1. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    What's a better way to write "Welllllll...."

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Chaoslogic, Apr 5, 2009.

    Writing "Wellllllllllllllllllll".

    This shouldn't bother me, but I'm stuck trying to decide how to describe "Wellllllllllllllll"; that is, a character starting a sentence with "Well", but dragging out the sound of the word ... kind of like trailing off.

    This is what I've come up with. I'm not sure if it gets the point across. If there's a better way to write it, please let me know.

    “Well,” she trailed off and took a deep breath. “I was born in Hong Kong and raised here."
     
  2. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    That works for me, but there should be a period after well.

    Well," she said, dragging the word out, "I was born in Hong Kong and raised here."
     
  3. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    yes i agree with architectus,

    needed a period and frankly, i use 'well' when i'm talking. conversation is a funny thing in a story, it doesn't really follow rules as closely as outside those speech tags. people talk in their own way, sometimes with slang, sometimes badly. got to love speech tags, they the 'get-the-hell-out-of-grammar-jail' free cards.
     
  4. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    Thanks, guys. :D
     
  5. x_raichelle_x
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    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

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    I can totally imagine how the character says this, coz I know I do it, its like a 'Wellllll.....' starting off really high & then kinda trailing off, & I think the guys above me got it right, the only other option I can think of would be just
    'Well...' she dragged the word out, clearly wondering how to phrase the end of her answer, '...I was born in Hong Kong and raised here.'

    I'm pretty sure my punctuation marks arent where they should be there, but I'm at work & cant really concentrate haha.
    x
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Welllll" Are you emphasizing the el or the e? This format does not read right to me.

    I would prefer the ellipsis format better and it doesn't even need the narrative explanation about "dragging out" the word. What does it matter if the hesitation results in a "Weeeeeeelllll" or "Well..."? It makes no difference to the reader or the plot. The point is, the scene calls for indecision or hesitation. Don't try to color every little nuance of the reader's experience. Use the ellipsis and trust your reader to supply whichever interpretation of "Well" as he/she sees fit.
     
  7. burned_out
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    burned_out Member

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    Feel free to ignore this little piece of my own advice, but maybe you could use an ellipsis?

    "Well...I was born in Hong Kong and raised here."

    I'm not sure exactly what your style is, so like I said, feel free to ignore this.
     
  8. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I'd agree with the poster above me. The "Well...I was born in Hong Kong and raised here," version eliminates unnecessary wordiness as an ellipsis is immediately indicative of trailing off. I personally think it's best to avoid any sort of break (rather through an ellipsis or em-dash) in dialogue.

    ~Lynn
     
  9. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    Ellipses.

    How could I have forgotten them?

    I feel slightly ridiculous.
     
  10. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I would like to respectfully disagree with everyone here.
    Before reading any other posts in this thread after the first, I already knew that NO ONE was going to say that writing 'wellllll' is a good way to go.
    Why? Because it's not orthodox.
    It gets the point across, and I have seen it done in several books written for preteens, but since it is somewhat atypical, it is OBVIOUSLY wrong.

    I know that the author of the thread wanted to avoid using it, and that's fine, but it is lame that EVERYTHING that isn't exactly 'right' is automatically tossed aside.

    I don't feel ANYTHING when you write it with an ellipsis.
    Naturally, the whole, 'show, don't tell' thing is completely irrelevant, here, even though it applies more strongly than ever!
    The 'show, don't tell,' apparently only applies when it is only vaguely applicable.

    Writing, "Well. . . ." She trailed off. does not have the same effect in MY mind as a, "Weeeelllll. . . " She trailed off.

    But make sure to ignore anything not coinciding with the norm. After all, where would the world be with diversions from orthodoxy?
     
  11. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Lol. Ellipsis=friend. Unless you overuse them. Commas they are not. :p


    In a different light...

    Atari, I think you have a slightly valid point--a lot of us do discard certain aspects of our writing and change it in order to make it fit in an orthodox fashion. "Weeeelllll. . . " She trailed off, may emphasize the emotions more but if you're trying to get something published, a lot of editors/publishers aren't going to go for it. So while keeping your own style is definitely important, there are easier and subtler ways to insert your own influence without having to go entirely out of the realm of orthodox writing.

    ~Lynn
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    King gets away with it, lucky him. In several of his books he drags words out and sounds things out. Personally, I love it. Writing is supposed to do two main things, paint a picture and produce feelings, and if weeelll does that, I have no idea why anal publishers would give a damn.

    If I could get away with it, I would write stories also using smiley faces. I await the first publish book to do that, but it will have to be a light hearted novel, most likely a comedy.
     
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  13. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Lol architectus. A book with smileys! How awesome!
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I quick example.

    :eek: "You'll never believe it. She said yes."
    :rolleyes: "Whatever."
    :p "You know you're happy for me."
     
  15. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Yeah and you're crazy :D

    I think you should write it and then be like, PUBLISH IT! IT'S AN EXPERIMENT!!! :-D
     
  16. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I can't argue with the crazy part. :p
     
  17. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I have to say that although I'm dead-set against using emoticons in books, you did make apt use of them in that demonstration.

    I mean, hey; if manga, anime, cartoons and now movies can get away with it. . . .
     
  18. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I don't know whether we should include them but there are kids/YA novels written using txt/IMS language, smileys included...
    Which reminds me of something else absolutely terrible; in New Zealand (where I live), the govt, in their infinite wisdom has deemed it acceptable to use txt-speak in formal exams (with the obvious exception of english exams)...makes me sad :(
     
  19. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    sorry to get off-topic!
     
  20. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    I'm not entirely sure what this thread is about - I didn't go back to read the first page - but I just wanted to say that if any of the tests I ever took in the US (since for the most part, besides the big college tests it depends on state), I would probably move.

    And ellipses are friends. They are fun to use. And, just to go back to the topic for a moment, I think that the ellipse works well when it's paired with a dragged out weellll. But the 'well' can't be dragged out too long. I think that if it's just the ellipse, it makes it seem as if the well is kind of being lost in space instead of the 'well' that is dragged out - usually for the purpose of being sightly annoying. *shrugs*
     

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