1. Manic Writer
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    Manic Writer Member

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    Wiliam said.....or.....said William

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Manic Writer, Nov 21, 2011.

    "I am not sure," said William.

    "I am not sure," William said.

    I prefer the first but which one is correct or is it just a matter ofthe writer's preference?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Either is correct, though the latter seems more antiquated to me. Certainly, most authors these days go for the former. But it is down to writer's preference.
     
  3. FoxPaw
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    FoxPaw Senior Member

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    It's the author's preference and choice which one to use where. You could even mix it up a bit and put the verbs before the dialogue:

    William spoke up, "I'm not sure."

    etc.
     
  4. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Hmmm....

    If "he" were substituted for "William" in each example, the former would be ridiculous! :)

    What an odd language!
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Eh, I'm not sure that's actually correct. In that sentence, 'hesitated' doesn't describe how William said it. Hence it wouldn't be a dialogue tag, and wouldn't be linked to the dialogue. So it should be:

    William hesitated. "I'm not sure."
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    said william is almost like saying 'the said this and that' which is an expression which means 'the said william as in the so and so'
    'william said' is the correct one because of the English Syntax.
    noun +verb+ pronouns...in this order.
    Example
    'I am not sure' william said , is the correct one because, ''I am not sure'' act the pronoun in a non active voice.
    and in the active voice :
    william said I am not sure
    so to deactivate the voice you have to do it the other round
    'I am not sure' william said

    so active voice is:

    Maria said she was going out

    VERSUS
    non active voice:

    'I was going out 'Maria said.

    I think anyway.
     
  7. FoxPaw
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    FoxPaw Senior Member

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    Oh, really? You learn something new every day. Thanks, Banzai! And sorry, Maniac, for misleading you with that second one. I'll edit my post now.
     
  8. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wrong.

    Either is acceptable.
     
  9. Eddie Zilker
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    Eddie Zilker New Member

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    When I asked William, he said that either is acceptable so long as the essential meaning of what William said remained intact. "I have no issues with either of the aforementioned dialogical indicators," said William, "so long as they do not interfere with the subtext of the conversation."

    "But what if I wrote this sentence?" replied myself.

    "No, no, that sounds clunky," Replied William. "Please, don't do that, again."

    "Very well," I said.

    "That's better, because it has more rhythm."

    "Rhythm?" I inquired.

    "Yes," said William. "And what you just did there: that's acceptable because it avoids redundant metering without being awkward."

    "I had no idea."

    "Of course you didn't!" William sat for a moment contemplatively staring out his office window and then turned. "Look!" he said, with a sudden jolt. "Even without being poetic, there are certain rhythmic meters which convey prose in a way that is rhythmically pleasant." I nodded, knowing that William was an expert in such matters. "When you're breaking up prose with dialogue, you're interrupting the meter of the written word and presumably imposing a spoken cadence onto it. The simple fact of the matter is that there are no hard and fast rules with which to write such phrases but a wise writer will almost always arrange his clauses to maintain some semblance of meter which avoids redundancy."

    I listened politely as William went on, "So when there are clauses of separate meters intersecting with one another, such as that which occurs when dialogue becomes embedded in prose, the author should see to it that the meter of the prose, dialogue has been embedded in, is maintained." I must have had a confused look on my face because William's expression grew frustrated. I had only known the man for a short while but there was something about his piercing gaze which startled me. Fortunately, a smile returned to his face as his shifting thoughts assembled themselves into something more eloquent than their sum. "Sometimes, there simply is no need for a dialogical clause. The author has worked at setting up the apparent shift in focus enough that it is clear who's speaking and who's listening. Some ideas may even be alluded to without having to torture them with painstaking enumeration. This is language, after all, and not computer code. There's no need to indicate that variable x said y then added z to arrive at q."
     
  10. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    Agreed. Also I favor going with "William said".

    Here's one opinion expressed in the link below that speaks to that.

    "When using tags, it’s unusual to have the verb before the subject. The general rule of thumb is to use this construction sparingly, as a rare change in pace or flow. In addition, many editors are asking this construction not appear at all in a manuscript."

    And here are two sites that talk about using speaker tags. I believe both do so mostly accurately, but it of course never hurts to crosscheck them with the most credible source you can find. I would also suggest just opening up some of the books you own, especially those by the better authors. See what they use. I just opened up a few and the newer ones especially, use the "William said" version.

    http://www.lousywriter.com/how_to_write_better_dialogue.php

    http://faithwriters.com/blog/2011/08/30/2887/
     
  11. Eddie Zilker
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    Eddie Zilker New Member

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    I'm clearly out of my depth, here. Nice post.
     
  12. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    Thanks.

    But not sure about depth or anything like that. Read the links and see what you can take from them. If you find better ones, feel free to share.
     
  13. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd make the point that it doesn't matter about how you tag your dialogue so long as it's simple and unobtrusive. Either is acceptable ('said William' being more common in the UK than the US, which seems to prefer the other), so long as we're not looking at tags which impact on the writing itself. A good tag disappears and the reader doesn't notice it, with the dialogue being good enough that the reader's mind almost skips reading it. A bad tag - or bad dialogue - highlights the tag and diverts from the dialogue (else makes it more noticeable).
     
  14. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    This is a good point.

    It's also why in the vast majority of instances authors use "said" rather than any alternative. Said melts away and goes unnoticed (asked does the same), whereas other tags stick out like sore thumbs. The example I always use is from the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where Rowling actually writes:

    "Snape?!" Slughorn ejaculated.

    At which point I (and I'm certain a lot of other readers did the same) stopped reading, and just though No, that was not a good writing decision.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    did you really mean that, banz?... or did you mix up 'latter' [= the second] and 'former' [=the first]?

    'cause it's the former that is archaic and the latter that's in common use nowadays...

    btw, that's definitely not correct... for the reasons you gave...
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with mammamaia.

    "William said" is the preferred form today. I actually had an editor point that out to me, because for a long time I wrote "said William." I was told that was the more out-dated form of the tag and the editor wanted it the other way around.

    I even went back to my self-pubilshed book and changed all the "said John" tags to "John said."
     
  17. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yes, that was a mix up, sorry. And well spotted.

    The latter is the most common one. I must have got turned around in my head somewhere.
     
  18. Jefferson27
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    - least you fixed it
     
  19. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's easier to see that the first way is an older form when you do this:

    "I am not sure," said he.

    "I am not sure," he said.

    I also had an editor point this out to me.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    banzai...
    a momentary brain glitch is certainly excusable, since you've had to fill the gap cog's leaving left and you were busy enough before that!

    thanks for all the work you do to keep the site going in the right direction, sweetieheart!

    love and hugs, maia
     

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