1. Nexusfactor
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    Nexusfactor New Member

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    Novel Dialog and Formatting

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Nexusfactor, Dec 21, 2011.

    I know this might sound like a newbie question. However, its been bugging me.

    The link below provides a page to a novel. I have a few questions about they way its written.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/72190148@N08/6513560473/in/photostream

    The line “I need to get to the shuttle dock,” Geary repeated slowly.

    That line of dialog is its own sentence.

    From the last paragraph:

    “The Syndic leaders have agreed to negotiations. They insist that I and every other flag rank officer participate in person. We’re in no position to refuse their demand”.

    My question is, how do you know when a line of dialog get its own sentence or is embedded in the paragraph?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    In this specific case, the lieutenant is speaking, then Geary, then the lieutenant. That more or less forces Geary's line to be in its own paragraph - each new speaker generally gets a new paragraph. If Geary were doing anything else while speaking or immediately before or after speaking, that action would likely go in the same paragraph as Geary's statement.

    That's why the Admiral's line at the end is embedded in such a long paragraph - that paragraph is the Admiral's actions. I think that it also would have been fine to cut to a new paragraph when the Admiral started speaking. If the admiral had been doing something unrelated to his conversation with Geary, that would, IMO, have been the right choice, but since the Admiral's actions were entirely about his conversation, then I think that it made more sense to keep the line of dialogue inside the paragraph.

    Edited to add: And sometimes you cut to a new paragraph just because the previous one has Gone On Long Enough. If the Admiral had led Geary up a flight of stairs and out to the ship's deck, or something, before starting the conversation, then there probably would be a paragraph break before he spoke.
     
  3. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Really, you are given a lot of leeway to do whatever you want, the only general rules you need to follow is that it has to look 'nice' and it has to make sense. If you make a paragraph about character A's actions, and then the last sentence is 'character B said "blah blah blah."..... that doesn't really make sense. It isn't smart to have the whole paragraph be about once sentence but the last sentence in the paragraph to be about something different. It also has to look nice. I wouldn't imbed a dialog quote in the middle of a paragraph, but at the beginning or end I don't have an issue with. I do dialog sentences at the beginning of big paragraphs all the time and usually the rest of the paragraph is about the sentence the person said. But then again, it would probably have the same impact if you broke the line of dialog off. It's just preference at that point and there is no true right answer.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you're constantly reading well-written works [as you should be, if you want to be a published writer] all you have to do is open to any page and you'll see how it's done by successful/good writers...
     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    ChickenFreak pretty much summed it up. The first paragraph includes the words of the Lieutenant. The next line, the one line by itself, is spoken by Geary and so would get its own line. When writing dialog, each character's spoken lines generally get their own space and, therefore, each speaker's dialog is set off in a new paragraph.
     
  6. Nexusfactor
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    Nexusfactor New Member

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    Thank You, ALL! You Rock.
     

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