Author Topic: Guidance on Speech Marks  (Read 1638 times)

Offline Smurf

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Guidance on Speech Marks
« on: March 27, 2009, 03:49:31 PM »
Hi -

I guess I'm asking about a hoary old chestnut, but I can't find any previous threads, so I'll go ahead and ask - please feel free to point me at existing threads.

I understand the basics of using speech marks such as:

"Good morning, Dave," said Hal.

However, can anyone advise me of rules for odd situations such as:

“So,” Sam said, “by extrapolation, if belief is such a core part of being human, it wouldn’t be such a stretch to – amplify?” – Fatima smiled encouragingly while Sam carried on – “that to create beings that other could see?”

i.e.:

“So,” Sam said, “by extrapolation, ...

where speaker identification in the middle of a sentence is also used to emphasise how the sentence is being spoken.

or

... it wouldn’t be such a stretch to – amplify?” – Fatima smiled encouragingly while Sam carried on – “that to create ...

to indicate another character's actions while the speaker's speaking.

Or am I being too darn clever for my own boots and I should rewrite to follow the basic rules? Although I'm sure I've read books where this sort of thing has been done.

Any thoughts?  ???

Cheers.
"My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a Crow."
"So would mine. But f**k 'em, they're dead."
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If you've time, my science fiction can be found at:
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Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 04:17:58 PM »
Smurf, I don't know what is correct or not but check under the key word, "TAGS" and see if it yealds something otherwise hold on a bit longer and one of the pro's will answer this for you.
I'll listen in so I learn too.  ;D
Skip

Wolfe

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2009, 04:19:54 PM »
This requires a semester to teach the technique in some universities, but I'll simplify.

The action or dialogue break, you showed, sees use when you want to amply the emotions before and after the break.

For example, "I hate you," she said.

Pretty weak.  How about, "I hate," she glowered at him, "you."

Notice how the emphasis shifts into each word?  It reads like this: "I hate. You."

Another one.

"Do you like me?" she asked.

"Do you," she asked, "like me?"

Notice how the second one shows more hesitation and fear without an adverb in sight? It shows instead of tells.  :D

If I understand what you ask, you know the proper technique and when to use it. Play with the style to see what works to create tension in your prose. :)

Hope this helps.

Wolfe

« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 04:23:13 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Smurf

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2009, 05:13:20 PM »
Thanks Wolfe. For a while now I've paid particular attention to your replies, so I'm glad you took the time to answer my query.

Good. I didn't think I was mad trying to use speech marks for effect, but it's nice to have it confirmed. You've given me another couple of examples of exactly what I was trying to do and how to correctly put it down on paper.

Skip - Thanks for coming back to me so quickly. As you've no doubt noticed by now, if you're looking to learn you could do far worse than listen to Wolfe  ;D

See? I knew this forum had its uses!  ;)
"My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a Crow."
"So would mine. But f**k 'em, they're dead."
-----------------------------------------------------------
If you've time, my science fiction can be found at:
http://abrucestewart.uk/anthology/

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2009, 09:33:44 PM »
I hope you don't mind me jumping in with my own query, on the topic of speech marks of course.

I have this in the latest work I posted for critique:

“You better have,” Aodhan took a ragged breath, “a good reason for such a dirty attack. What do you want? I have nothing with me but the horse.”

I chopped the dialogue in an awkward spot, on purpose, for the emphasis on his tone and how he's affected by the blow to his head.
I was thinking of getting rid of "ragged", though.

Does this achieve the purpose or is it just too weird? I posted this elsewhere and it wasn't so well received because it was choppy and awkward.
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Wolfe

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2009, 09:38:21 PM »
Personally?

I think it's perfect.

My first impression, with the pause, was he needed to breathe after either running or coming out of a shocking moment. The action break worked like a gem.

I might clean-up the dialogue, but the break works for me and how.  ;D

Wolfe
« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 06:47:47 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2009, 09:54:55 PM »
This is cool, you folks taught me a new trick/ tool, thank you  ;D

Lin

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Re: Guidance on Speech Marks
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2009, 04:19:23 AM »
I think with all of this and looking at the big picture its often better to read it out loud or get someone to do it for you if you are unsure. 

Sometimes we can put in tags which have already been explained in the dialogue, so watch out for that.

Very often we shouldn't have to put in a tag - try it without and make it obvious who is speaking.

You can put all your tags in the dialogue itself. 

"I feel bad about this.  Look Sam,  can you give me a call back on this number?"

The one below is not necessary


 Sam was on the phone.  Feeling bad  about the situation Pete said "Can you give me a call back on this number?"


You can also do pauses "Do you really think... I mean... phew its hot in here... no I meant... do you really think we can do this by ourselves?'

What a lot of information I have put in there in just dialogue without any tags.

OR "Ddd dye think we can ddo this bby ourselves? "  Sam stuttered  - doesn't work


A good dialogue tag is when you bring in another character whom the reader couldnt possibly guess who is speaking  John broke the silence " Do you really think this will help?"


My consultant whom I recently hired is very keen for me to write how it is, tell the story in the dialogue but in moderation with a good balance. Get into the head of your characters more and there will be less need for dialogue tags.

I hope this helps

Lin x
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 04:43:57 AM by Orangutansaver »