1. Danny1980
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    Danny1980 New Member

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    Style Question about structure of the first pages

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Danny1980, Mar 29, 2016.

    Dear forum members: First of all, thanks for this great forum!

    I'm trying to finish my first book. I have the following question:

    -OK class. Please stop writing for a moment. Today we will do a special exercise. Three random students will come forward, one by one. I will show each one a painting from a famous artist. They will tell the class the feelings that the painting evokes to them, she says to her class.

    That dialogue, is in the first pages of the book, and it is not the first dialogue of the character. But, since she is a teacher, and there are male and female studens, I was thinking that it could be better to use

    , Rachel instructs to her class



    Thanks for your time!
     
  2. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you have is a mix of dialogue, up to 'special exercise,' and narration afterward in a way that no teacher would speak to her class. Try "I will pick three volunteers. You each come forward, I will give you a different painting, by a different artist (or just one, whichever is correct). Take a few minutes to study it, and then describe it and tell us how it made you feel. So who wants to come forward? Raise your hands."

    'to her class' is redundant: who else would she be speaking to? Use 'Rachel' if this is the first time she speaks in this section, and 'she' if already introduced. Omit the tag line entirely if it is clear from context who is speaking and she has already been introduced.

    'Instructs' sounds stilted in this context, she is not instructing at this point, and I don't understand why a mix of male/female students would make any difference.

    Some good advice I have heard on this forum: read dialogue aloud, to yourself or to another, and see if you would actually say the words you put in that person's mouth.
     
  3. Danny1980
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    Danny1980 New Member

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    Dear Lew:

    Thanks for your answer and for your analysis. The dialogue is much better.

    I will try to apply it in this case, and also in others parts of the book that I am trying to write.

    I have one more question: It is not the first time that the character speaks to her class, but is her third dialogue in the book (and it will be in the first pages of the book). In this case, it will be relevant use:

    I will pick three volunteers. You each come forward, I will give you a different painting, by a different artist. Take a few minutes to study it, and then describe it and tell us how it made you feel. So who wants to come forward? Raise your hands." , she says

    Thanks for your time and help.

    Sincerily

    Danny
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
  4. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Glad to help. Remember, vocalize the dialogue. Even if it is not your own voice. My Roman centurion to his officer and lifelong army buddy: "Sir, not ter fault yer goin' an' all, but a man could get hisself kilt muckin' around in politics! I'd be an embarrassment ter yer!"
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    the punctuation on this should be:

    "Raise your hands," she says.
     
  6. Danny1980
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    Danny1980 New Member

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    Dear ChickenFreak:

    First of all, thanks for your help. In this case, it will be better use:

    I will pick three volunteers. You each come forward, I will give you a different painting, by a different artist. Take a few minutes to study it, and then describe it and tell us how it made you feel. So who wants to come forward? Raise your hands." , she said

    I am asking, because apparently, dialogue tags commonly they are written in past. In this case, it would be better use , she said?

    Thanks!
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was correcting the period followed by comma. You had:

    hands." , she said

    The correct punctuation is:

    hands," she said.

    I changed the period after "hands" to a comma, eliminated the extra space and comma after the quote, and added a period at the end of the sentence. (That is, after "said".)

    Whether you use "says" or "said"--that is, present tense or past tense--depends on the overall narrative tense of your novel.

    Examples:

    Present tense: Jane cracks two eggs into a bowl, and stirs them with a fork. "You want to beat them until the mixture is a frothy light yellow," she says.

    Past tense: Jane cracked two eggs into a bowl, and stirred them with a fork. "You want to beat them until the mixture is a frothy light yellow," she said.

    I greatly prefer past tense, and believe that present-tense novels are a fad that will fade away in a decade or so, but that's probably because I'm old. Either one is perfectly correct, as long as you're consistent.
     
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  8. Danny1980
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    Danny1980 New Member

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    Dear ChickenFreak

    Thanks for sharing concepts of writing with me. I am thinking in use past tense on the overall narrative tense of the novel.

    But, in that case, will be correct to use:

    "I will pick three volunteers. You each come forward, I will give you a different painting, by a different artist. Take a few minutes to study it, and then describe it and tell us how it made you feel. So who wants to come forward? Raise your hands," she said.

    I am asking that again, because the verbs are not in past tense in that dialogue, therefore I want to ask if it works, thinking on the past tense on the overall narrative of tense of the novel.

    Also, I would like to ask, if it using present tense to relate events will work in the novel

    For example:

    Rebecca walks down the hallway towards the teacher's room. Suddenly she meets her colleague Jimmy.

    Thanks for your help and time!
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your "Rebecca walks..." example is narrative in the present tense. If it is in a novel, then the novel is probably in present tense.

    That doesn't mean that there can't be sentences that are in another tense, but the novel, overall, is in present tense.

    Example:

    Rebecca walks down the hallway toward the teacher's room. Suddenly she meets her colleague Jimmy. She says, "I just had the greatest shepherd's pie at the cafeteria. That new chef is great. He's really improving the food. They're going to serve chili tomorrow."

    Little does Rebecca know that tomorrow, the food at the cafeteria will be the last thing on her mind.

    The above example has narrative in present tense:

    Rebecca walks down the hallway toward the teacher's room. Suddenly she meets her colleague Jimmy. She says,

    And dialogue in past tense:

    "I just had the greatest shepherd's pie at the cafeteria.

    And more dialogue in present tense:

    That new chef is great.

    And more dialogue in present continuous tense:

    He's really improving the food.

    And more dialogue in future tense:

    They're going to serve chili tomorrow."

    And narrative in present tense:

    Little does Rebecca know that

    And narrative in future tense:

    tomorrow, the food at the cafeteria will be the last thing on her mind.

    So, the narrative tense of the novel doesn't mean that the novel can only include that tense. It means that the main action of that novel uses that tense, and that other NARRATIVE tenses relate to that tense.

    Dialogue--the actual words, that is, rather than the tags--will generally be exactly the same whether the narrative of the tense of the novel is past or present, because people say the words that people say; the characters don't know the narrative tense of the novel that they're in.
     
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  10. Danny1980
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    Danny1980 New Member

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    Dear ChickenFreak:

    Thanks for helping me to understand the concepts of how to structure a novel. I understand the concepts and examples that you give to me.

    I will review the concepts to continue working in (my attempt) of first book.

    Sincerily

    Danny
     

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