Speech sentences confusion - Page 4


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Thread: Speech sentences confusion

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post

    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
    I took a look at that one... I guess you COULD say he doesn't use "said" too often, but that's because he doesn't have a lot of dialogue, at least in the pages of the book available via Look Inside. When he DOES have dialogue, he uses "said" a lot, even at times when it would have been easy for him to avoid it, if that had been his goal.

    Like: "Pete, no, no," Dexter said, raising his hands and falling back in his chair...

    Could easily be rewritten as: "Pete, no, no!" Dexter raised his hands and fell back in his chair...

    But Grisham didn't bother with that rewrite, presumably because he doesn't have a problem with using "said". And there are plenty of other examples of this in the pages I read.

    I think a risk of using actions instead of "said" can be that it gets a bit silly, with characters seeming to be flailing around, drinking coffee and snorting and raising their eyebrows and otherwise having apparent seizures, just because the author is trying to avoid a simple dialogue tag. If the character's action is relevant and adds meaning to the scene, then I think the character's action should be included, and "said" can probably be dropped. But if there's no relevant action, I think "said" is a hell of a lot less intrusive than some of the alternatives.

  2. #32
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    I don't wish to derail, so tell me if I am, but I don't think I am. My question builds, I hope, on the thread question, and it is this: how do you generally deal with thoughts of characters? Do you say, for instance, "Madison sat and thought about it. What am I going to do? I can't go to the cops!" The last two sentences would then be, I believe, in italics to represent thoughts.
    Or do you tend to go with "Madison sat and thought about it. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't go to the cops." In which case, no italics.
    Or do you use a mixture, or something else entirely?

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
    I don't wish to derail, so tell me if I am, but I don't think I am. My question builds, I hope, on the thread question, and it is this: how do you generally deal with thoughts of characters? Do you say, for instance, "Madison sat and thought about it. What am I going to do? I can't go to the cops!" The last two sentences would then be, I believe, in italics to represent thoughts.
    Or do you tend to go with "Madison sat and thought about it. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't go to the cops." In which case, no italics.
    Or do you use a mixture, or something else entirely?
    I think it depends whether you're paraphrasing his thoughts or reporting them word for word. For myself, in my brain, it's pretty rare that I think in actual coherent words... my thoughts tend to be more impressionistic, abbreviated, etc. Assuming other people think the same way I do, I'd say it's pretty unlikely for someone to actually think "What am I going to do? I can't go to the cops". So I would use the second option, keeping it in third person and paraphrasing.

    If there are words that are directly thought, I think it would work to switch to first person and italicize. Like:

    Madison sat and thought about it. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't go to the cops. Damn it.​ He was screwed.

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