1. huskies
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    huskies Member

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    Unspoken conversations?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by huskies, Jan 9, 2012.

    In my story I have characters that communicate through thought, to highlight this I have just simply used slanted writing will this be ok?

    Also my problem that I am finding with all my conversations is the in-between parts. Should you always have a description of what the character is doing while speaking or can the conversation just flow do I need to always point out who says what?

    I personally think it reads well enough that you don’t need to be told who is speaking but it feels strange not having a pause in the conversation to say 'Jane stared out the window whilst they talked' or something like that.

    This is my first draft so I’m not too concerned as I will go back and fill it out but is it ok to go from one character talking to another character without telling the reader that this has happened?
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    For the thoughts, I'd use < > instead of italics. Italics are supposed to be used really sparingly, like to put emphasis on one occasional word. Doing it too much might annoy a lot of people.

    In dialogue, body language and character action is helpful if it gives insight as to the character's tone or mood. i.e. if a character says something where the words are friendly but he/she is secretly pissed, it could help convey that. Same with other tone-setters like if there's discordinant sounds, flickering lights, bad weather, etc. in the background and it supports the mood you're creating. But otherwise, no. Don't feel like you HAVE to insert a ton of backdrop. Certaintly not if it serves no purpose.
     
  3. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    The books I have read have communications through thoughts in italics,or any talking in thoughts even if it is to him/herself. If something in thoughts is emphasized it is in normal letters. If something in normal text is emphasized it is in italics.
    I say use what feels right to you and also make sure it is consistent throughout the story - a certain set of 'rules' how your story is written.
     
  4. Ziggy Stardust
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    Ziggy Stardust Active Member

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    You see, I'd prefer italics to < > :D

    I actually had a similar dilemma, my character needed to communicate non-verbally with a God. I used italics for this, to make it clear that he's communicating with the God rather than internally speaking about himself in third person or whatever.

    Since you havn't posted up an example of your work it's hard to give advice about how to structure dialogue. This is a quick example of how I tend to do it:

    It really depends what they're doing. If they're sitting at a table, specifically to talk, you can probably go longer without mentioning their actions. If they're for instance, fighting, and having a conversation at the same time (Think Princess Bride sword scene) then you'll need to describe their actions more often.

    I only really use "Bob said" if it's confusing who is talking.

    It can be a pain dealing with non-verbal speech, inner thoughts and dialogue.
     
  5. huskies
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    huskies Member

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    Thank you for the replys, Ziggy Stardust thank you for the example it is more when there just sat around i find it difficult to try and put in actions when really they havent moved so i try to explain there emotions but again this seems pointless as the words there speaking are doing this .

    As for the italics i thought this would be the best way but now not to sure as i have alot of speach in this as the mc comunicates with most by thought.
     
  6. Ziggy Stardust
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    Ziggy Stardust Active Member

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    Yeah you don't want big sections of italics, that's just annoying to read. But it's hard to make a judgement without actually seeing it.

    I can't really comment on your dialogue without reading it. But it is preferable to have emotions come through in the dialogue itself rather than through a description following it. All I can really suggest is to observe how other writers deal with such situations. Remember that even when people are sitting at a table, they are still doing things. Describe their body language, does someone lean forward at something another person says? Do they shift uncomfortably? Are they staring off into space bored out of their brains? Are they drumming their fingers on the table? Etc, etc. The movements are more subtle, but they are still there, and they're still important.
     
  7. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I have seen book where they do telepathy in italics and it really works. I use that in one of my books. But if you have large sections of "thought dialogue" then I'd look for something else.

    As far as how often you need a dialogue tags, there is some kind of standard rule that you shouldn't go more than four or five lines without referring to who is speaking (less if there are more than two people in the conversation). It is up to the author to decide what kind of dialogue tag you use. Like you, my favorite tag is a 'beat' but I certainly use the he said, she said tags from time to time.
     
  8. huskies
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    huskies Member

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    Thanks for that i guess it is a good rule of thumb to stick to the five lines reading back i dont actually think i have gone more than this anyway.
     

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