1. VicZA
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    VicZA New Member

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    Spelling out a word

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by VicZA, Feb 23, 2016.

    Hi All, my first post here - very excited as I have just recently turned to writing and am looking forward at trying my hand at this - I find the research of subject matter and the understanding of correct grammar and punctuation quite fascinating !!

    So, for my first question ... please help with the following:

    If one of my characters was spelling out a name, say the name of another character while writing it down, how would I write that ? What punctuation is used ? Commas, Hyphens, None? I would like to show a deliberate pause between letters, as if the character was struggling to get the name right, or reading it out aloud, letter by letter.

    As an example :

    He sat at his chair, opened the register and began writing his name. S-T-E-V-E-N (is this correct?)
    He sat at his chair, opened the register and began writing his name. S,T,E,V,E,N (is this correct?)
    He sat at his chair, opened the register and began writing his name. S T E V E N (is this correct?)

    Thanks in advance - cheers for now
    Vic
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Of those options, I'd go for the hyphens. But if I read any of those, I wouldn't get the impression that the writer was struggling to spell it unless I already knew he had literacy problems. If I were writing it, I'd probably describe the action:

    He sat at his chair, opened the register and laboriously wrote the name letter by letter.
    He sat at his chair, opened the register and frowned as he tried to spell the name.

    It's pre-coffee, but you get the idea. :D
     
  3. VicZA
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    VicZA New Member

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    Hahahaha - like the "pre-coffee" reference

    I agree and I will describe the action, but I also want the reader to understand that he actually spells it wrong (no as in my example) - it has significance later on in the book.

    Make sense ?

    Regards,
    Vic
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Yep, that makes more sense :)
     
  5. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    What is the actual name then, and how does he misspell it, if you don't mind telling?
    I would have a sense of him going through it, in both action and his feelings.
    Like this; He sat at his char, opened the register, and wrote hesitantly; S-T-E-V-E-N. Six letters. Go it.
     
  6. VicZA
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    VicZA New Member

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    Here is the extract:

    “How do you spell that?”
    “What? … Stephen?”
    “Ja!”
    “With a ph -- not a v
    “OK! So … S – t – e – ph – a – n … Stephan. It’s like Stefan, just little bit diff-rent hey”, he exclaims excitedly, leaning back in his chair, peering down the bridge of his nose at the ragged piece of paper he's jotting the names down on – I’m surprised he's able to read his own writing, I certainly can’t.

    And here's the explanation:
    - he still spells the name with an "a" instead of an "e" (that's the mistake)
    - he does this because he is familiar with the name Stefan, which is an Afrikaans name
    - the guy jotting down the names is Afrikaans speaking, hence his English grammar is also bad as well as his pronunciation of the word "different": he pronounces it as "diff-rent"

    Note: if you lived in South Africa, or even spent some time over here, this would make a lot more sense.
     

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