1. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU

    New lines for new lines

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by tcol4417, Apr 27, 2010.

    So when a character speaks after/while performing an action

    Is it, "Like this?"

    Or is it.
    "Like this?"

    so...

    The officer sighed, "Is that all?"
    or
    The officer sighed.
    "Is that all?"

    I'm pretty sure it's the first one, just posting here for confirmation.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Sighed is not really appropriate as a tag verb, even though some people may treat it as one. Dictionary.com does give a definition as a transitive verb, but I find it nonsensical to vocalize a sentence into a sigh.

    Therefore, I am treating as a beat rather than a tag. As a beat, it goes in the same paragraph as the dialog element, but as a separate sentence. A tag also goes in the same paragraph, but is part of the sentence containing the quote fragment:
    This should make it clearer, with a verb that cannot reasonably be mistaken for a tag:
    See also: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue
     
  3. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU
    Oh, it wasn't intended as a tag verb - simply an action carried out before the dialogue.

    So sighed, then spoke. Separated by a full stop of course.
     
  4. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I think it's transitive because of constructions like "He sighed a heavy sigh." I agree that it doesn't work at all well as a tag for a speech act. (To be honest, I don't think it works well in "He sighed a heavy sigh" either, because it sounds cliched, but at least it makes sense there.)
     
  5. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    A little googling clarified "sigh" as a transitive verb. The MSN encarta dictionary provided a definition and an example of this usage.

    I agree with Cog.

    1. Tags should use the comma.

    2. Beats should use the period.

    3. In this particular case, you may want to use a different beat, or break it up, so the word isn't confused for a tag.

    Just a suggestion: Since you said there was a full stop, you may want to add one or more additional actions to the sentence.

    The officer sighed, folding his arms and stepping around the vehicle. He shook his head. "Is that all?"

    You might not need three actions, as in this example, and I'm sure you can improve on it, but you get the idea.

    Charlie
     
  6. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    He's likely to fall over if he steps around the vehicle with his arms folded! :p
     
  7. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    Nah. Some people with attitudes (or walking around on really cold days dressed in tee shirts) can walk around for hours with their arms folded. Assuming they're not walking on their hands, of course.

    Charlie :D
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    the impossibility is 'stepping' with one's arms, whether folded or not! ;-)
     
  9. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    LOL!

    Well, may be it's sci fi. If so, anything's possible. ;)
     
  10. rory
    Offline

    rory Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2008
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been reading far more than writing the past while and have seen it done both ways. That, of course, means very little. My own perference is the former, I think it ties the action to the comments, and is, therefore, easier for me to follow. However the latter may have it's place in creating suspense or what have you.
     
  11. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I just had an image of him going around the car doing squat-kicks like a Cossack dancer.
     
  12. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    Well, if the person was doing squat-kicks, it would be hard to walk around the vehicle. 'Course, if the person was doing that, I'd include some more details of the kicks.

    It would also change the position of the comma, naturally, since everyone knows that grammar changes when discussing Cossack dancers. :p
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Back on topic now, please.
     

Share This Page