1. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Thoughts on how to write dialogue regaurding punctuated vs. splitting it up

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cave Troll, Sep 17, 2015.

    Hi,

    Just been noticing that a lot of stories I have looked at here have a strange form of dialogue format. Instead of : "Blah and blah", so and so says. I see a lot of: "Blah and blah." So and so says + adjective. I guess it seems strange as that is not familiar to me when I read books. The former is much more common and feels natural. Though the latter has rubbed off on me a bit from the amount of exposure.

    So what are your thoughts regarding dialogue when you write it when it comes to how you format it, and which do you prefer?
     
  2. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Are you talking about when people write the dialogue and its tag as two separate sentence(fragment)s? Because, if we are talking sentence fragments trying to be dialogue tags, that is one of my biggest pet peeves ever in writing.

    The way I was taught, like, in second grade is:

    "Hello," the person said. <-- correct.
    "Hello." The person said it cheerily, etc etc finish sentence whatever. <-- also correct.
    These ^ are both examples of complete sentences, not fragments.

    "Hello." The person said. <-- nope. No. NO.
    "Hello." The person said. A completely new sentence was added here. <-- no! Slap you with a brick!
    The person said is not a complete thought, sentence, or anything, so... whenever I see dialogue like this I just want to find the author and punish them. :dry: ... Perhaps I take my dialogue tagging far more seriously than the average writer. I dunno.
     
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  3. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Kind of. I wasn't looking for which was right and which was wrong. I was just wondering the difference between using a comma and starting a new sentence that narrates the dialogue. But I see what you mean, sentence fragments are bad in this context. :p
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I don't understand the question. If they are saying something like "Blah and blah." Said Harry, cheerily. it's just wrong. Or are you talking about using a beat e.g. "Blah and blah." Harry smiled at me.?
     
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  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    The way it is written. I will supply better examples from two different pieces.

    “Yes, Sergeant” , I loudly proclaim my compliance.
    This feels much more natural to me, and seems to be more common in what I have read through out the years.


    “Oh no Double D, you cannot be going out in that.” She comments on my more conservative choice of dressing.
    This is what I find to be the norm on here. Not saying it is wrong, just unfamiliar to me.

    The second is what I am calling split, because it does not flow the same way to me as the former. Look at this way (still not saying it is incorrect). When you speak normally in conversation the tone and everything is present at the time you say it. The other almost feels like if you are speaking and then explaining the tone, or what your directly implicating, to the one you are speaking to (at least in a real world context). Hope this makes a bit more sense in what I mean. Like you don't narrate your speaking pattern and so forth, but it some how works in writing (IDK, I just find it intriguing and a little out of the norm.)
     
  6. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have no idea what you've been reading, Cave Troll, but please don't be influenced by it, because it's quite simply incorrect.

    "Yes, Sergeant" , I loudly proclaim my compliance. This is incorrect.

    It should be: "Yes, Sergeant," I loudly proclaim my compliance. However, this sentence itself is terribly clumsy and certainly not how I would expect any skilled writer to construct it.

    The same goes for: “Oh no Double D, you cannot be going out in that.” She comments on my more conservative choice of dressing.

    I don't know where you've seen this style of writing, but you'd be best advised to disregard it completely. The latter is simply bad writing, and that's why it doesn't sound right to you.
     
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  7. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    This is just plain old redundancy. By having a character speak, and then tell the reader that they did in fact speak, ruffles my reader-feathers to no end.

    "Oh no, Double D, you cannot be going out in that." We already know she's commenting on your choice of dress, don't beat us over the head with it. Give the reader some responsibility.

    Spoon-feeding prose reminds me of 50 Shades of Oh God Why; that author just repeatedly forced everything down our throats. WE GET IT.

    I don't mean to yell at you ^^;
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Am I missing something, or are these two exactly the same?

    The more fundamental problem is you shouldn't have to tell the reader that you are proclaiming your compliance, loudly or otherwise. It should be obvious from the context. So, if the context is that the character in question - an army private, let's say - has been mulling come act of defiance, and his sergeant orders him to do something we already know he doesn't want to do or thinks is wrong, and the private responds, "Yes, Sergeant!" then we already know he's proclaimed his compliance (does anyone actually write that way?) and that's he's done so loudly.

    It's amazing how often simplifying the writing solves the problem.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  9. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    I like you, @EdFromNY .
     
  10. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're missing something - the position of the comma.

    However, you and Imaginarily are correct in saying that the tag is total redundant in both cases.

    To put it another way, Cave Troll, those examples are the same as writing, "Get out here!" He yelled at me to get out.
     
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  11. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I never said I was good at writing it. Though I have a truck load of commas I need to go and move. I was just pointing out the differences in format of how I have seen it written. Sorry I am so bad at dialogue, I will make sure to make the next thing I work on a picture book. :( It was suppose to be an example. Nice to know that my dialoguing skills are just plain shit. :(

    Well that was insightful and a bit discouraging. Think I will hang up the old keyboard for awhile, because I fear the rest of what I have written so far is shit as well. :(
     
  12. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's not fair, Cave Troll, and I refuse to take the guilt trip.

    If you ask for help and advice on here, expect truthful replies. In terms of tactfulness, if you'd made it clear the examples were your own, I would have considered my words more. But you kept referring to 'examples you'd seen on here' and I presumed you'd lifted said examples from elsewhere.

    We're all here to learn, and hanging up your keyboard will achieve nothing.
     
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  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I didn't realise those were examples of your writing and I expect the other posters didn't either!

    Don't be discouraged, anyway. This is something so easily fixed that you don't need to bat an eyelid and it will actually save you time. As a basic rule of thumb, only use a tag if you need one (e.g. if you need to identify who's spoken, because it isn't obvious.) Don't use one if it's telling us something we already know, as in Our Jud's example.

    Edit: Cross posted with Our Jud.
     
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  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you plan on trying to get published, you'd better start growing a thicker skin right now. No one said anything that was insulting or demeaning, we simply pointed out weaknesses in your writing so that you can improve on them. Whether you take the advice and improve or not is entirely up to you.
     
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  15. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Two things that helped me write better dialogue.
    Write it stripped -
    "I'm gonna kick your ass, Megetti."
    "Try it, bunchmunch."
    If it works no action is needed, no frills no tags. The reader will get it. Plus you can focus on being colorful and emphasizing character without a tag to back up the tone.
    But if I find that there could be an emptiness to the visual, tone or emotion or a discrepancy in how it's taken -
    "What do you want me to do?"
    "Beg."
    - I elaborate.
    "What do you want me to do?" John asked. Pride wouldn't allow one tear to fall.
    Joan smiled. "Beg."

    I use tags sparingly and only reference the emotion in the dialogue when I feel an absolute need for a tell for clarity sake. In my WIP first draft I've used -complained, whooped, and told him. Some of the other lines I've used are - said annoyed, said sarcastically when I wasn't sure the reader would get it.
    Just practice CaveTroll. It takes a while to get comfortable writing dialogue. I've had a rough climb not sounding hammy. And sometimes I still fall into long hammy monologues. :rolleyes:
     
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  16. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    This whole thing is about format and formula, not criticizing how terrible my personal writing style is. They are examples and I did not want to just waltz in with others dialogue, so I used my own. Just to keep things honest, and no one can say I am 'stealing' their work.

    On the other hand, these were stripped out of conversations of two different types of personalities (and two different pieces). They are not redundant when you see them in the bigger picture that they are apart of. That and they are way more effective at showing the differences in the formula and format, than using my original Blah, and so and so examples. Just wondering preferences and effect between the two ways of using them. So don't feel guilty about it. I have been going through some things and am just a little sensitive at the moment (actually been pretty damn hard on myself). Now you know. :p
     
  17. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Never thought about writing it that way before. Will it work from a first POV? Though I try to use dialogue sparingly, and get more into their thoughts.
     
  18. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Should. I haven't written much in first. But I don't see why not.
     
  19. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    No one is saying the dialogue itself is redundant. We're saying the tags you've attached to the dialogue are redundant.
     
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