1. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    Unusual Dialog Tag

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Spacer, Jan 26, 2011.

    Consider this fragment:

    The ellipses in the quote indicate the way her voice trailed off, and might convey that this is just an excerpt of her general actions that continued for some time. I would normally put a comma in the quotes here. So I put the comma after the ellipses.

    How should this be written?
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    You wouldn't need the comma as it isn't a dialogue tag. A dialogue tag, would be: She said, He said etc..
    It would just be "Professor...."
    Just another suggestion: Maybe it should be she then went to the small refrigerator tucked underneath the table?
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    It'd only be "the table" if it was not the first time we'd heard about it. I'd say leave that bit alone if it's an introduction to the table. :p

    but yeah, it's fine to end on ellipses if it's trailing off. They're punctuation in their own right, same as you wouldn't put "really?," or "gosh!," when writing.

    Also ouch. Those hurt to type. :p
     
  4. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    You tell us this one word ‘Professor’ is spoken softly. Therefore I think it needs no more elaboration.

    Is it of any importance what size the refrigerator is or where it is positioned? If so, maybe the kitchen should be described in more detail before the sentence.

    The kitchen was neat and tidy with a row of under-the-counter appliances on the far wall. She tapped his hand and called softly, “Professor.” Without waiting for an answer, she went over to the refrigerator.

    If the size and the positioning of the refrigerator is irrelevant then just say she went to the refrigerator.
     
  5. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Usually when I see an ellipsis, I consider it either a trailing off or an omission of words. Here, since you only have one word, it's rather difficult to imagine how she might trail off with just one word (that may just be me), especially since she's basically whispering (honestly try to whisper the word "professor" and trail off at the end of it).

    Me personally, I'd remove the ellipsis and take out the words "and called softly" and "then" to have it read something like: She tapped his hand. "Professor?" She went to the small refrigerator tucked under the table against the wall.

    Obviously this could change the context, so maybe: "Professor," she called softly (or whispered) and tapped his hand. She went to the refrigerator tucked under the table against the wall.

    If you absolutely must have the ellipsis, maybe try something like: She tapped his hand and called softly, "Professor, I found the..." No response. Eyes wide. Damn! She went to the refrigerator tucked beneath the table against the wall.

    I'd say play with it a bit maybe, and then read it aloud to yourself to see how it sounds (and if that's how you intended for it to sound).
     
  6. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    "The Refrigerator" brings to mind a normal kitchen 'fridge. That seems a strange thing to have in someone's office. I mean for it to be a tiny drink fridge. Putting it under a table conveys this. Perhaps the cups and other snack stuff is above; it's not really important.

    It's to be a short story, so I don't want to get bogged down in detail.
     
  7. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    Here is a longer passage.

    I'm trying for economy of words, and the "moving to the fridge" indicates that she moved away from him momentarily, giving him his space to awaken.
     
  8. Boring Editor
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    Boring Editor Member

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    She tapped his hand, called softly, “Professor. . .” then went to the small refrigerator tucked under a table along one wall.

    I know this wasn't part of the question, so feel free to ignore me, but is it important we know the size of the refrigerator or where it is? If so, fine. If not, consider an edit.

    The most recent quote is punctuated incorrectly, by the way. If you want an edit, just say so.

    Actually, "the table" implies there is only one table along one wall; "a table" implies there are at least two.
     
  9. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you really need to mention the fact that the fridge was under the table along the wall.
     
  10. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    It is not important, other than clarifying that it is suitable for an office.

    Trilby, we don't really need to know the layout of the room either. As part of the character, his office is very neat and orderly almost to the point of OCD, in contrast to the typical absent-minded professor. But I've not mentioned those details in the story.

    As it turns out, I moved the action to another setting. I was originally intending to do more of a Nero Wolfe.

    Please show me.
     
  11. Boring Editor
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    Sure.

    (Unless you meant elegant-blue, "elegant, blue. . .")

    The sentence is awkward and long for such a trivial action. Consider how necessary "ignoring the thin straw and all instructions printed on the pouch" is; people will see her familiarity for her duties without it. If you don't think so, though, "thin" and "printed on the pouch" are most definitely redundant.
     

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