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It looks clumsy IMO. Stick to having it on one line.
     
  4. Nothingness
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    Nothingness Active Member

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    You should keep it in one line at least most of the time.

    In special situations, you could use paragraphs to convey a pause, choppy time feel, suspense,(...) without using precious words.
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Yes, there are also times where I will use a colon.

    He said:

    "Blood."

    ---
    I know I sound like a moron. The novel is a bold attempt at being unique. Not to sound arrogant. It was "high risk high reward" at first, but now, I very much like the way dialogue is formatted. Tis a shame it is frowned upon.

    So I suppose any third party would wonder why I had done it so. I will take more feedback and figure it out.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Why do you want to put those extra lines in there? Where do you see dialogue written that way?


    He said: "Blood."

    I wouldn't use a colon in place of a comma with dialogue, however.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Using a colon and starting a new line is actually more "correct" than using a comma. But it's not used anymore (at least, I haven't come across it in contemporary literature).
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "More correct"? :confused:

    Then why have I neither seen a new line after a colon nor 'said' followed by a colon?

    Yes one uses the colon for dialogue: if you are using a name, such as in a transcript you would use the colon. But I've never seen 'said' in that configuration.
     
  9. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I used it at climactic moments. Important dialogue. Yes i know it's incorrect in comparison to all we have read. As I said, I was trying to be different. I know the idea sounds horrible on paper.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Consider something like this:
    Like I said, I haven't seen it in contemporary literature (though I'm sure it exists), but quite a few older books have something like that.
     
  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The context of the story and the situation should help to make it climactic. That might be more effective than using unconventional line spacing. But if you're going for unconventional...then do what you think is right.
     
  12. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Yes I recognize that format. I have done similar. Perhaps I could remove the over done parts, like:

    I said,

    "Yes."

    He said,

    "No."

    ---

    Would it be acceptable to have such as the quoted in my manuscript? Perhaps it is slightly outdated. Again, not sure why I like it more.... I just do.
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Unless there's a very good reason why it's formatted this way (I don't think there is), it wouldn't be acceptable to me. But at the end of the day it's your manuscript and your call.
     
  14. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Okay, one last question.

    Literary agents would scoff at such a formatted manuscript, yes? I am pondering the reaction. After the first few pages....

    "Why kind of idiot formats like this....?"

    I may end up being stubborn. Thanks for feedback.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Probably.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't figure out why you're doing it--can you explain any more? Maybe there's a way to get the effect that you want without incorrectness. I say "incorrectness", because attributed lines of dialogue are complete sentences. When you break a sentence up into

    more than

    one

    paragraph, it feels weird. Doesn't it look weird?

    If I really really wanted to get a line of dialogue into its own paragraph, I would use something that involved two sentences, and I would do it rarely, not for every exchange in the conversation. For example:

    Jo said, "Blah."

    Andrew shook his head. "But blah. Also, blah."

    "Blah! Blah de blah de blah!" Joe's fists were clenched.

    From across the room, Wilbur's voice cut in.

    "Flerp."


    I don't actually like this, but at least Wilbur's chiming in follows normal rules for sentences and paragraphs.

    Edited to add: But, yes, I think that the original scheme, and probably any extensive use even of my scheme, would get the manuscript rejected by agents and publishers. My scheme at least reduces the concern that you don't know grammar, and that you might make a whole lot of other mistakes. But I still think it's problematic.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There are conventional ways to indicate a pause. It's not just that a literary agent or a publisher might discard the manuscript without reading it, a lot of readers will as well.
     
  18. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Here's an excerpt....

    ---

    Professor Crimmins sat at his desk. He looked up from his anthology and said,

    “Hi, Steven.”

    “Good morning, Professor. You wanted to see me?”

    Professor Crimmins gestured at an empty chair.

    “Have a seat. I wanted to talk to you about your paper. I have it right…here.”

    He pulled it from his drawer. I asked,

    “Is there a problem with it?”

    Professor Crimmins said,

    “Well, yes and no. When I requested for you to prepare a compare and contrast essay on these religious pieces, I did not mean for you to write an atheistic essay on why believing in such things is illogical.”

    “Sorry?”

    ----

    It's not even a pause that I am attempting to achieve. I know I sound like a complete idiot. A little off topic, I have slight OCD. On topic, I like the way it looks. It looks clean to me. Sounds like it's no good, though. A compromise for myself would likely be keeping it simple (conventional) in instances such as the above, whereas I can use a colon in other instances and begin a new line, as depicted in an earlier post.

    It's not unconventional pauses I am looking for. I had been working towards making the entire novel unconventional. Of course, no writers have ever written this way (none notable, I assume). So of course the rational reaction would be negative. I had wanted to confirm that and to look for a bit of feedback. Thanks.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That would drive me nuts. This is how it should look:

    Professor Crimmins sat at his desk. He looked up from his anthology and said, “Hi, Steven.”

    “Good morning, Professor. You wanted to see me?”

    Professor Crimmins gestured at an empty chair. “Have a seat. I wanted to talk to you about your paper. I have it right…here.” He pulled it from his drawer.

    I asked, “Is there a problem with it?”

    Professor Crimmins said, “Well, yes and no. When I requested for you to prepare a compare and contrast essay on these religious pieces, I did not mean for you to write an atheistic essay on why believing in such things is illogical.”

    “Sorry?”​
     
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  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm still not wrapping my mind around what you like about this strategy. You're splitting things that normally belong together, and combining this that are normally split. For example:

    He pulled it from his drawer. I asked,

    This is an action from character A, and an action from character B in the same paragraph.

    But unconventional writing should have a reason, and so far I'm not seeing a clear explanation of the reason.
     
  21. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Hahaha. Interesting. Yes I can tell you do not like it. I agree it is very different and thus would/could be a nuisance to potentially many people.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now, you could just lose almost all of the actions, because the dialogue makes them pretty clear:

    Professor Crimmins sat at his desk. He looked up from his anthology. “Hi, Steven.”

    “Good morning, Professor. You wanted to see me?”

    “Have a seat. I wanted to talk to you about your paper. I have it right…here.”

    “Is there a problem with it?”

    “Well, yes and no. When I requested for you to prepare a compare and contrast essay on these religious pieces, I did not mean for you to write an atheistic essay on why believing in such things is illogical.”

    “Sorry?”
     
  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm willing to entertain the idea. There are plenty of novels with unusual ways of textually representing dialogue (The Road, Blindness), but... in this particular case, this particular method you are employing lends a staccato rhythm to my reading pace. I feel like William Shatner is narrating in my brain.
     
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  24. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A few comments/observations:

    The structure you intend, about every other or third line of dialogue being broken up, means additional lines of text, which translates to additional pages in a book, which affects the cost to produce a print version. Since an agent is being mentioned as looking at this, I am guessing that a major publisher is desired, which would include both print and ebook releases. Length, for an ebook due to this structure, isn't such a big issue.

    Also, the font size and page size may alter the structure or look you intend for the individual lines/broken dialogue sentences. And ebook readers can change the font size, which would alter the intended look.

    While the a reader could get used to the structure over time, the reader would have to get into the book first. Having such a structure for dialogue would throw the reader off, and not for any apparent reason.

    There are books that do use different styles and structures and layout (see Crank by Ellen Hopkins for an example).

    If you have a compelling reason for what you're doing, no reason not to go for it. But you're having trouble explaining it to folks here. How would you portray the necessity or reason to an agent or editor that would convince them--if they weren't turned off by the structure to begin with?
     
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  25. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree 100%.

    And just be glad Shatner isn't singing in your brain.
     
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