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18

"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. "Each ...


9

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 ...


8

Consider writing the local character's story as a separate scene (and perhaps a separate chapter), with clear transitions between the two timeframes: "So, how did you end up here?" Hero said. "Make yourself comfortable, youngster," Local Character said. "This is going to take a while." # <scene break> It was 1953, and my mother had just ...


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 ...


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

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


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 ...


5

All caps can sometimes be acceptable if they're used very sparingly (think once or twice in a book), but yes, it tends to be a sign of bad writing. Extremes of emotion can usually be conveyed through action. He swept the pictures from the shelf, sending them smashing to the floor. "Who the hell do you think you are?" he shouted. "Answer me!" His ...


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 ...


4

It would entirely depend on their personalities. If the knight was charming and superficial, he would be in his absolute element in this situation. Spouting off lines such as, "You are as radiant as the sun above, with a smile that lights up this chamber like it were midsummer's day", which sounds good but doesn't really mean anything. Then later on when ...


4

Everything you have a problem with is stuff that isn't a problem, or that you needn't do anyway. Regardless of which POV you choose, the symptoms you are experiencing are common novice symptoms and are easily cured. So go cure them and choose either perspective. It really doesn't matter a whole lot. Asking and answering multiple questions in one post is ...


4

You don't capitalize the dialogue tag she said or she laughed if it's attached to your dialogue. You would only capitalize She laughed if it's a new thought. So: "Do you know where we are going?" she said. "We're going to Albuquerque," he responded. "Seraphina!" the dark Persian man cried. BUT "Do you know where we are going?" She ...


4

If you indent paragraphs, every paragraph gets indented, period. It doesn't matter if that paragraph is a single word of dialogue, a page-long rant, or four pages of stream-of-consciousness. So:     "Hello."     "Hi."     They were sitting on the bench, feet naked against the ground, ...


4

Short answer: you can use whichever you want, and there's no need to be consistent. Long answer: you could, in theory, choose between them every time based on which works better — maybe if you really, really want to save the reveal of who's speaking until the last word for maximum punch — but honestly, I wouldn't overthink it. They're semantically identical,...


3

As with any dialogue choices, you would use the word that the character would be most likely to use. Try to hear them in your mind, or chose an actor to portray them (in your imagination!) and hear how that actor says the words, or write a character diary until you get the character's voice figured out, or do whatever else you need to do until you ...


3

I'd say these are mostly non-standard (not wrong, necessarily, just not the way people usually use this punctuation) so you'll have to make up your own rules for the usage. Or, alternatively, you could make them standard. To my eye, these could be punctuated with the usual comma/period ending punctuation without losing meaning: ‘Here,’ she said, holding ...


3

I struggled with writing dialogue for a long time, it bothered me that I could never make it sound like real conversation. As I've previously written I don't like to solve problems by seeing how other's have resolved them i.e. by reading how other's approach dialogue My resolution was to realise that you don't need to make it sound like real conversation, ...


3

Most of your examples could be made grammatically "correct" by adding a word (e.g. "I told you [that] he doesn't work on Mondays", but would also make the speech sound much less natural. I would say that it's perfectly fine to splice commas in dialogue. (Who knows, maybe someday it will even be considered grammatically acceptable?) If I'm really worried ...


3

Both your second and fourth examples look natural to me. Including the upside-down question mark might be slightly preferable, but sometimes adding a little-used character can add to the expense and trouble of printing a book. That said, styles for punctuation vary across countries, across different publishers, and even between different editors. If you are ...


3

"It's about time we got going, don't you think?" "It's 'bout time we got goin', don'tcha think?" Both these guys sound the same to me. They both have my voice, they both have my accent, and I suspect that accent is a few thousand miles off where it's supposed to be. The problem is, one took much longer to scan than the other. When reading a page we do not ...


3

Grammar Side-Rant (Ignore at will) First off, none of the words you have in bold are gerunds. A gerund is a verb form used as a noun. Examples would be: Hunting is a sport. We love sailing. Answer: As far as overdoing it goes, your paragraph sounds fine to me. However, looking at one paragraph is not the same as looking at the whole page. ...


3

No, a character telling a long story is not by default an info dump. The key to making sure it's not just clunky exposition is to make sure it is not a case of 'as you know, Bob' by which I mean one character should not be telling another character something they already know. An example of this would be experienced police officers explaining procedures to ...


3

An infodump is when the author has to get a whole bunch of important information to the reader, but it's not integral to the plot at that moment. If Character 2 is ranting and finally getting something off his chest, it's not an infodump. It is the plot. It's the culmination of the plot. To keep it from being a wall of text, break it up with stage business ...


3

Synthesising the ideas above, you could consider leaving the framework of a strict dialogue for this kind of scene. Instead of merely fleshing out the dialogue with "stage action" as suggested by Lauren Ipsum, you could start the scene as a dialogue and lead the reader into the short story of Simon White by means of a transition phrase such as "He told him ...



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