What the proper way to handle dialog? - Page 2


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Thread: What the proper way to handle dialog?

  1. #11
    Don't use open and close quotation marks for thoughts. The reader will think of it as dialogue. Many writers simply treat thoughts as narration, being careful to make sure the reader understands it as thought,

    Garrity walked point. He could feel Conrad and the rest moving quietly behind him, just as he could feel the insurgents out there ahead of him hiding in the broken buildings and behind the burned out cars. As he approached the hulk of an old Toyota pick-up which had been tossed on its side by a mortar shell, a sudden wind threw a fistful of sand and grit into his face, blinding him. Fuckin' dust! he thought. Nothin' in this hell-hole but fuckin' sun and dust.

    Many others, myself included, prefer to use italics for thoughts. It's simply a matter of preference.

    As far as dialogue goes, all the above advice is good, but I'd add one thing. Be very careful with your dialogue tags. You shouldn't need to have a descriptor in very many of your tags. Things like 'he barked', 'he snapped', 'he hissed' aren't needed. If you've done your job setting up the situation you shouldn't need to tell the reader how the line is delivered. And, frankly, they come across as amateurish.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  2. #12
    Some of this is dependent on POV - both in terms of 1st/2nd/3rd and in terms of narrative distance and verb tense.

    If I were writing in close third present tense, I wouldn't bother setting the thoughts off from the rest of the narrative at all.

    The old guy smells a bit funky, like onions and--mint? Together? Maybe. I'll eat his breakfast because he invited me. But I'm not going to strike up a friendship with this guy. I want to be left alone. I definitely don't want to be standing on the landing of a dingy stairway trying to figure out what foods some old geezer smells like.

    Same would go for close third, really, and I'm not sure verb tense matters.

    The old guy smelled a bit funky, like onions and--mint? Together? Maybe. Jimmy would eat his breakfast because he'd been invited, but he wasn't going to strike up a friendship with the guy. No, Jimmy wanted to be left alone. He definitely didn't want to be standing on the landing of a dingy stairway trying to figure out what foods some old geezer smelled like.

    But if you have a more distant POV, you might want to set the thoughts off more clearly.

    There was an odour coming from the old man, something like a combination of onions and mint. It wasn't appealing, but Jimmy tried to ignore it. He summoned his resolve.

    What a strange man. I’ll eat his breakfast, because he invited me. But I’m not going to strike up a friendship with this guy. I want to be left alone.

    But I'd be really careful about putting anything but the most significant words in "thoughts" like that. Most thoughts are probably best paraphrased and included in the narrative, in my opinion.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    As far as dialogue goes, all the above advice is good, but I'd add one thing. Be very careful with your dialogue tags. You shouldn't need to have a descriptor in very many of your tags. Things like 'he barked', 'he snapped', 'he hissed' aren't needed. If you've done your job setting up the situation you shouldn't need to tell the reader how the line is delivered. And, frankly, they come across as amateurish.
    I just want to reiterate what Terry D is saying here.

    These are called "said bookisms" and your novel will probably be stronger if you avoid relying on them.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Undutchable121 View Post
    I have a question with regards to bdcharles' post: I always stay away from using italics in describing thoughts as I find long sentences in italics to be ugly and hard to read - I also feel that using italics for thoughts takes too much takes away from one of my other favourite use of the font which is to emphasize particular words or phrases for added impact (either in dialogue or outside of it). "This was madness!" he sneered. Whats your take on it?

    Also, I feel tagging dialogue to thoughts (as you first example) with quotation marks is something I wouldn't do, because I find it confusing for the reader as he/she needs to distinguish those internal thoughts from real dialogue. Also, when without tags, it becomes easier to align the inner thoughts to your own writing style; you want your character to sound crazy, I feel that's easier to do without the constraints of dialogue which makes it more realistic.

    Anyway, I know there are many ways and none of the above is right or wrong, but I wonder how everyone else goes about this? How do you do inner dialogue and/or monologues? Dialogue tags or without?

    Cheers
    I'm in the UK and was taught the following about punctuating thoughts (as recently as three years ago):
    Thoughts may be shown either as italics OR within single quotation marks like blah blah OR 'blah blah'

    If I'm writing by hand I tend to use single quotes (because showing italics in handwriting is a bit fiddly - especially with the way I scrawl). If I'm using a word processor or computer, I have tended to use italics. Recently, I have started using single quotes even on a computer, because if I want to stress a word within a thought, I would possibly need to embolden it - and that feels unwieldy to me.


  5. #15
    Replied on a similar post but this is useful as I’m often unsure how to do this.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Job View Post
    I just want to reiterate what Terry D is saying here.

    These are called "said bookisms" and your novel will probably be stronger if you avoid relying on them.
    I stumbled across this the other day.

    Dialogue Tags / Said Bookism -Is it True? MackIsle :
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=...&v=3ewuplwvPr4

  7. #17
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Hmm. What I want to know is, if Sam is barking, then he's a dog, and dogs can't speak, can they? Well, cartoon ones like Scooby-Doo or Brian from Family Guy, but that's another story...

    Point: I don't like this ending a block of dialogue and continuing onto the next paragraph with the same speaker. It never looks right to me, no quotes then quotes. So what I do is add a descriptive bit of narrative to break it up. So instead of:

    "(after a long speech, which I'm too lazy to write out here) and I am absolutely exhausted after that run! I am going to have to take a break here.
    "If I run any more my heart is going to burst etc"

    I'd put between the two
    Kerry sat down and wiped her hand across her forehead, squinting at the morning sun. Despite her complaints, she was proud of the training she had put in this morning. This would certainly stand her in good stead for the marathon next month.
    then on to the second bit of dialogue from the same character.
    But hey, that's just me.

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