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  1. RitchieHugh

    RitchieHugh New Member

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    Dialogue?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by RitchieHugh, Jan 14, 2020.

    Hello guys, how are you doing?
    I'm not an english native speaker [or writer], so there might be some mistakes here. My question is universal though.
    In a dialogue, on a fiction book, can i write ther character name in front of every quote?
    For example, a conversation between Alison and James:

    Then James enters the room.
    James: Hello Alison!
    Alison: Hello James, what's up?
    (...)

    Is this even valid?
    Thank you!
     
  2. More

    More Member

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    "Hello Alison," said James .
    " Hello James, "she said .
     
  3. RitchieHugh

    RitchieHugh New Member

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    I understand, but when the conversation gets too long it might be hard not to sound repetitive, isnt it right? A long dialogue would obligate me to write "said James" and "said Alison" too many times, wouldn't it?
     
  4. More

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    The example you offered would be a bit tedious to read .Also , you have not used the correct punctuation for dialog , and is something you need to know . Said is of the simplest way to tag dialog . But I prefer not to use any tag if you can make it obvious who is speaking . So if there is only two pople , you only need to use the tag at the beginning .
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  5. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Member

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    I think the question you have to ask yourself is,
    "How many books have I read that do this?"
    If the answer is "none" or "nearly none" then there's probably a good reason why.
     
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  6. Madman

    Madman Senior Member

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    You don't need to use 'said' as a tag after every dialogue. You can use other things, if I recall correctly...

    Example:
    "Hello Alison," James greeted Alison with a big smile.
    "Hello James," Alison smiled back.

    EDIT: See jannert's correction further below.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  7. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    Absolutely do not do this. No proper writing does this. This is what you do in a script, not a book.

    If your conversation is long, break it up with narrative.
     
  8. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    "How many books have I read that do this?" asked Steve Rivers.
    "None," replied the OP.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, while your examples are good, the punctuation isn't quite there. You're using action 'beats' as dialogue tags, which are great devices. But you have to keep in mind the sentence structure.

    "Hello, Alison." James greeted Alison with a big smile. (That tag—James greeted Alison with a big smile—is a complete sentence on its own. So it's separated from James's speech by a period, not a comma.)

    "Hello, Alison," said James, greeting Alison with a big smile. (said James, greeting Alison with a big smile is not a complete sentence, so what James said would be separated by a comma, not a period.)

    and

    "Hello, James." Alison smiled back.

    "Hello, James," Alison said, smiling back.
     
  10. Madman

    Madman Senior Member

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    @jannert
    Thanks for clearing that up! I still have a lot to learn!
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's a very common mistake. :) But easy to clear up.
     
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  12. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    You can always invent your own dialogue tags.

    Here's a line from a (as yet unfinished) story of mine.

    "Greeting, o great and illustrious master," slimed the reception droid.
     
  13. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It used to be common to come up with any tag except 'said'. But in a lot of writing it looks forced. On the other hand, using 'said' in sentence after sentence can look tedious.

    Here's a nice discussion of the issue:

    Debunking Writing Myths: Always/Never Use “Said” Dialogue Tags

    But her example of 'how to' at the end of the article won't work in every situation. When there are three or more speakers you have to use a dialogue tag occasionally.

    Use the scene as much as possible to avoid tags and adverbs. Using said can be invisible to the reader and works well.
     
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  14. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    Like all things, it's important to know when to do it and when not. Used sparingly, inventing your own tag can be effective.
     
  15. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Excellent discussion.

    I think it's fine to stick to particular ways of tagging dialogue, for the sake of the 'sound' of the piece. But I'd always sacrifice sound for clarity. If I have to use lots of dialogue tags (said, action beats, etc) to clarify who is saying what, I'll do it.

    Even a conversation with only two people in it can become confusing if the writer decides not to 'clutter it up' with dialogue tags. If you take your eye off the piece for a second, or stop to think about what is being said, you can easily forget who spoke 'last.' Nothing worse for me than to encounter, say, 10 lines of dialogue with no tags. I easily lose track. I've been known to go through a book written this way and actually MARK who is speaking, so I can read smoothly. Which is a pain in the buttinsky.

    The rule of thumb is usually no more than three changes of speaker without a reminder tag of some sort. I think that's a good general rule to keep in mind—for the benefit of the reader who needs to keep track of what's going on.
     
  16. Richach

    Richach Senior Member

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    My editor suggests that 'said' quickly becomes invisible. I do however sneak them out if at all possible as it makes them completely invisible. I don't like the feeling I get when I read he said, she said etc. Think it is just a question of taste but ultimately its the reader that counts.
     
  17. More

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    I am interested in producing a product that some people will enjoy and pay for , so writing for the reader is what you do .


    https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/character-development/6491/8-essential-rules-for-punctuating-dialogue---article

    I struggle with the technicalities of English, but the correct punctuating of dialogue is easy .
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
  18. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    One of my favourite dialogue tags is "ejaculate". My characters don't ejaculate as often as they should, as it's not the done thing these days. Sherlock Holmes ejaculated 23 times in Conan Doyle's stories, Watson 11 times.

    From A Study in Scarlet - Watson to his soon-to-be fiancée:
    It was selfish, no doubt, disloyal, wrong, but I could realize nothing save that the golden barrier was gone from between us.
    “Thank God!” I ejaculated from my very heart.
    She looked at me with a quick, questioning smile.

    (for those who don't know, to ejaculate means to make a sudden and sharp exclamation - the use is somewhat archaic now due to the double meaning)

    :)
     

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