1. GoldenGirlSix

    GoldenGirlSix New Member

    Dec 16, 2019
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    How do I insert dialogue in a sentence to reference a past event?

    Discussion in 'Dialogue Development' started by GoldenGirlSix, Dec 16, 2019.

    Sorry if I weirdly worded that title/question, it's just a bit difficult to put my thoughts into words.
    Also, I apologize if I'm tagging this wrong or something, this is my first time using this website.

    In a story that I am writing for a school project, this is a sentence;

    Between fire breathing goblins who grabbed at his ankles, to water fairies who have him obnoxious riddles - "What's blue and pretty? Me, ahah!" - he was almost ready to quit.

    (The events described aren't actually written in the story. The sentence is used at the beginning of the Road of Trials part of the story, after describing the character leaving for the adventure. It's a jump in time. Not sure if knowing that is needed to answer the question, but I thought I might as well mention it.)

    I'm wondering about the quote in the sentence "What's blue and pretty? Me, ahah!" and if I put it into the sentence correctly, or if it's even grammatically possible to use dialogue that way. If it's not, how could I separate the two and still keep the original meaning?

  2. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor Contest Winner 2022

    Apr 18, 2017
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    Between fire breathing goblins who grabbed at his ankles, to water fairies who told him obnoxious riddles—"What's blue and pretty? Me, ahah!"—he was almost ready to quit.​

    Some other intransitive verb should go in for "have." You want something that parallels "who grabbed at." I just guessed at "told."

    What you're inserting is called a parenthesis. It's completely deletable without the sentence losing meaning because it lies outside of the sentence. You can either put it in parentheses or inside of parenthetical em dashes. Honestly, em dashes are probably safer. (Less strange on a novel page.) You don't have to italicize that part, but I would. It's almost like the em dashes pull it out of the sentence and the italics send it to another character.

    Use the big fat em dash, not the hyphen. You don't need spaces around it. Some publishers do space out the em dashes, but not many.

    I'd also weigh whether "between X to Y" is correct. It seems like it should be either "From X to Y" or "Between X and Y."
  3. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2017
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    Indianapolis, Indiana
    My understand of that particular question, and the way I've always used it, is that if you're trying to convey a sense of 'if it's not one thing, it's another', you use 'between X and Y'. If you're trying to encompass the totality of a concept, you'd use 'from X to Y'.

    In this example, I'd use 'between', because the narrator is providing two examples and only two examples of things that make him want to quit. It doesn't feel, from the provided sentence, that the narrator has an exhaustive list of reasons to be done with this job; it's just a few exasperating instances that caused him serious headache.

    If you wanted it to be 'from X to Y', you'd need to imply some kind of larger concept. It's too 2am for me to come up with an example, but the gist of the sentence you'd need to follow it with would be 'all of it was dumb, and all of it was a pain in my ass.' The sentence you gave us is much more 'these are two specific pain-in-the-ass things.'

    Hope that helped. :-D

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