1. jimbond68

    jimbond68 New Member

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    Writing dialogue tags from a past conversation

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by jimbond68, Feb 19, 2019.

    I am writing a story in the past tense and am adding a conversation that happened in the past. When writing the dialogue would I write the tags as, Jim had said because the conversation has already happened or just Jim said. Example:
    "Your father never liked living here," the man had said.
    or
    "Your father never liked living here," the man said.

    And if the proper way is the "had said" version will that continue an all tags within this dialogue?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    This one.

    It's not a "rule" but writers often choose which way to go based on the length of the exchange. If it's quite short - fewer than, maybe, 10 lines of dialogue, I would continue to use 'had.' If it's a long exchange then the 'had's start to get in the way and interrupt the flow, in my opinion, so once I'd established that the conversation was happening in the past I would drop the hads. I would then be careful to establish, very clearly, when we're back in the 'now' past tense.

    Basically, just make sure it's very clear to the reader what is happening 'now' and what happened before now.
     
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  3. jimbond68

    jimbond68 New Member

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    Thank you very much. That makes sense. The dialogue is about ten lines, and I was afraid that the "had" would become an obstruction to the flow. I will take your advice and use "had" until it seems too forced.
     

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