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  1. StoryForest

    StoryForest Member

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    When did--how did--?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by StoryForest, Jul 17, 2019.

    How do I write a character saying "when did--" and "how did--" in a sentence?

    Scenario: Paul took John's wallet without John knowing so when Paul pulls out John's credit card, John's reaction is:

    "When did—,” John searched for his wallet in his pocket, “how did—”

    Is this the correct way to use "--"? And do I need to add question marks at the end of each like this:

    "When did—?” John searched for his wallet in his pocket, “how did—?”

    Or should I only add the question mark at the end of the sentence like this:

    "When did—,” John searched for his wallet in his pocket, “how did—?”
     
  2. J. J. Wilding

    J. J. Wilding Member

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    I don't know if it's correct, but from the authors I follow and my own writing, I would re-write it and do it like this:

    "When did..." John began, as he searched inside his pocket, for the wallet he could feel wasn't there, "... how did..."

    A dash would suggest he was interrupted, and a question mark suggests he finished what he was saying. Using the three periods suggests the character is confused by something, and in that confusion doesn't finish what he's saying. I know a lot of authors use the dash but, to me, language is and should be maliable, including grammar. Do what feels natural to you, since my own example is completely different. Happy writing friend!
     
  3. sleepindawg

    sleepindawg Member

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    I would have tried something like:

    'As John searched his pockets; "When and how did you do that!?" he exclaimed.'

    I could be way off base with all this, and with me being so new at this whole thing I almost decided not to post this suggestion.
     
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  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Works for me :)
     
  5. StoryForest

    StoryForest Member

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    Thanks Everyone! All points taken. :)

    If I want to make it feel like it's happening very quickly, would it change anything?

    Let me put some before and after lines to help illustrate:

    “Stop it. If anyone's paying, it should be Paul--it's his turn.” (John talking to his classmates whose fighting over who should pay for pizza.)

    Paul turned around. “Don’t worry. I have your credit card.” He held it up with a smile before handing it to the cashier.

    “When did—” John searched for his wallet in his pocket, “how did—”

    “I’m buying a whole pie. Would you like a slice?”
     
  6. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    "When did—?” John searched for his wallet in his pocket. “How did—?”
     
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  7. StoryForest

    StoryForest Member

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    Ah...once again, you make it so simple! (clapping) Thank You!
     
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