1. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Three in one (:

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jwatson, Nov 23, 2009.

    Hi everyone

    I'll get straight to it

    1- I am a complete failure when it comes to indenting. All my teachers say it! I don't understand. Is the indent not just the tab button on one's key board? The one with two arrows, one over the other? Someone told me the indent is just 5 spaces. I think that's right, but then is there a way to have the tab button just be 5 spaces on word 07? Sorry for the stupid question...

    2- Is it a bad idea to include poetry in my novel? One of my main characters is a poet and the poems I include are usually pretty short and provide some meaning regarding the writer's past life. I've actually started (for now) a draft of my novel with a poem.

    3- Is there really a difference between:

    Where is everyone? he thought.

    He wondered where everyone was.

    On a similar note, if I am writing in third person, instead of saying something like "He wondered..." is it wrong to full out throw the question in there?

    "He wondered who killed Trevor. He thought about Tabatha and whether or not she was still alive."

    OR

    "Who killed Trevor? Was Tabatha still alive?"

    I can understand if this depends on how it is used in the writing, but generally I struggle because I like to bring the questions right in there. I think it can build suspense but I also don't want to be making a dumb mistake, supposing it is one...

    Thanks in advance,

    J
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    1. As far as I know, Word's indents are made by the tab key and are standard...if your teacher wants something different they need to specify...(I think the Word one is about .5")

    2. It depends on how good the poem is. If it makes sense and is well written, I can't see any publishers having a problem with it, but like all things, if it's poorly done it will be awful.

    3. Again, it depends on how well you write it. Generally, I dislike directly questioning the reader, but if went something like: His mind raced with questions. Who killed Trevor? Was Tabitha still alive? then I don't think it would be a problem. As for the difference between quoting the actual thought or not, the difference is only in how it affects the narration; one brings you much closer to the character than the other, although that isn't always preferable.
     
  3. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    1) Ask your teachers what they are wanting. Why is what you are doing not right?

    2) I have read books with poems, and if they are done well, they can add to the story. Makes it a little more fun / interesting.

    3) I agree with Arron's wording, I think that comes across nicely. Saying 'He wondered who killed Trevor." Seems a little forced, seems to separate the reader from the story. The reader should also be wondering these things, but you don't want to be directly asking the reader them either. So like Arron said - His mind raced with questions. Who killed Trevor? Was Tabitha still alive? Seems to make the most sense. To me, anyways.
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    "He wondered who killed Trevor."

    I prefer this most of the time. I don't feel like I am being asked a question at all. I feel like the character is wondering something.

    But even, "where was everyone?" doesn't make me feel like I am being asked the question. I understand this is the character's thoughts.

    You could also just narrate it.

    Trevor wasn't around and that bothered him. He might have went to . . .
     
  5. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    jwatson;555207]Hi everyone

    I'll get straight to it

    1- I am a complete failure when it comes to indenting. All my teachers say it! I don't understand. Is the indent not just the tab button on one's key board? The one with two arrows, one over the other? Someone told me the indent is just 5 spaces. I think that's right, but then is there a way to have the tab button just be 5 spaces on word 07? Sorry for the stupid question...


    I never use the tab button. I find it easier to just format my paragraphs to have a 1/2 inch indent. as far as I know that is the proper size for indentation of the first line in a paragraph. If you go to the top tool bar, in either word or open office, under Format and then click on Paragraph, it will bring up a tool box. In that box there is a tab at the top for Indenting and Alignment (at least in open office, should be similar in word.) In open office you have the option to indent the First line, and you can pick the amount of space to indent. I go with .5 for my indentation, and you can either do this before you start typing, or select the entire piece before going into this tool box and it will be applied to the entire piece.

    2- Is it a bad idea to include poetry in my novel? One of my main characters is a poet and the poems I include are usually pretty short and provide some meaning regarding the writer's past life. I've actually started (for now) a draft of my novel with a poem.

    As long as it applies to the story, I see no reason not to include it. It is a part of your character, so they would naturally write poetry and it would feel like it fits in the story. Since this person is a poet though, you'll want to make sure it is well written, but you could also have it not so well written and that is part of your character's flaw.

    3- Is there really a difference between:

    Where is everyone? he thought.

    He wondered where everyone was.

    On a similar note, if I am writing in third person, instead of saying something like "He wondered..." is it wrong to full out throw the question in there?

    Either one of these works. The first one is a much closer third person pov, the second is more of a pulled back version. Normally the formatting I see for internal dialog comes in the form of italics, but that is a publishers choice, so I would put it in quotes for your manuscript purposes.


    "He wondered who killed Trevor. He thought about Tabatha and whether or not she was still alive."

    OR

    "Who killed Trevor? Was Tabatha still alive?"
    I don't really like that first sentenct, something about it doesn't flow right. He could wonder who killed Trevor, and if Tabatha is still alive, but there is no need to put them in separate sentences. It gives it too much herky-jerkiness to the reading flow. As for the quotes, yes they would work if that is what he is thinking. "Who killed Trevor? Is Tabatha still alive?" I wouldn't use "was Tabatha" because it is his thought processes and we rarely think with a "was" it be "is."

    I can understand if this depends on how it is used in the writing, but generally I struggle because I like to bring the questions right in there. I think it can build suspense but I also don't want to be making a dumb mistake, supposing it is one...

    I think it's okay for characters to ask themselves questions in their thoughts, but sometimes it can seem like the author is trying too hard to build suspense and comes off kind of...umm...silly I guess is what I'm looking for. The situations should build the suspense, the questions shouldn't. The reader should already be wondering these things themselves from the content of the situations, and it doesn't have to be reinforced by having the character ask himself the same questions. You could have him worry about if Tabatha is still alive, without asking a question. Just thinking about Tabatha being dead could be a good place to inject some of your character's inner feelings. Maybe he wants to seek revenge for Trevor's death, which he could think about, without asking a question as to who killed Trevor.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, it is...

    it is, which comes out to .5" in courier, the most universally acceptable ms font... but 5 spaces does not come out to .5" in all fonts [such as times new roman] and the inch spacing is what is mandatory...

    the tab button should be preset to indent .5"... if it isn't, then you can set it to do that... go to the help menu and look up how...

    depends on whose it is, where you put it, and how it's done...

    some writers can get away with a line or two as a chapter intro, but more than that could annoy most readers and thus most agents/publishers...

    then the poetry had better be top quality and there'd better be a good reason for it being wherever you put it...

    sure there is... one is interior dialog and the other is narrative... also, you can't stick a '?' in the middle of a narrative sentence...

    nothing wrong with that, as long as the " " are only to indicate a quote of your narrative excerpt and are not in your ms...

    that only works if your narrator is the one doing the asking and if it's interior dialog/thoughts, not put in " " ... and if it is the narrator asking, then s/he wouldn't be thinking 'was'... it would be 'is'...

    hope this helps... love and hugs, maia
     
  7. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Thank you everyone this helped so much.

    I'm very nervous about the poetry I have included. It is not by the protagonist, but by someone the protagonist is with the entire novel (but my pro does not know this guy is the writer). The thing is, I feel as though the poetry will make the particular character more interesting and more likable. And also, maia, it's about 5 lines of poetry. To be honest, I'm not the greatest poet so I know I will have to fix it up since it is rough, but is 5 lines really that annoying?

    Thanks again everyone,
    J

    p.s
    Won't the poetry, if not annoy the reader, raise questions such as: "Who the HELL is writing this stuff?" or "Why on earth is the author of this novel including poetry?" Are these definitely annoying questions?
     
  8. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    And I miscalculated. Although the poetry is approximately 5-6 lines long, there are pretty short lines too. Still though, I can't decide if they are doing more damage than anything else...
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that depends... is it that many lines total, or that many lines in more than one place, such as heading each chapter?... if the former, it's probably not... if the latter, it probably will be...

    sure it will, if you don't tell them whose it is and give some clue to why it's there...

    that, too!...

    not at all... you needed to know, so you asked... and that's what this site is here for...
     
  10. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Thank you maia! :)
     

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