1. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    North Carolina

    Writing Proper Dialogue

    Discussion in 'Dialogue Development' started by Antaus, Apr 8, 2018.

    This is something I've wondered about in more than one fashion. I've been writing for some time, but I've never gone to college or taken any professional writing classes, so all of my skills in this area are self taught. Never the less I do plan to pursue this as a career (author) through professional education, so I'm always seeking to improve my craft.

    1. Proper presentation of dialogue

    I'm not entirely sure if a type of presentation I've been using is considered proper or not. I know people tend to use a wide variety of methods for this when they write, but I also know there are some standards and rules in this regard that most readers look for. In this case it's a person speaking, performing an action, and speaking again. Like so:

    "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about," Matt said. Turning to face Nadia he waved a hand. "I'm not getting involved in that either."

    Some other questions regarding this dialogue presentation, is this stand alone in that you start a new paragraph afterward, or is it okay to keep writing?

    2. Telepathic Communication

    In this instance I've not really run into many standards in this regard. However I do write a fair amount of science fiction involving aliens, so telepathy happens. This is the usual format I use for telepathic communication between characters.

    "Hey there Jeremy, how's your day been?" Sally said, walking up to the table.
    'Same ol' same ol' really, thankfully,' Jeremy thought.

    I differentiate telepathy from normal speech both through italics, and the use of single quotes rather than double. Also I know some might point out this could confuse readers when it comes to internal dialogue. The thing is I don't really use direct mental speech in that fashion. For example:

    David looked out the window thinking it was rather odd to see a full grown man playing hopscotch on the sidewalk.

    Instead of

    'A grown man playing hopscotch on the sidewalk is pretty dang weird,' David thought.
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    10,551
    Likes Received:
    17,830
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    This is fine, but you really don't need the dialogue tag. The beat alone will suffice: "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about." Turning to face Nadia, he waved a hand. "I'm not getting involved in that either."

    I'd probably rewrite it to read more like, "He faced Nadia and waved a hand" or "He waved his hand at Nadia" but that's a stylistic thing.

    For actual telepathic communication? Not sure. Maybe I'd do it like that? It's never come up for me, but it is technically "dialogue," I guess, so I might be tempted to use the quotes. So long as it's clear that something is being communicated and it's not verbal, you should be fine.

    And, yes, you normally start a new paragraph after the dialogue lines are spoken, whether it's a new speaker or narration that follows, though in the latter case, you can make a stylistic exception, but I wouldn't overdo it.

    With a thought quote you'll get plenty of opinions on the utility of italics. Some use it, some don't, but both are fine, though in this example, you're using three things (quotes, italics, filter) to indicate thought where one would suffice. You don't need the quotation marks or a filter tag (David thought) to indicate a thought. The line alone is enough, especially if it is italicized. The reader will know it's a thought even if it isn't italicized, though it may occasionally be necessary to include the "David thought" filter if the line is stuck in a paragraph of narration that might indicate something other than interior monologue is going on.
     
    Antaus likes this.
  3. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    North Carolina
    What about remove filters altogether? For instance in this story I'm writing there's a moderate amount of communication between a speaker and a telepath, but they're the only ones in the scene. The way I'm writing it, it's fairly obvious who's who. So I was thinking, remove the 'saids' completely? For a while now I've been considering only using them when dealing with more than two people, and only when it's needed to specify a particular person.
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    10,551
    Likes Received:
    17,830
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Sure, you can ditch filters entirely unless a clarity issue arises. And it might occasionally. Same deal with dialogue tags, though there will be times when you want to break things up a bit, but less is almost always better in my opinion.
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,827
    Likes Received:
    20,808
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    I've seen telepathic communication presented in a myriad different ways. If you're going to self-publish, then it's up to you. If you plan on going a traditional route, the publication house may have a way they prefer to present such things. As for ditching tags altogether for telepathic communication, my only advice is consistency. My personal feeling on this is that were I to have such a dynamic in my story, I would want a method of presentation that works and is clear in all occasions, be it an A-B conversation, an A-B-C conversation, A-B-C-D, etc.
     
    Homer Potvin likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice