1. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    When to start a new line...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ella Frank, Aug 3, 2011.

    Ok here's my question.

    I am by no means a professional writer. I love to do it, it's a hobby and this page has so many awesome tips and guidelines, my question today is;

    when do you move to the next line?

    I am talking about after speech in particular. Sorry if this seems like a really silly question and I believe I have the general grasp but I would like some clarification to improve.

    Thanks!

    Ella
    xx
     
  2. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    You mean when to start a new paragraph? Start a new paragraph when a new thought or idea begins. I know that's open to interpretation since thoughts flow into one another and there's rarely a sharp change in prose. But that's most of the logic behind it. Paragraph breaks are also used for breaks in time, for changes in speakers/dialog, or for dramatic effect. It's best to read-read-read and get an intuition about paragraphs for yourself.

    Generally speaking, a new paragraph starts when there's a break in something.
     
  3. Seye
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    Writing goes in a natural progression of events....action...reaction.

    You mentioned after Speech. I think it would be better if you gave an example of what you mean, often they show the best.
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Just when there's a new speaker. Like so:

    "How are you?" John asked.

    Fred sighed. "Not so great."

    New speaker, new paragraph. This goes for any length of dialog, not just snippets. If John had asked how Fred was and Fred replied with a long diatribe of his week, each speaker would still get a new paragraph. In fact, Fred's reply could be divided up into separate paragraphs if it flowed into separate ideas.
     
  5. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    Thanks for the replies, sorry i wasn't able to get an example in there, was sneaking in for a moment at work, but I understand what you mean and I actually think I have a good understanding of it, I read like a maniac so i should I was just wondering if you had come across any hard and fast rules.. :) Thanks again

    Ella
    xx
     
  6. Seye
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    What begins and ends sentences depends on the story. When you have time you can always write an example, because every writer has a different style, or at least they should, so an example with your writing makes any advice just for you.
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    "There is one issue not covered so far," thewordsmith added. "When you have one character with a long bit of dialogue that would naturally break into two or more paragraphs or where you might want to break up the writing with white space but there is no logical reason to insert description or another character's comments.

    "In the ever failing American school system at least, kids no longer understand the concept of the open quote, as in where a character's quote does, indeed, break across more than one paragraph and would have an opening quote at the beginning of each new paragraph with only one closing quote at the end of the entire quote."

    Most everyone on the forum sighed, bored with the repetition of information they already knew. But one person sat back and thought, "Ahh! I always wondered about that."
     
  8. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    "I covered that above," said lostinwebspace. :)
     
  9. Seye
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    I believe in that case you only need one set of " " rather than have each para enclosed by them.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You will find exceptions to that rule if you read widely enough -- Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede completely ignores it. But that was one of the many things about the handling of dialogue in that book that resulted in me finding it completely unreadable, so just because the rule isn't "hard and fast" doesn't mean you should ignore it.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you are referring to thewordsmith's post, look at it carefully. She doesn't have each paragraph enclosed by quotes. Each paragraph opens with a quote mark, but only the last paragraph has a closing quote mark. And that is indeed the conventional way to punctuate a quotation spanning multiple paragraphs.
     
  12. Seye
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    No, it is still incorrect. As the dialogue has not been broken, the " tags are not required at the end of the first para, nor at the beginning-end of the second. It is only needed at the final end of the conversation because there is where the dialogue ends.


    ETA: Rather than go off topic, we can agree to disagree. :)
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are right that there is no quote mark needed at the end of the first paragraph, and indeed there isn't one there. One is needed at the start of the second paragraph (and indeed there is one there). I think the fact that some people think it isn't needed might be why she made the snarky comment about the failing school system. :)

    Agreeing to disagree won't change the facts of the conventions for punctuating dialogue. See http://www3.hants.gov.uk/logos/cx-logos-corporatestandards/cx-logos-styleguide/cx-logos-generallayout/cx-logos-quotation.htm for instance: "If direct speech or a quotation consists of two or more consecutive paragraphs, use double quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but place them at the end of the last paragraph only." Still, I suppose if enough people fail to learn the convention it will cease to be a convention.
     
  14. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    Wow, you guys are all so very helpful. :) I was gone a day and came back to all of these suggestions. I was going to put in an example for you. I am still going over it but to set up the scene it is two sister's in a car coming home from a birthday;

    “Mom was all over you tonight at dinner dont you think?” Carly laughed rolling her eyes. She then launched into the exact imitation of their mother’s high pitched voice.
    “So Lena, when are you going to meet a nice boy and settle down? You spend too much time with your head stuck in a book studying.”


    Lena laughed turning her head to look at Carly as she grinned and stuck her tongue out. Reaching over Lena smacked her leg playfully. 


    “Thanks for driving me home sis. I swear to god if I don’t get a car soon I am going to go insane.”


    Lena focused back on the dark road in front of them as they waited at a red light.


    “Go insane? That’s impossible, you’re already there.”



    Ok so there it is. I guess I am trying to work out if it was confusing in who was talking? I feel at the point

    I feel like I need to switch around the wording of the sentence preceeding it, because the way it flows to me ends it that Lena is talking about getting a lift home when it is actually Carly..uggg lol.

    I am sure there are other mistakes in there because I am certainly not a professional, but I am just trying to work out if I have started a new paragraph where you would. I know all writer's differ that's what makes it different. For me, I have read it over and over and sometimes you loose sight of what you were looking for in the first place. Anyway thanks in advance :)

    Ella
    xx
     
  15. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'll assume the squares are paragraph breaks.

    It looks fine the way it is except there are a couple of lines where we're not sure who's talking. "Thanks for driving... go insane" has no speaker identified. Unless it's Lena, in which case, you should join that paragraph with the one where she focuses on the road. But that itself doesn't make sense: if Lena focuses on the road, I'll assume she's the driver and would therefore not thank her sister for a ride. But the previous paragraph is about Lena, too, so I'm not sure where the dialog goes.

    I know this isn't the issue you asked about, but get a hang of commas, too. They make the writing a lot clearer so we can help you figure out where to break those paragraphs.
     
  16. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    lostinspace -

    I know exactly the part you are talking about. I actually referenced it myself as the main issue. I think the line before needs to be tweaked or moved around to make the,

    make sense. I am actually going to play with it.

    Oh I know I need to work on where to place commas, they are probably my biggest issue. This page is very helpful and the people on it are amazingly kind and supportive as are the articles so I figure the more I read and learn and share the more I will improve!

    Thanks again

    Ella
    xx
     

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