1. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Repeated pauses in conversation

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by stubeard, Aug 20, 2010.

    Anyone got any advice on how to put repeated pauses in conversation. I'm struggling to think of different ways to say they paused and then eventually spoke.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My best recommendation is don't do it. If you have a single pause, fine. Use an ellipsis to indicate the pause, or a well-placed beat to imply it. But if the speach is halting, indicate it in the context rather than punching half a dozen gaps in the dialogue.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. Just think about how annoying it is when people overuse the dramatic pause in real life.

    (Yes, it's not dramatic, it's just annoying.)

    Now place that in print. Doesn't look any better.
     
  4. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    The spokesman paused and gazed upon the crowd. Then he continued.

    An angry protestor hurled a water bottle at the speaker. This forced him to cut his sentence short. After the hooligan had been ousted from the gathering, the spokesman began again. This time with a quivering voice.

    I hope this is what you were looking for. Try not to have your speaker pause too many times. This will get monotonous. And some readers may grow impatient with your beats in the text.

    T1
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Bottom line, you don't want your dialogue to look like a roadside sign in Redneck Country.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Yeah, I completely agree. Too much text, with a lot of pauses and beats? Yikes. I wouldn't want to read something like that.
     
  7. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Thanks for all your posts so far but I think I need to clarify my situation and problem.

    The scene is two 16 year old kids (boys) sitting atop a hill looking over their village. They are having a conversation about life and stuff but their conversation isn't really flowing, as it often doesn't between young males - there are plenty of gaps where no one says anything and the atmosphere is a bit uneasy (the point is that the main character is trying to be cool in front of his more rebellious mate).

    I am filling those gaps with them turning their attention to what's around them - tearing up the grass, throwing stones down the hill, etc., but when someone does speak again, I find myself almost automatically writing "he finally said" or "he eventually said". Do I need to do this? Has anyone got any suggestions how to do it differently?
     
  8. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Hehe :)
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Leave out the adverbs. Beats are sufficient, as is the lack of continuity of topic.

    "I saw Colleen today." Stuart picked up a stone and tossed it at a standing puddle.

    Matt stirred the dirt with his fingertips. "Mickey's folks are out of town. He's planning a kegger for tomorrow."

    "He's a tool."

    "Who cares, as long as he's providing. How'd she look?"

    "Messed. She looked messed."

    "Figures." Matt poked a stick into an ant hole. "Got a cig?"

    "Nah. I'm out."

    "Mickey's talking about enlisting, you know."


    ...and so on.
     
  10. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    No. Just have your characters jump right back into the conversation. Your readers will get your point.

    To vary your strings of dialogue and pauses, describe what your characters do. Take advantage of the uneasy atmosphere.

    Example:

    Nick rubbed the back of his neck and pretended to pick at a scab on his arm. The conversation was getting a bit too hairy for him. And more than anything, he wished it could end.

    T1
     
  11. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Forgive my asking but Google (other search engines are available) has not been my friend today.

    What are/is "beats"?
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    See He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue

    There are beats in my example a couple posts previous.
     
  13. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Thanks :)
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog's example is an excellent one... well worth following...
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Written dialogue doesn't have to be a written record of spoken dialogue. This reminds me of the discussion about writing as if describing what you would see in a film. The two media are different, and what works for one often does not work for the other. As Cog's example shows, the cues to the reader are different than the cues to the viewer.
     

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