"Said" Before Or After The Name In Fantasy?

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by M. L. Brocke, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I don't know about simplifies, as that would suggest children's writing is simplified, but it just reminds of the narration from children's books.

    Adult: "You owe me money," John said.
    Children's: "I like red balloons best!" said John.
     
  2. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    I use a combo of both. Just my preference.

    I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it? All depends on your style I suppose.

    Checked George RR Martin and he's a combo user too.
     
  3. IasminDragon

    IasminDragon Member

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    It probably becomes more noticeable when you resort to third person pronouns. 'I'll have you hanged at assizes' said he. Now it's starting to sound old fashioned!
     
  4. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

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    I almost never use third person pronouns with dialogue tags. That implies the dialogue follows an action beat, in which case I would just omit the tag entirely.

    Rather than:
    John picked up the phone. "Hello," he said.
    You can just do:
    John picked up the phone. "Hello."

    Generally, it's obvious who's speaking.
     
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  5. IasminDragon

    IasminDragon Member

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    I see it used a fair bit. :)
     
  6. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Agree with you. Tags can be omitted entirely. It makes the writing more engaging.
     
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  7. IasminDragon

    IasminDragon Member

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    It would surely depend on context. I don't think you can do away with dialogue tags entirely - and I'm not sure by what measure reducing clarity guarantees a more engaging experience.

    Take this brief excerpt from 'An Encounter' by Joyce.

    See, we get to encounter the strange man's dialogue here - and in stead of having him drone on and on, Joyce manages to reveal more of what he is trying to convey in the preceding sentence.

    Another one illustrates its effect on clarity, from 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room'

    That last passage is written in such a way as to convey the rapidity of the conversation. In such cases, dialogue tags help the reader keep track of the conversation while giving the desired effect. It's almost silly at this point - we get 'said I, I said, said I' three times in a row, but I get the impression here that it punctuates the dialogue to make us imagine the narrator is taking breaths between his speech.

    Admittedly, Joyce was seminal in modernism within literature so these techniques might have been a bit radical for his day. Nonetheless I could go on and on with others works where dialogue tags are used and the matter of syntax could be discussed, but I think it illustrates the point here that it is not always obvious who is speaking and that dialogue tags don't necessarily disrupt the flow of dialogue - and can even have an interesting effect.

    One more for the road. :p

    Nice little hint at Corley's character, freed up by the use of third person pronoun in the dialogue tag.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  8. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    It all has to with SVO order. Subject-Verb-Object is the English default. When dialog comes in, everything gets turned around. The quote is the object because it's what is being said.

    "Yer a wizard, Harry," Hagrid said. (OSV order)
    "Yer a wizard, Harry," said Hagrid. (OVS order)​

    Since both choices are outside of the norm, there's no "correct" one. Brits seem more likely to use the second (more likely, not very likely). American English favors the first. But genre changes things too.

    Don't forget, you have these options too!

    Hagrid said, "Yer a wizard, Harry." (SVO order)
    Said Hagrid, "Yer a wizard, Harry." (VSO order)​

    And then there's a clear preference, because the first choice matches the SVO default.

    I haven't heard anyone mention this . . . but pronouns change things too. Even the most dyed in the wool "said-X" sort will avoid:

    "Yer a wizard, Harry," said he. (OVS order)​

    And because pronouns show up an awful lot, the "X-said" pattern gets followed even more. That's why no one uses "said-X" for everything.

    There's also the issue of getting the verb close to the subject. (If you want to break a sentence, one of the easiest ways to do it is to let the two be separated by long phrases.)

    "Yer a wizard, Harry," the chemist with the sunken eyes, neat goatee, and black pork pie cap pulled low over his brow said.
    "Yer a wizard, Harry," said the chemist with the sunken eyes, neat goatee, and black pork pie cap pulled low over his brow.
    So in that case, OVS "said-X" wins the day easily. It lets your phrases connect tighter.
     
  9. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Sorry, I didn't mean removed entirely from a book. I meant in certain paragraphs/dialogue.
     
  10. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    do it which ever way you want but for the love of god and tiny fluffy kittens pick ONE and be consistent.
     
  11. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Right," said Fred, "I'm too sexy for my shirt."

    "So sexy it hurts," acknowledged Wilma.
     
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  12. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    I approve of this example.
     
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  13. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Usually I write "said Bob," but if I swap it for a more descriptive word (pretty much any word other than "said") and I write "Bob muttered." I don't know why, it just feels right to me. Probably because descriptive words can usually stand alone. You can have someone laugh and then speak, or you can have them laugh as they speak, but it wouldn't be grammatically correct in the first instance to write, Laughed John. "No, of course not!" So if I were to have John say something while laughing, I would put his name first because that sounds better to me. This personal rule applies to the word "replied" even though John replied. "I don't think so," is not any more grammatically correct than Replied John. "I don't think so."
     

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