1. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Question of Italics - again!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by cutecat22, Feb 21, 2015.

    Hi guys.

    Remember we were talking about italics and single quotes for character's thoughts?

    Well, I have another little dilemma that needs thrashing out ...

    I'm writing a section that has two people in a room with a closed door, they are in the middle of something when one of them hears someone coming down the hallway on the other side of the door.

    The person on the outside, having heard a noise in the house, is coming down the hallway and calls out, "hello, who's there?"

    So my question is, as we are in the room with the two MC's, and the voice calling out is, for want of a better description, disembodied, do I put her dialogue in italics or leave it the same as the characters who we are in the room with?

    Thanks guys

    x
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Uh-oh! Let the opinions fly! :eek:
     
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  3. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    It doesn't really matter... I think... :wtf:
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    No italics.

    Now someone please lock this thread before people post the wrong answer. :whistle:
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Seriously? It's a no brainer.

    It's spoken dialogue, use quotes. It doesn't matter if it's an English speaking ET or a talking ghost. If it is heard as sound, it is dialogue.

    Even a talking horse or dog would be dialogue. An animal sound like 'bark' or 'meow' doesn't go in quotes, but once it is verbal language it is spoken dialogue.
     
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  6. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    The person is speaking, therefore, quotes. I don't understand why a wall between the speaker and the listener somehow changes things.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't think the question was about the wall, it was about "disembodied". But the answer is the same.
     
  8. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I'm channeling my inner Scooby-Do when I say, "Ruh Roh!"
     
  9. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I think the italics would be very confusing to the reader. We use them for internal speech, and there's nothing internal going on.
     
  10. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a related question, I am not trying to drag this conversation out but I don't think it deserves opening another thread. I have a cheapo wireless alarm system that sometimes seems to pick up something like CB radio or walkie-talkie chatter. First time I heard it I thought there was someone in my house, and it was not very understandable or identifiable. So if I were to write a story where I wanted to introduce this disembodied voice I think I would simply say that a voice from a loud speaker on the wall garbled out "some likely remark" without italics, but I think the quotes would be needed. If the voice was heard without identifying the source seems a bit more confusing to me. Still think quotes no italics, but maybe it should be worded without quotes, especially if it was unintelligible.
     
  11. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    If it was unintelligible, then I guess just narrate it. If even some portion of the dialogue appears, then quotes.
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Unintelligible, I agree describe it might be better. But mumbling and a garbled voice spoken aloud are spoken dialogue and go in quotes. So if you are going to write the sounds out, if it is close enough to an actual voice, I'd use quotes. If you are going to write it more like onomatopoeia, don't use quotes.
     
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  13. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Emboldened, underlined, multi-coloured italics, in my opinion. Or just "speech quotes".
     
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  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It should be in quotes if he is talking. If he is thinking, put it in italics.
     
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  15. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    Is that's actually how it's done? I've always assumed onomatopoeia was generally put in quotes. Or are you referring to onomatopoeia that's not part of dialogue (ie, environmental sounds).
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure noises are not in quotes but I could be wrong. Onomatopoeia can include whistling so I don't think environmental sounds is a complete definition.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    When someone has to exaggerate to make their point, one wonders how convincing their point is. ;)
     
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  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It was pretty. Now I am blind.
     
  19. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    :rofl: And here's me thinking I was asking a stupid-assed question again!
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I had a similar dilemma in my novel. At one point I had two people overhearing a conversation between two other people in a different room. The two eavesdroppers were also saying things to one another at the same time. So in essence, I had 4 speakers carrying on 2 simultaneous conversations.

    At first I put all of the 'overheard' conversation in italics, but that made for big blocks of italics. So I rejigged the scene and put the overheard conversation into ordinary font, as this portion of the scene went on a while. Then, once the two eavesdroppers started having their conversation as well—and their conversation became more important than the overheard one—I put the 'overheard' bits of the other conversation into italics.

    The whole scene seemed to work better that way. It didn't confuse the reader, so I didn't have to over-attribute each line of dialogue, but it also didn't produce a wall of italics to wade through. As people on this forum probably know by now, I'm perfectly happy to use italics as a useful tool, but I do agree that big blocks of italics can be difficult to read. As with everything else in writing, it's a balancing act.

    In your case, I would write your scene a couple of different ways, including using italics for the overheard voice. Then show the different versions to a couple of beta readers, and get their viewpoint. See if they find any of your versions either annoying or confusing. It's always best, when in doubt, to run your stuff past another person and see how it hits them.

    There is no right or wrong way to do this. You just need to find the way that works best in each instance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
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  21. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Thanks @jannert Ever the voice of reason.
     
  22. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Something like this?


    :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Pity about the screeching and bellowing ...but yes...

    god, I hate opera ...hate it hate it....:eek:
     
  24. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sowwy. :whistle:
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, no need to apologise. I accept that many people love it. In a detached way I can understand the love. But when confronted with the actual screeching and bellowing, I'm away to jump through the nearest exit hole. Window, door, wall ...doesn't matter. I'm outta here. And yes, I've tried, really tried, to like it. I've bought operas on CD that have 'bits' I like, and listened through the whole thing. I even read the lyrics in translation. Nope. Still hate it. Okay, modify slightly. I like some of the choruses and overtures and all that. But the minute that screechy/bellowy 'singing' starts....aaargh....
     

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