1. Punctuate THIS!
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    Punctuate THIS! Member

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    Rapid speech

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Punctuate THIS!, Sep 28, 2009.

    I think when showing rapid speech, you use hyphens (unless im wrong).

    "I-really-really-REALLY-wanna-go-home!"

    If some has a better (or more accurate) method, I'd-love-to-hear-it!
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You would indicate rapid speech within the narrative.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've never seen a hyphen used to indicate fast speech, so I'm not quite sure where you got that idea from.

    To show fast speech, you could do as Wrey suggested. Or you could take out punctuation. Taking away a comma or period takes away a pause in a character's speech or thoughts. This effectively tells the reader not to pause when reading it and can thus be used to indicate rapid speech.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is no such use for hyphens, nor is there a punctuation or text adornment for that purpose.

    You indicate it in the context (in the narrative, as Wreybies correctly points out), if you must indicate it at all. Most of time, that kind of detail is not even necessary.
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    "blah blah blah," he said very quickly.
     
  6. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    I think there are three ways to deal with it. I’ve seen all three in books now and then. I know there used, but I’m sure they’re not acceptable in writing that’s not creative. Still, narrative is probably the best place to speed up speech, as is mentioned above.

    1. He spoke rapidly, almost too fast to understand. “I was in the plane it was just like pow wham there I was on the ground!”

    2. “I-was-in-the-plane-it-was-just-like-pow-wham-there-I-was-on-the-ground!”

    3. “IwasintheplaneitwasjustlikepowwhamthereIwasontheground!” ---- this is kinda long for this method
     
  7. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    "I was, the plane, it was just WHAM! I was on the ground!" he said breathlessly

    When people speak fast their speech often sounds disjointed and incoherent. This can be achieved with a little punctuation.

    "Whoa! slow down there mate" said steven

    other characters reactions can also give a good indication of speed, tone ect
     
  8. witch wyzwurd
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    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

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    Usually hyphens represent stutter in speech. Or a slight pause.

    Ah-ah-ah-choo!
    Stut-ter.
     
  9. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Hyphens (used as you've done) suggest to me stringing together a bunch of words as if they were all part of a single word. Like, e.g., he was behaving in an I-really-really-REALLY-wanna-go-home kind of way (making a string of words into a descriptive adjective). It doesn't suggest rapid speech to me. Especially so in your second example: "I'd-love-to-hear-it!" I agree with others that rapid speech would better be characterized ("shown" in some fashion) through some combination of narrative and behavior. Maybe a person speaking too rapidly would leave out parts of the sentence, for example, or would speak in short bursts or something like that.
     
  10. Punctuate THIS!
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    Punctuate THIS! Member

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    Okay. I was just wondering because I have a rapid speaking character, and the narrative to indicate that would sound repetitive.

    I guess if I establish that he's a rappid speaker, I wont have to mention it too often.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. You want to be careful not to manhandle the reader into seeing thing exactly your way. Half the fun of a good read is what you the reader bring to it. There needs to be room left for the creativity of the person who has just purchased your book. The occasional mention (very occasional) will be enough to keep your reader on track and still allow him/her room to create.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you kept on telling us, it would... and using some fancy fontery to show it would be annoying as bleep...
     
  13. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Putting hyphens makes ME think that you're speaking SLOWER.

    When I wanna show a character speaking so rapidly as to mix his words together, I generally leave out all punctuation and spaces.

    "I reallyreallyreallywannagohome!"
     
  14. Nathan Edwards
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    Nathan Edwards Member

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    I've seen this one used a couple of times in prose and it could be the standard for 'fast speech', although that doesn't really say much. Frankly, I find run-together words a pain in the backside to try and read.

    I sort of have this idea as to what fast speech should appear as though, mainly clauses strung together with coordinating conjunctions and zero punctuation. In short, a ramble. That'd be the way I'd approach it anyways, but generally don't try and do anything that would turn into more of a headache for your reader than it's worth.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Yeah, I never seen hyphens used that way, and it's ugly. :p

    When you are describing the character mention that they are hyper and speak rapidly. I think readers will remember. But also you might want to choose that character's words carefully.

    Using lots of punctuation and fragments should give the impression he/she speaks quickly.

    "Hey, nice shirt. Like it. A lot. Looks good on ya. Brings out your eyes. Oh, talking to much again. Sorry."

    That's a bit exaggerated, but yeah.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also, hyphenation, or jamming the words together, or similar stunts interferes with the reader's ability to recognize words as visual units, so it slows the reader down. This is exactly the opposite of what you want. Make the rapid speech apparent from the scene and context, not from cheap tricks.
     
  17. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think that's a realy good example. And actually, the exaggeration of word choices, speech patterns, and so forth really helps illustrate this--combined with impressions, reactions, effect, annoyance, curiosity, and so forth, of other characters who have to endure it.
     
  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Actually, it produced the opposite effect on me. Punctuation such as commas and periods are supposed to let the reader know when to pause. So, in this case, you have a bunch of fragments split up by pauses. I'm not so sure this would work in letting the reader know that the character is speaking rapidly.
     
  19. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    I also find that hyphens between words gives the impression of slow, purposeful speech.

    "Do-you-understand?"

    However, I would use them sparingly for this purpose, if at all. I think I've used them like that once in the novel I'm working on, and only to emphasize my main character's inner thoughts in one scene. Since I'm working in first person, I couldn't really use narrative to do it, so I had to use the punctuation.

    On another note, I wouldn't call ANY use of punctuation a "cheap trick". Use every tool at your disposal to tell the story how you think it should be told. If it doesn't work, just revise later. Be creative. Be original. If it works, others will appreciate it, and you will have carved out for yourself your own style.
     
  20. SayWhatNow?
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    SayWhatNow? Senior Member

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    Make grammar work for you.

    For instance, change this:

    Get to the bunkers now!

    to this:

    Gettothebunkersnow!

    If you don't like that you can say something along the lines of:

    The words poured out of his mouth like judgment day was creeping up at the speed of light.

    hope it helped
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How is this making grammar work for you?
     
  22. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    gettothebunkernow is so hard to read. If there were a few lines of dialog like that, I would throw the novel in the trash.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!
     

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