1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Same or next line

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, May 11, 2011.

    Are there any rules? Which of the following is better?
    1) (I can't get to post with the indentation before "your friend..." but just pretend it is indented like normal dialogue).
    Fr. Peter broke the ice by asking us about our current occupations, but quickly got to the matter at hand.
    "Your friend Luisa explained to me the situation. Why is it that you want to get married?”

    2) Fr. Peter broke the ice by asking us about our current occupations, but quickly got to the matter at hand--“Your friend Luisa explained to me the situation. Why is it that you want to get married?”

    3) Fr. Peter broke the ice by asking us about our current occupations, but quickly got to the matter at hand. “Your friend Luisa explained to me the situation. Why is it that you want to get married?”

    4) Other?
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely not the "---" option, but either of the other two would be fine.
     
  3. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    Agree with Melzaar,

    As long as each has character has a new paragraph when they speak it doesn't matter.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It must always be 'explained the situation to me' not 'explained to me the situation'.

    The best option from the ones you give is Option 3. Option 1 is okay, but it is not necessary to start a new (indented) line for dialogue if the paragraph/previous sentence(s) is/are about just the one person and their actions, and they are the speaker in the following line of dialogue--especially in a more literary style. If you keep using a new line for dialogue in situations like this, it starts to look like a piece of scenario writing instead of a coherent piece of creative writing. Look at a selection of well-written novels--you will find that the writers tended not to use a new line every single time.

    You may want to put the dialogue on another line if the paragraph is already very long, or place it on a new line to draw more attention to it, if you want to give it greater emphasis, e.g.
    Fr. Peter broke the ice by asking us about our current occupations, but quickly got to the matter at hand. His eyes narrowed, and he gripped his hands tightly together.
    (indent 5 spaces on new line)"I have to say here and now that I can't marry you in my church.”
    For a moment I was dumbfounded, and then... etc etc
     
  5. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Thanks a lot for the suggestions!
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    #3 is best, imo...

    indenting the line of dialog that follows the narrative relating to who says it, as in #1 is not a good idea, as it can then seem to be another character's dialog, since there is no dialog tag following it...
     
  7. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    4, other, I guess.

    Instead of referring to dialog/action, why not just have it in there. If it's not important that the guy is asking about occupations and that the reader is informed he broke the ice, then cut it out (referential summary tells us it's not important, or else it wouldn't be summarized in the first place). If you just start with the meat of the matter the reader won't suddenly assume nobody broke the ice and stop reading.

    Basically, deliver action, don't just refer to it. There are times and places for summary (to compress larger amounts of time, usually), but one sentence to set up dialog isn't usually a good use of summary. It ends up sounding awkwardly removed, like a stage direction or something.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    would help if you showed what 'other' way could work, pops... example, please?
     
  9. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Examples? Like re-write someone else's scene when I don't know the context, or should I just link to a library or bookstore? :p

    I just mean, instead of summarizing things, just write them out in scene.

    So instead of:

    Write out what occurred that 'broke the ice,' show the actual dialog that was asked about occupations, and then give context/scene clues that things quickly 'got to the matter at hand' (the last being pretty badly a writer interjection, since we're nowhere near an actual character's perceptions).

    Fr. Peter = Friar, right? Anyhow, assuming that for this exercise :p

    "Come in, come in," the Friar said. "Please, sit."
    Joe led Peggy to the hard-backed chairs and waited for her to sit first.
    It seemed the polite thing to do, and he wanted to make a good impression since their getting married seemed to depend on it.
    "So," boomed the rotund Friar, "What do you kids do for livings?"
    "Well--" Joe started saying, but his words caught in his throat. Peggy put her hand on Joe's leg. "I'm a square dance instructor," she said, "and Joe races camels."
    The Friar leaned in, seeming not at all interesting in their occupations. “Your friend Luisa explained to me the situation. Why is it that you want to get married?”
    Joe looked at Peggy, knowing he still couldn't speak. This all felt too much like confessional. Like he was committing some kind of sin wanting to marry Peggy.


    Like that hastily written example. The problem with "Fr. Peter broke the ice by asking us about our current occupations, but quickly got to the matter at hand" is that it's not really doing anything but getting us to the dialog, and could literally mean anything so doesn't really build meaning. Either write it out in a way that adds to the story, or just open the scene where the 'important' part starts. Meaning, either way, scenes should open by establishing the scene in relevance, not rushing the reader past inconsequential stuff to get the the point of relevance.
     

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