1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Razzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    How to convey whispering

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by J.T. Woody, Oct 28, 2021.

    I dont know if this is the right place to ask this.
    I have a character who is listening to the whispers around her, which leads her into the first introduction of my second MC.
    Right now, I just have them in italics with quotations and no identifiers (my MC is looking down at the ground as she's listening, so she doesnt see who is saying what). adding "a man said with distaste" and "a woman quipped excitedly" seems a bit too clunky when attached to four strings of whispers..... "a man said..." "a woman said" and back and forth, back and forth.

    any suggestions?
     
  2. evild4ve

    evild4ve Member

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    I use square brackets and Italics for whispers or sound-effects and drop the [hey? I thought I...] overheard parts into other narration or dialogue.

    I have partial hearing though, so anything whispered seems like that to me: sort of fragmented and I can't 'tune in' to it.
     
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  3. SapereAude

    SapereAude Senior Member

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    No doubt because I read a lot of books that use italics to convey telepathic communication, I would not choose to use italics to suggest whispering. The problem is that I don't know what to suggest in lieu of that, and I can't think of any books I might have in which I can remember any whispering, so I can't look up how other authors may have handled it.
     
  4. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    if it is a general susurration of whispers, does it matter who says what?

    Hammer overheard half murmured voices.
    'He's such a loser...'
    'No style whatsoever...'
    'And he smells!'
    He hung his head in shame and wandered dejectedly towards the nearest bar.
     
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  5. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Razzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    thats how i have it now... but visually, it looks off to me, so I was a bit confused :pity:
     
  6. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    Wot - you're saying I smell...??? (c:

    See what others think, but, to me, the non-attributed speech conveys the general murmuring nicely
     
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  7. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    Don’t know what to tell you on this one. You might try playing up showing the character straining to hear the whispers, and trying to make sense of the jumble- assuming it’s multiple whispers at the same time.
     
  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Maybe do the whispering in smaller text, or in a different font (and smaller). Or in light grey.

    Of course if you're making print versions I don't know if you can use a different ink color, possibly not.
     
  9. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I think this is the best way to it. Give your readers the credit for knowing when a person is whispering.

    By the way, Hammer, have you tried taking a shower?
     
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  10. Travalgar

    Travalgar Member

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    If your character really overheard the whispers, chances are that they will arrive at the murmurings mid-sentence. Ellipses flanking sentences is the way to go (or only at the front, if they happen to hear the end of it).

    Hammer sat at the bar. A new wave of whispers could be heard.
    "...actually quite handsome..."
    "...and he's got a nice-looking turtleneck..."
    "...would bang him."
    He couldn't help but smile a little.​
     
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  11. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    like water off a duck's back...

    :friend:

    but, yes, I think the surrounded by ellipses really works
     
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  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Flattery will get you everywhere it seems. :p
     
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  13. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    I am that shallow.
     
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  14. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Aren't we all?
     
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  15. jpoelma13

    jpoelma13 Member

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    I convey whispering by using dialog tags like "he whispered."
     
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  16. Kehlida

    Kehlida Member

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    Currently Reading::
    The Shining / Carrie by Stephen King
    Typically, I use dialogue tags such as, "she whispered" or something more like....
    John held his pointer digit up to his lips and said in a hushed tone, "..."

    Or since your MC does not know who is saying what you could try...
    (I/name) strained to overhear the conversation transpiring at the next table, catching only pieces.
    "...or at least that's what Troy told me, it all happened at Lover's Ridge last Saturday."
     
  17. Oscar1

    Oscar1 Member

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    I would introduce the whispers with a tag at first while already using italics to condition the reader that "whispers are in italics from now, doh?" and then just continue with italics. Once more later or so I would let the character still hear "whispers" just to make sure the reader is totally on the board and then just keep italics and that's it. It should make perfect sense to me as a reader.
    Another trick would be them saying something unique. Remember "my precious" from hobbit?
     

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