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17

"You really don't have to place the character's name first," Larry said. John scratched his head. "You mean the reader can probably understand who is saying what without knocking them over the head with it?" "Sure they can. I mean the writer isn't even telling you who is speaking now and you know who it is." "Right," John said. ...


10

Linguists have found that semicolons, colons, and even commas, are on the wane in everyday usage, and that many speakers no longer understand the use of a semicolon. Non-writers – and you will see this in emails, forum posts, and other written messages – often do not use punctuation at all, but rather let all "sentences" flow into each other, only putting ...


10

"The point of a Horcrux is, as Professor Slughorn explained, to keep part of the self hidden and safe, not to fling it into somebody else's path and run the risk that they might destroy it — as indeed happened: That particular fragment of soul is no more; you saw to that." "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", J. K. Rowling "Lord Voldemort liked ...


9

I'm a father of four children. Two of my daughters are this age. My son is just out of that range (15) and my straggler, my youngest daughter is under it (7). Kids this age aren't just less-educated adults. They're different. Smart kids this age may have vocabularies that outstrips some adults' - but their concerns are different. They want to know how ...


9

Generally accepted structures, which are used for clarity: Each time the speaker changes, you start a new paragraph. The speaker may start and stop, and you can have narration and action tags, but as long as that person continues, it can be the same paragraph. You may start a new paragraph with the same speaker if it's clear that the person is continuing ...


8

Add a little stage direction. "We read the letter." She had the grace to look a little shamefaced. "Apologies. Standard procedure." He nodded, even if his heart hurt a little to think the cops had read Tom's note. "Nothing inside suggests you're to blame. In fact, Tom didn't leave a reason."


8

No. All that is required is that the reader know who is speaking. The conventions of dialogue do a good job of that. Bob continued, "blah blah blah." "But wait", Sue asked, "what about blah blah blah?" "Blah!" "Blah?" He growled, "no, blah!" And so on. Each change of speaker gets a new paragraph. If there are only two, you can ...


7

First, show the character - the introduction should present them in detail, following the inevitably boring blather. Once the reader knows the character and their vice, you can start skimming, letting the narrator replace the actual blather ("after ten minutes of introduction and catching up on recent gossip..."). Keep reminding the reader, exposing them ...


7

As any deaf person will tell you, sign language is speech. How else are you going to tell your story if you don't report the communication that does take place? Bearkiller signed: "Walk quiet. There is a mammut ahead." Darkwalker nodded. "I'll circle to the left," he gestured. And don't argue about this again, his face said. Bearkiller frowned, ...


6

Have you spent time with children? If not, and I know it's not the easiest thing to do if you don't have kids of your own, so I'd suggest watching youtube videos of kids speaking.


6

Give the characters something unique: It doesn't have to be something mind-blowing or some kind of superpower. It could be something as simple as a toe fetish or not being able to remember dates. Give them an unexpected behavior: The wife of one of them left him and he reacted by ... cleaning the house from morning to night?! What? Give them an ...


6

The dialogue should above all be natural and matching the characters. That means there is no list of "wrong words" in general. Only "per character" - meaning you won't have a junkie punk speaking in elaborate formal language, nor, conversely, a scientist using street slang. The language used should be such, as given character would use normally in given ...


6

Try to give each character their own paragraphs. Alice sits on the bench, silent. Eventually, I speak. "What are we going to do?" After a long pause, she responds. "I don't think we can do anything." Note, I chose the period after 'responds'. 'Responds' isn't interchangeble with 'says'. For example, all these are valid... she says, "I don't ...


5

1) Lengthen it. You're not going to have rat-a-tat-tat patter graveside. 2) Take each phrase you feel is clichéd, determine the meaning, and rewrite it in different words. "All we want is for our children to grow healthy and happy" becomes "That's my biggest responsibility and my biggest hope — that my children are healthy and happy, and we ...


5

Side note: This problem isn't limited to computer jargon. There are many stories where the characters discuss things that all the characters would know or understand but a reader would not necessarily, like science, historical events, or things about their friends. For example, yes, if a character says, "We should use an Ajax call to the cloud server here ...


5

Depending on whether the character actually stutters or just rewords mid-thought, you might write: "Lo— I mean, Warden," he amended. "Lor— er, Warden," he amended. "Lo— Warden," he amended. In each case, the M-dash indicates an audible but very short pause, maybe accompanied by a quick head shake or wince or some other tiny ...


5

Pick option three: When writing, imagine you are actually saying this. If you wouldn't say it, don't write it.


4

The difference is that the first sentence doesn't have a tag. It's a line of dialogue followed by a complete sentence. The second sentence is dialogue followed by a dialogue tag. Your first set of examples is punctuated correctly — when you use a tag, the dialogue ends in a comma, and the tag starts with a lowercase letter. This also applies to ...


4

Speech is simply communication. Your characters communicate and all you need to do as a writer is make clear what is being communicated. I once read a fantastic children's story to some children. Teddy never actually says anything but communicates on every page. "We should get biscuits to make us brave" said Joe. Teddy indicated that he agreed. ...


4

If the technical terms are important for the rest of the plot, you might be able to explain them in the narration as the acts unfold. (A said to B, "I'm hacking the mainframe." A entered a command into her laptop, and the specialized software disabled the security system and allowed her to access the protected database. etc.) If the book is fantasy rather ...


4

What is churning like sand in my inner ear is the "wanted comma asked" in all three examples. These are all fine: "Where have you been?" he asked. "Where have you been?" John asked. "Where have you been?" asked John. This is better: "Why is it you always show up when you are not wanted?" Areon stared at me intently. The pause caused by ...


3

I disagree that a colon does not simulate normal speech. A classic example would be when I enumerate something to my dialog partner: "Hey Joe, we offer the following colours: Gray Blue Yellow." There, maybe even with semicola in a single line: "Hey Joe, we offer the following colours: Light Gray, Dark Gray and Eternal Gray; ...


3

I believe there is no "recipe" with which to cook up three-dimensional characters. However, since "good" characters - realistic, believable, full of faults, contradictions, anxieties and passions - are what I value above all in a story and what I put most effort in, here is how I develop my characters: Start with an idea. What kind of story do you want to ...


3

Plot... Story... blah blah blah. You're talking about a journey. You're talking about a quest. You're talking about a goal, a conflict, and a resolution. What I don't like is the use of the term "filler content". You can't go into a story thinking like that. Everything you write has to be important, every sentence should define a character or the world, or ...


3

It sounds like you don't really have a story yet, but a world. But a story is the journey of a character who wants something. Try one of these: Start with a character who lives in your world. What do they want? How they get it is your story. (If they have everything they want, you don't have a story; take something away from them). OR Start with a big ...


3

Remember the law of conservation of detail: When a detail isn't important, don't waste time describing it. When literal speech does not contain any information which is relevant for the plot, get rid of it. You can instead describe the conversation in an abstract summary to convey that the conversation did happen, but the content wasn't relevant. Switch ...


3

Honestly, I have no problem with writing single letters or numbers in dialogue, particularly if they are acronyms. All the following look fine to me: "The variable x is greater than the variable y." "I liked the TM1 better." "I drive a Mazda 2." "But there is no MI-6!" "Captain, the Klingons are at 132 mark 47." "Captain's log, Stardate 8130.3." I have ...


3

The answer is easy when the pronunciation of a single letter or acronym is known to your readers. For example, we all had maths in school, we know what what a "variable x" means and how to pronounce it. In a case like this you can use the conventions familiar to all of us and write the variable name as it is written in all the school books of the western ...


3

In my experience (in real life), some of the most bitter arguments are between people who whose positions are, objectively speaking, quite close. In this case, you've already outlined a key difference between these characters --whether cooperation with the military is acceptable. I can't foresee any trouble in drawing these two into a huge fight --just make ...


3

In real life, a person will always focus on one speaker at a time. This person may get distracted and switch his attention to another speaker while the first is still talking, but he is aware of this change of focus and it is marked for him by the sound of the voice, and maybe the face of the speaker, so it is never as confusing as unmarked written dialogue, ...



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