Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Agatha Christie, Feb 22, 2012.
I would say try to avoid this style of writing in a novel, as it is more like a theatre script or screenplay and may be jarring to the reader if one chapter in your novel suddenly assumes a completely different style. The only time I would think this could be effective is if you were quoting a transcript of an interview, i.e. you frame it with conventional narrative and explain that it's someone reading a transcript, perhaps in court. But even then I wouldn't insert too much of it, or otherwise break it up with paragrpahs of narrative to explain what the characters are doing in the actual framing scene.
This is just my opinion on how I would do it, or my reaction if I saw it in a novel. Hope this helps.
i have to agree... besides, the actions/expressions of the characters would be key to the interrogation scenes and the plot as well, and that style won't provide any of that to the readers...
as noted above, the only time something like that would make any sense is if you're inserting the written transcript of an interrogation/interview as a block indent for some reason... and, as also noted, a little of that would go a long way...
Well, you could write it out for yourself that way first, if you wanted to, but then later when editing you could take out the script feeling of it, and put in said, and the visual beats. I've done scenes where I have many players out like that before, just to save myself time in the first pass through, then go back and add things later. But I can't imagine if that isn't a screenplay, that that format would work so well in a book.
I've seen James Michener do that in his novel "Space", but he wasn't consistent with it. So I kind of thought he was being a jackass for doing it. He could get away with it, though, because he was already a bestselling writer and nobody could tell him what he could and couldn't do. I certainly don't recommend it. I've been tempted a few times to do it myself, but then I give myself a good slap and come to my senses.
I've been looking recently, into the variety of styles used and I'd have to say - there are some unique ones out there. I see no problem with it so long as your consistent. Yes - it is not 'the usual' style but once again, like so many things, if you can sell the idea and sell the story to the reader, I say go for it. If you ultimately submit it to an agent and they advise re-writing the style - well..at least you gave it a shot.
I don't recall seeing it for an entire chapter, and I wouldn't recommend it. William Landay, is his new novel, "Defending Jacob", has short segments throughout as if from grand jury testimony, and I think it works quite well. In "Space", I believe Michener used it to show clips of congressional testimony, which is why it wouldn't have been used throughout the book.
Someone already pointed out that you could do it that way and then change it back in editing to something more traditional. That's what I would do. Do it that way, get a few people to review it and they'll probably have an opinion one way or the other regarding that style. I think if done the right way you could pull it off but it might be one of those hit and miss things.
This does not sound good at all. Especially when you compare it to the current way you are writing your novel.
He was drinking tea with his inspector of wives?
That's another thing Agatha needs to watch out for. Her sample of writing shows multiple instances where there is a confusing lack of punctuation.
As has been alluded to, if your book is experimental, playful, unorthodox then why not? (If you think it adds value). I've seen it in a few places.
If your book is a conventional affair, then think a lot harder about the appropriateness of this sort of thing.
Having read tons of police transcripts, this reads as one of those. You can, of course, experiment with style if you wish, but my rule of thumb is - I am a beginner in this, no need to invent new techniques before I master the common ones.
If I saw this in a book, first I'd think it is quoting a transcript and if not, I'd most likely be annoyed because it would pull me out of the story (it adds more distance and doesn't really allow for descriptions and internalisations).
But, there are many different ways of doing things and if this feels right for you, go for it. Anything that's written well will work
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