1. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    walk and chew gum

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by madhoca, Dec 18, 2008.

    I'm going over the tattered draft of my novel and coming up with some irritating mannerisms.

    One stems from the fact that I didn't always integrate dialogue and action.

    I would write something like:
    "I'm leaving now," said Janet. She put on her coat and went out, slamming the door.

    Then I read (I'm sorry I can't remember where) advice on integrating, which the advisor called the 'walk and chew gum' syndrome.

    SO--I began instead to write something like:
    "I'm leaving," said Janet, putting on her coat. "Now." Going out, she slammed the door.

    Now I have '-ing's all over the place.

    Has anyone got some really fantastic snippets of their writing to illustrate how they like to do it, or tips about integrating dialogue and action?
     
  2. ArckAngel
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    ArckAngel Member

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    Well, you could always try something like this:
    "I'm leaving," said Janet, as she put her coat on, "Now." She slammed the door on her way out.
    Though having things end in -ing- isn't always bad either, just as long as it isn't all the time.
     
  3. de la vega
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    de la vega Member

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    Or rather: "I'm leaving," said Janet as she put her coat on. "Now." (needs a full stop instead of a comma) I'm not sure about the "now" hanging out like that. It's a little awkward. But good suggestion anyway. However, using "as" can get repetitive. yada yada as she did this. yada yada as he this - just the same as the -ing participle can get repetitive.

    There's nothing wrong with this at all, actually. Yes, it's good to integrate, but there's nothing wrong with choosing not to integrate. It all depends on your style of writing - what works best for you. Also, of course, you have to consider when something is getting repetitive or robotic. You want to avoid that as well.

    There are so many different ways you can write this. Here's an example from one of my stories where the action comes before the quote.

    Leaning over the railing, her hair hanging in her face, she said, “Do you ever wonder why you don’t jump?”

    Also, you can leave out the dialogue tag.

    "I'm leaving." She put on her coat and went out, slamming the door.

    When done in this way, it's obvious it was Janet who spoke, and so you don't need the dialogue tag.

    This is a great topic for a thread, by the way.
     
  4. Chey
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    Chey New Member

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    Yes, this is a great topic.. I feel like everytime I type dialog I end up making them 'do something' as they're talking. All of the 'ings' drive me crazy as well. Last time I got fed up with it, I opened a book and realized that the author did the very same thing so maybe we are just over thinking it.
     
  5. ArckAngel
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    ArckAngel Member

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    I usually take a note from Hemingway when it comes to tagging dialog. If there are two people talking, I tend to not tag them unless absolutely necessary. People can tell who's talking by the rhythm.

    Frank
    Sam
    Frank
    Sam

    And if they do something while talking, then I say what they did. Ya don't always have to say every little thing. But if he sighs and leaves, that adds tone as well.
    "Fine." Frank said with a sigh as he left.
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually don't see a problem at all with what you originally wrote. If you see her saying that first and then putting on her coat and leaving, then you wrote it fine since that's exactly what you just described. Now if throughout the story you have her announcing her actions before doing it, I'd get kind of annoyed reading it worded that way over and over.

    If she's actually putting on her coat while saying it, then I might write: "I'm leaving now," Janet said as she put on her coat. She left the house, slamming the door behind her.
     
  7. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    About the overuse of -ings, I have this same problem too. This might help -

    I've just opened up a Sara Zarr book (Sweethearts) and read this:

    This is really clear what's happening here. The other way she could have written it is: "Excuse me?" Mom said, blinking a few times.

    But the way Zarr does it eliminates the -ing.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Leaning over the railing, her hair hanging in her face, she said, “Do you ever wonder why you don’t jump?”
    Nice.

    You know, I hardly ever put the speech at the end...hmnn... (goes back to pawing over aforementioned tatty manuscript).
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Why not?

    Jannet put on her coat. "I'm leaving, now." She slammed the door.

    Or,

    "I'm leaving, now." Jannet put on her coat and slammed the door.
     
  10. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I'm with de la vega on this one. One should always beware of following any sort of "writing style" advice blindly for the very reasons that 1. it's style advice, which is not right or wrong but depends on the preference of the writer giving/taking it; and 2. following it too often can become just as bad as breaking actual writing rules. Unless the advice is in reference to grammar and spelling, which are more technical details and not quite as style related, take it with a grain of salt. Don't assume that just because a published writer or an instructor says you should (stylistically) do something one way means you HAVE to always do it that way. If I'd blindly listened to my "creative writing" instructor, for example, I would not write scenes like I'm envisioning them in a movie, I would not use words like "infinitesimal" because they're too big and complicated, and I would not use the word "seem" because according to him, "Something doesn't 'seem'! It either is or it isn't!" Oh yes. And I wouldn't be writing genre work either, because genre sucks compared to literary.

    It always seems to boil down to putting way too much thought into the process. I just write the thing. I don't even bother thinking about integrating action with dialogue. Writing can get too stilted if you analyze EVERY single little part of the process. If it's integrated then it's integrated. If not, that's fine. Whatever works best. *shrug*
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But most new writers should be working on developing their own individual styles. A good part of that is picking up something here, and something else there, littkle techiques that feel RIGHT to you.

    So you shouldn't snatch up every style suggestion that is thrown at you, but neither should you don impenetrable battle armor against style suggestions.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I can see the danger. I'm way too perfectionist/obsessive as it is. But the different ideas you guys have is useful, too. And Cogito's words of wisdom, as ever.
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Went back to writing again, but this well-known (in Turkey) story kept going through my head (about just keeping on trying). Thought you may be interested!
    Nasrettin Hoca is a (real) character in Turkish folk history, for those who haven't heard of him.

    Nasreddin Hoca's family gave him a saz (a type of stringed instrument).
    ‘Give us a tune!’ they said.
    Nasreddin Hoca ran his fingers over the strings at random, making a noise.
    ‘Hoca!’ they said, ‘that's no way to play! You need to find the pitch and play properly.’
    Nasreddin Hoca, continuing the terrible noise, answered: ‘My hands can’t find the pitch, but they're looking for it. When I've have found it, I won't be able to have the fun of looking.’
     

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