Alternate quotes for 'non-spoken' conversations


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Thread: Alternate quotes for 'non-spoken' conversations

  1. #1

    Alternate quotes for 'non-spoken' conversations

    I have a character that can communicate with a computer AI non-vocally. I've seen something like this done with italics, but I'm not sure I like that. Would something like square brackets be tolerated by readers?

    "No way!" said Susan.
    Richard thought for a second about an alternate plan.
    [Hey smart guy, what should we do?] said Richard.
    [That's not an AI problem,] said Widget.

    It looks good in the full conversations, except for a few common quoting conventions like the comma in the last line.

  2. #2
    My first thought is Hey, that might just work.

    My second is Be careful of translating that into HTML on the internet as the square bracket might cause issues in some versions of mark-up language (it's been a long time and I can't recall details). < and > might be problematic too. Please research though as my memory is flaky on this.


  3. #3
    As a reader, I would most certainly tolerate it, but I have a higher-than-average toleration for experimental formatting, I think. I've written stories using no quotation marks, with all dialogue in italics, even one in the voice of an AI that was formatted a little like code. Some readers might find it weird but I think it's okay that it's a little weird, given this is an unusual form of communication.
    In my mouth, if there be sweetness,
    It has come from my Creator;
    If my hands are filled with beauty,
    All the beauty comes from God.
    ~ from The Kalevala (paraphrased)

    Whom have I in heaven but You?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.

    ~ Psalm 73:25

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.






  4. #4
    Honestly, sounds cool and experimental. Try it, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. That's kinda the rules of the game when it comes to avant-garde.
    Nail it to the Cross

  5. #5
    I like that. It works really well. Unless you're going to use square brackets elsewhere, which is VERY unlikely, I'd go with it.
    Just An Ordinary Bloke, Doing Ordinary Things, In An Extraordinary World.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by flyunder View Post
    I have a character that can communicate with a computer AI non-vocally. I've seen something like this done with italics, but I'm not sure I like that. Would something like square brackets be tolerated by readers?
    "No way!" said Susan.
    Richard thought for a second about an alternate plan.
    [Hey smart guy, what should we do?] said Richard.
    [That's not an AI problem,] said Widget.

    It looks good in the full conversations, except for a few common quoting conventions like the comma in the last line.
    Ok - my take. First, too many said's. Second, I think italics would work better than brackets. I take it that the widget character is already established.

    Susan frowned. "No way!"
    Richard considered an alternate plan. Hey Widget, what should we do?
    The response came immediately. That's not an AI problem.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by indianroads View Post
    Ok - my take. First, too many said's. Second, I think italics would work better than brackets. I take it that the widget character is already established.

    Susan frowned. "No way!"
    Richard considered an alternate plan. Hey Widget, what should we do?
    The response came immediately. That's not an AI problem.
    indianroads,

    Thanks for the feedback. The sample text is not out of a project. It was a sample to show the brackets in use. The "saids" were to show that there are three speakers, one an AI.

  8. #8
    Member ehbowen's Avatar
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    I suggest you might consider using European-style quotation marks for the AI conversation:

    "Hey, are you going to the theater with me tonight?" asked Susan.

    źDo I have any conflicts on my schedule?╗ queried Roger. When AIMEE replied, źNot until past midnight,╗ Roger answered Susan with a, "Sure, as long as we can make it a Cinderella date...I turn into a pumpkin when I'm up too late!"
    There are very few problems which cannot be solved with a suitable application of high explosives....

    Are your characters taking a train ride? Visit Hidden Content ...or ask me!

    --------Eric H. Bowen

  9. #9
    Thanks everyone!

    it looks like four votes for the square brackets, one for italics and one for European-style quotation marks.

    I think I will stay with the square brackets for now. I can easily deal with the markdown issue or switch to the European-style quotation marks with a simple search and replace. I'm enough of a programmer/scripter to convert to italics if I need to.

  10. #10
    I've seen conversation from a non-human done like this: ||words words words||. I thought it worked well, wasn't confusing once I got past the first couple of instances, and wasn't weird looking.

    The main thing you need to realize is that you never want to confuse the reader. Ever. That means the agent you send it to, and the publishing house that might take it. Though they might change it anyway, but at least make sure they know what's going on.

    Also, put said after the name. Susan said. Not said Susan. Action and dialog tags go after the dialog. And make sure you understand punctuation in relation to dialog. Well, punctuation in relation to everything.

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