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Thread: Speech sentences confusion

  1. #21
    Using the most basic examples for format alone, and acknowledging American style, your dialogue tags could work either ways but your periods and such need to go inside your quotes. Also I'm fairly certain it's standard to use commas following a greeting so your examples should read like...

    John said, "Hello, everyone."

    "Hello, everyone," John said.


    Now if you're using British style, which your punctuation lends to as far as commas and periods go, (I am very much American taught but) I believe it would read more like...

    John said, 'Hello, everyone'.

    'Hello, everyone', John said.


    But you're basically correct. Either format works, but dialogue followed by a tag is the most common. Also, everyone feels different about dialogue tags, but their main goal is to ensure the reader knows who is speaking so using an overabundance will slow your dialogue. As far as using "said" goes, I do not believe said is dead, but it should be used sparingly. You can use alternatives, just don't allow them to get so flowery or go so far out of your way to avoid using "said" when really it is the best and most simple word you could use. Another tip I learned is to find strong verbs when you can. It creates stronger sentences.

    Instead of... "Hi, John, nice to see you," replied Jane enthusiastically.

    Try... "Hi, John, nice to see you," chirped Jane.


    Finally, if you do use stronger verbs, please avoid using -ly adverbs following them. It comes across inexperienced and you don't need to.

    "Hi, John, nice to see you," chirped Jane enthusiastically.

    In this example, chirp means to say something in a cheerful and lively tone. We already know she must have some enthusiasm at the prospect of seeing John.

    I've been out of school for a bit now and I learned more about SGaP looking into proper forms outside of school than I did from my schooling truthfully. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I hope this helps.

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Hero View Post
    1. I didn't understand what you meant by attribution, brush strokes and summary.

    Can you give examples please.

    2. Giving characters a unique voice I suppose would be done at the beginning of book, once or twice only. Then the reader would have to remember the characters accent.
    E.g John spoke with a deep south American twang
    Attributions is where you say WHO said that; John said...

    Brush strokes are little details that speak to the nature of the character or he scene; As he brushed away a lock of red hair.

    Summary: That literary stuff that you do to close out the paragraph; Stepping away, he showed his dissatisfaction with the situation.


    Examples:

    1)
    "dialog" attribution+brush strokes, "more dialog."

    "Why do I wanna do that?" Straightening up his lanky frame, Dave was skeptical. "Sounds like a good way to get killed."

    Lanky frame is a brush stroke, Dave is the Attribution.


    2)
    "dialog", attribution+brush strokes, "more dialog." and summary

    "Why would I wanna do that?" His long face showed true curiosity. "That sounds like a good way to get m'self killed." Giving a laugh, he finally turned away to begin working on the...


    3)
    Action, "dialog." attribution, "dialog"

    Turning to stare at the woman, his glare was evident. "Why on Earth would I wanna do that? Sounds like a good way to get m'self killed." The lanky academic was nonplussed. "Or is that what you was hopin' fer?"


    "
    Giving characters a unique voice I suppose would be done at the beginning of book, once or twice only. Then the reader would have to remember the characters accent.
    E.g John spoke with a deep south American twang"


    No, nein, nunca, nyet nyet! Characters are continually illustrated throughout the book. Their unique dialog should be reoccurring.
    Ideally the reader should know who is talking BEFORE they read the attribution. This is done by giving them unique ways of speaking.
    Besides, real people all talk differently. Just look at how much different my speech patterns are than Lucky or Pip or Velo. There are words that I use that no one else uses.

    Also, that example: " John spoke with a deep south American twang" is a clear case of telling not showing.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Periander View Post
    To be honest, I respectfully disagree with you, Ralph.

    Ernest Hemingway rarely, if ever, uses any dialogue tags other than "said" because the attitude of the speaker is always clear through the dialogue itself. He is such a master at dialogue that he doesn't need to give their lines a dramatic boost with fancy tags. Sometimes, he will use body language as a way to help us understand the emotions of his characters, but the spare use of tags in general is perfectly consistent with his literary aesthetic. Read some of the first scenes in "The Sun Also Rises" to see good examples of this.

    Personally, I will admit to using colorful tags from time to time if I feel that they are needed. But I think that sometimes, great dialogue (which I certainly haven't learned to write yet) doesn't really need anything else to help it work and to work well.


    The technology of writing has changed substantially since Hemingway smoked a shotgun. You should really be looking at modern books...unless you have a time machine.
    I think your confusion comes from the internet debates on the subject. There are apparently people who think they should go through their text and replace said with other synonyms.
    That's an even worse way of doing it.

    See, when I say said is dead, I don't mean you should be swapping it out for a similar word. I am saying that you need to change your writing structure so your dialog filler is not just attributions.
    Dialog is the most valuable real estate in a story (because it allows your exquisite characters to interact, and that is where the real paydirt is).
    Good dialog is more than just talking.
    It is painting the scene, illustrating the characters, and progressing the plot.
    If you find yourself using said (or a similar replacement) a lot, then you may need to improve your paragraph development.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Stephen King (and a lot of other very qualified people) disagree with you.

    https://skysairyou.wordpress.com/201...dialogue-tags/

    You didn't actually read that article...did you?
    That is an article on the evils of trying to compensate for overuse of SAID by using adverb tags.

    What I am saying is that if your dialog is all "he said-she said" then your writing structure needs development.

  5. #25
    Here is a great piece of work by our own Velo.
    He uses the word SAID absolutely zero times.
    How? His dialog is well developed.

    https://www.writingforums.com/thread...ore-disturbing

    Said is a crutch.

  6. #26
    WF Veteran Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    I wouldn't necessarily agree that 'said' is dead, Ralph. Sure, 'said' can be overused, but a lot of times, it is the best way to let the dialogue shine when a tag is required. Sometimes writers overshadow their dialogue with too many superfluous tags. Salinger was great at using restrained tags, and I'd consider him to be one of the best dialogue writers of the 20th century. If you go back and read some of his short stories, he almost exclusively uses 'said'.

    That being said, I do agree with you that simply using attributions as tags is boring. Variety is the spice of life.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  7. #27
    I don't think you guys get what I am driving at: If you use said frequently then likely your basic paragraph structure needs development. I never suggested padding it with synonyms or tags: that's like spraying Fabreeze over a puddle of urine (as in; it isn't fooling anyone, they still smell the pee.)

    If your dialog keeps coming back to "he said" or "he replied" or "he responded..." then you are writing at a simplistic level.
    Yes, some great writers have used it...50 years ago.
    But writing is ever changing, and if you approach an agent with Hemingway's style, you will be rejected.
    People do not write that way anymore.

    Here is a good example. This is a link to the current NYT #1 best seller: A novel by Delia Owens.
    Look at her dialog. She alternates using said, and other forms of attribution.
    She is constantly mixing it up. Maybe 1/3rd of her dialog uses Said.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/07...pf_rd_i=549028


    And here is Grisham's latest (NYT #3)
    He only uses said once a page or so.
    https://www.amazon.com/Reckoning-Nov...s=books&sr=1-2

  8. #28

  9. #29
    WF Veteran Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Okay, so if that author uses 'said' 1/3 of the time, then how is 'said' dead?

    My favorite short story published this past year, "Cat Person," pretty much uses 'said' exclusively. It was widely regarded as one of the more powerful short stories over the past year and was published in The New Yorker, I believe.

    The point is that taking such a dogmatic approach to a word seems unrealistic and a bit overblown.
    Last edited by Squalid Glass; July 15th, 2019 at 05:06 AM.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    I don't think you guys get what I am driving at: If you use said frequently then likely your basic paragraph structure needs development. I never suggested padding it with synonyms or tags: that's like spraying Fabreeze over a puddle of urine (as in; it isn't fooling anyone, they still smell the pee.)

    If your dialog keeps coming back to "he said" or "he replied" or "he responded..." then you are writing at a simplistic level.
    Yes, some great writers have used it...50 years ago.
    But writing is ever changing, and if you approach an agent with Hemingway's style, you will be rejected.
    People do not write that way anymore.

    Here is a good example. This is a link to the current NYT #1 best seller: A novel by Delia Owens.
    Look at her dialog. She alternates using said, and other forms of attribution.
    She is constantly mixing it up. Maybe 1/3rd of her dialog uses Said.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/07...pf_rd_i=549028


    And here is Grisham's latest (NYT #3)
    He only uses said once a page or so.
    https://www.amazon.com/Reckoning-Nov...s=books&sr=1-2
    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    Okay, so if that author uses 'said' 1/3 of the time, then how is 'said' dead?

    My favorite short story published this past year, "Cat Person," pretty much uses 'said' exclusively. It was widely regarded as one of the more powerful short stories over the past year and was published in The New Yorker, I believe.

    The point is that taking such a dogmatic approach to a word seems unrealistic and a bit overblown.
    I think there is something to both sides of this argument and a lot of the reason there is an argument is over misunderstandings concerning the term 'frequently'.

    Look, guys, it's a bad idea to use 'said' (or 'gasped', 'grunted', 'yelled', etc for that matter) when it isn't necessary. Just like anything else. If you don't need it, don't do it.

    It's also, of course, a bad idea to assert that because 'said' is often times not necessary that means it is the hallmark of bad or old fashioned writing. This plainly isn't the case. Plenty of modern writers use 'said'. They just use it appropriately.

    I went back and looked at some of my work. It's funny, because I would generally take the Stephen King view I quoted earlier, which is that said = all good. But, to credit Ralph, when I look at my work that I have sold, it is true that the dialogue is pretty clean. There aren't many tags. There are some, and 'said' is used, but it's rare. Here's a fragment from a piece that is being published in an upcoming anthology by a fairly major horror publishing house...

    “Richard Lautner,” the old man replies, pleasantly. Now close, he can see a little more clearly. The man is dressed all in black, his head round, bald but for a scrape of what must be hair but resembles instead the dry burnt look of an old scab. His baggy eyes are unblinking in his face. An ugly face, it is, even for an old guy. Ugly, cavernous, ridged with wrinkles, his dark eyes slightly over-sized so that their inky roundness set in a receding forehead resembles the close-up of an insect. An insect with a very toothy smile. “I am very pleased to meet you.”
    “Uh, yeah, likewise. Now if you’ll excuse me--”
    “You’re shaking,” the man says, studying him with his strange eyes, "you feeling okay?”
    “I…”
    “Have another drink, Richard. A big one this time.”
    He feels the grip weaken and takes his hand away. Immediately he winces. There is a residual sliminess. One that is too cold to be sweat and too greasy to be water. He takes out the flask and drinks, this time barely tasting it.
    “Feel better now?” Culifer asks.
    “Uh-huh. Now listen okay- I don’t mean to be rude.” He pulls his parka closer, “My wife...she’s waiting for me in the chapel office.”
    “An appointment?”
    “Yeah...” he feels a shudder, “...with the Reverend.”
    “About little Robert, isn't it?”
    “Yeah. How did you know?”
    ^ Now this is still before the professional edit and proofing, however I am inclined to believe that none of this dialogue requires much tagging. It does not require it because it is extremely obvious throughout the entire exchange who is speaking.

    I take the view that ALL unnecessary words should be destroyed, which includes dialogue tags. So there is no 'said' (says actually, since it's present tense). There are occasional tags. But not many.

    Now, does this prove anything? No. But I can say that if I rewrite the same and start putting in 'says' tags all over the place...

    “Richard Lautner,” the old man replies, pleasantly. Now close, he can see a little more clearly. The man is dressed all in black, his head round, bald but for a scrape of what must be hair but resembles instead the dry burnt look of an old scab. His baggy eyes are unblinking in his face. An ugly face, it is, even for an old guy. Ugly, cavernous, ridged with wrinkles, his dark eyes slightly over-sized so that their inky roundness set in a receding forehead resembles the close-up of an insect. An insect with a very toothy smile. “I am very pleased to meet you.”
    “Uh, yeah, likewise," he says, "now if you’ll excuse me--”
    “You’re shaking,” the man says, studying him with his strange eyes, "you feeling okay?”
    “I…” Richard says.
    “Have another drink, Richard," the man says, "a big one this time.”
    He feels the grip weaken and takes his hand away. Immediately he winces. There is a residual sliminess. One that is too cold to be sweat and too greasy to be water. He takes out the flask and drinks, this time barely tasting it.
    “Feel better now?” Culifer asks.
    Richard replies: “Uh-huh. Now listen okay- I don’t mean to be rude.” He pulls his parka closer, “My wife...she’s waiting for me in the chapel office.”
    “An appointment?” Culfier responds.
    “Yeah...” Richard says, he feels a shudder, “...with the Reverend.”
    The man asks: “About little Robert, isn't it?”
    “Yeah," came the reply, "how did you know?”
    ...suddenly this dialogue becomes really convoluted and slow and the whole thing somehow less clean. Now I realize nobody is suggesting putting said/says in EVERY line but even if I only added it to half the above that would still be at best unneccessary padding and therefore a slower read.

    Bottom line: This is a judgement call type issue, a stylistic choice. If any given line can be spared a tag and still carry sense, then great - avoid it. But of course sometimes it can't, or sometimes it just looks better with the tag. There may be stylistic reasons for incorporating 'said' more often - Neil Gaiman uses a ton of 'he said' and he's not exactly an antiquated writer. It's probably not something that benefits from much discussion here.
    Last edited by luckyscars; July 15th, 2019 at 06:09 AM.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

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