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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. ...


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

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, ...


7

Is using colons and/or semicolons in dialogue awkward? No. Using them is fine. To me at least, every one of the above quotes looks perfectly natural. I agree that trying to find another way to write them would be difficult, and in some cases, may even harm the flow of writing by using something unnatural. It all comes down to what works best for what you ...


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

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

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

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


5

I use colons and semi-colons in dialogue. I have editors at some houses who take them out (house style), usually to replace them with em-dashes. I don't think it really makes much difference so I don't fight to keep the original punctuation, but if I were self-publishing, I'd leave them in. I think the argument against them is based on the idea that people ...


5

Yes, that's exactly the way I'd indicate that you as the writer/transcriber are uncertain if the word you're indicating is correct. As long as you're making it clear that you're quoting something, as a reader I would be very clear on what that mark meant.


5

By line, I assume you mean paragraph. A paragraph is "a subdivision of a written composition that consists of one or more sentences, deals with one point or gives the words of one speaker, and begins on a new usually indented line." (Merriam-Webster dictionary) To clarify, a paragraph is to a sentence what a sentence is to a word. A collection of sentences ...


5

No it should not be an info dump. The story continues. The only thing that should change is you switch to the character’s voice instead of using your own. You might think of it as though your reader is going to put down your book, pick up a short story written by a character in your book and read that, and then pick up your book again. As a writer, you can ...


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

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

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

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 ...


4

I don't have any techniques to offer, but I can point you to some examples. Thirty-five years ago, I was reading Robert Silverberg's Lord Valentine's Castle. Partway into the story, someone teaches the main character how to juggle. I put the book down and started following the instructions. It worked. I don't think I ever picked up the book again. But now ...


4

Which form you use is entirely writer preference. Neither 'said James' nor 'James said' is wrong. They are both grammatically correct, along with various other similar dialogue tags. Which one you use is determined by how you write, and especially what sounds better in the context of what you are writing. For example, you may determine that 'James said' ...


4

I wouldn't use all of them, but I'd definitely use some, and mostly for the reasons you pointed out. Dialogue doesn't have to be grammatically correct; really, it probably shouldn't be grammatically correct, most of the time (since most of the time people don't speak in grammatically correct ways). So in dialogue, instead of using punctuation to follow ...


4

I think the problem is, too much of the latter style will be tiring on a reader's eye and "ear" (they "hear" the characters speaking as they read). It's sometime laborious too because they have to figure out how to pronounce weird things characters say. Gone with the Wind is a drastic example of this, because Margaret Mitchell did just that when writing the ...


3

I recently had this problem, and I accidentally found a way around it. Have one character use the layman's version of the word, or perhaps an incorrect word, and then have another character correct them. My example: "In a town that small -" “Municipality.” interrupted Andrew. “Municipality that small, it would be impossible to..." For 'alpha test' you ...


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

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

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

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

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, ...


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 ...



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