1. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    New line for speech?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by staceylouise, Mar 3, 2014.

    Hi guys! It's me again! Right, correct me if I'm wrong but I was always taught at school that when a new person is speaking you start a new line under the previous speaker, like "stacey, go and look"
    "I've seen it already"

    Is that correct? Also, when is it appropriate to use ' ; ' ? Thanks for your help in advance xxx
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, a new character speaking is denoted by a new paragraph. Dialogue tags may be used, but may also be omitted if it is clear which character is talking. Hemingway had page-long exchanges between characters with no dialogue tags.

    A semicolon is used when a sentence contains two independent phrases: "My uncle had part of his colon removed; now he has a semicolon."
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You are correct. Whenever someone new starts speaking a new paragraph should be started. The semicolon is used for a few different reasons. It serves as a super comma of sorts when you need to divide things that are themselves subdivided. Addresses often fall into this category when more than one address is being given. But that's a rather technical use for the semicolon. In literature, it's use is more often to set apart two complete sentences that have a close relationship to one another. The semicolon indicates to the readers that the two sentences are to be considered together. You will hear more than a bit of remonstration regarding the use of the semicolon because sometimes writers develop an affectation of overusing it to drive the reader to consider this, that and the other thing together.

    Say what you mean; mean what you say.

    Or @EdFromNY's example:

    My uncle had part of his colon removed; now he has a semicolon.

    You would not use it if the two independent clauses had no clear relationship one to the other, like:

    I bought seven shirts yesterday; the dinner I made was terrible. <-- No.
     
  4. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    Thanks for that!!! I was sure I knew how to use it - which you have just confirmed that I do, but at one point I was an 'over-user' of this, so kind of hold back a bit in my writing now because of it. I've written my first opening chapter (although it does have a relating 9 page opening prior to that which hasn't been labelled as the prologue and neither as the chapter 1- so I hope to post this in the workshop, but mainly will be the actual start of the book in the now, and dialogue with how the mc feels at the end of it made clear.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You don't have to start a new paragraph for a new speaker. Some authors will opt not to, especially if the dialogue of one or both of the speakers is short. That being said, it's generally recommended that you start a new paragraph. I just thought I'd put another perspective out there.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    dialog can be contained in the same paragraph as narrative, if it all relates to the same character... i can't see any other reason for not starting dialog in a new paragraph...

    as for semicolons, in the US they're not generally used in fiction and not considered proper use in dialog, though they're much more common in the UK...

    imo for fiction, in all instances a comma, period, em dash, or conjunction will do a better job...
     

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