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  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Dialogue Workshop: Just How Do You Say That? moving on, Part Two

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Valairy Scot, Nov 29, 2007.

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  1. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Yes, this is another of several short-term workshops on writing topics. Everyone is welcome to participate, even if they come in after the workshop has started!

    We will work on exercises: all dialogue snippets vs. the same action minus dialogue, but we will also review and discuss the use of dialogue in effectively telling your story.

    If all you want is to know when to capitalize a word, use a comma, or whatever, I call that the mechanics of writing dialogue, and we will begin with that.

    Ground rules:
    1. This is a workshop. There might be work! You may post questions; you might participate in the exercises, or both. Participation levels will vary.
    2. This is supposed to be a friendly, helpful workshop. Keep in mind that behind every post is a person with feelings, hopes and dreams. Please remember that when posting.
    3. While we might quote from our stories, please do not link the stories. This is not a place for advertisement of your or another person's fics, although you are welcome to use excerpts from one of your stories as examples.
    4. This one is the most important one of the bunch. It is possible that there will be constructive evaluation of work presented in the thread. People can learn a lot by doing but the thread participants don't have to give examples of their own work if they don't feel comfortable doing so. (Feel free to quote, criticize or question something of mine if you?re shy.)

    I encourage everyone to respond to the other participants ? feedback is a wonderful tool. This is a group exercise.

    Constructive evaluation should be as gentle; the key word is constructive. People learn better (and listen harder) if they get examples and suggestions on their work in a non-judgmental and helpful manner (heavy emphasis on helpful).

    My credentials: experience. To be frank, I?m one of those who absorbed ?rules? and such by reading well edited books when that meant something. I am not a ?grammar expert;? I am quite well informed on the subject, though.

    If anyone wishes to contradict anything I post, feel free to point out what, and most importantly, why. I am armed with grammar books in my defense, but I am sure I will be incorrect from time to time, but since you are here to learn something, perhaps my aura of invincibility will remain unchallenged.[face_shhh]

    Yes, humor is encouraged ? let?s make this fun as well as instructive.

    One last thing ? I'm only the host/moderator. If you have a question or additional ideas about the topic, please feel free to ask it here or else PM me. No problem!

    Do not be afraid to overrule spell check in Word either ? it?s not set up for fiction writing. Use it as a tool, but more important, use your brain.

    If it tells you ?Obi-Wan? requires a plural verb, stick your tongue out and cheerfully hit, ?ignore once.? It thinks a hyphenated name is two people. Even if Ben Kenobi still thinks of himself as Obi-Wan Kenobi when he goes into exile, he is still one person even if he has that dual personality.

    I highly recommend a wonderful companion piece, found on TFN itself in the articles section, named [link=http://fanfic.theforce.net/articles.asp?action=view&ID=38]Dialogue Formatting 101[/link] by Rhynne. I am indebted to this author as well as ?Dialogue? in the ?Write Great Fiction? series, by Gloria Kempton, found in any bookstore. I will draw heavily on both sources. I would quote some of the TFN article but I had no response to my email requesting permission to do so. Please read it, it goes into much more detail than I.

    Topics will include the mechanics, making your dialogue flow, giving voice to your character(s), integrating dialogue and prose, and when dialogue or prose might be more appropriate.

    What is dialogue? Dialogue is the written representation of speech, pure and simple. It doesn?t have to be tricky ? in fact, the trickiest part of writing dialogue for many writers is the punctuation. If you have another issue you want addressed, post it here or PM me so we can address it for the others who might hav
     
  2. MsLanna

    MsLanna Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Yay, a workshop on dialogue![face_dancing]

    The biggest prblem I have with that is that I never know how much dialouge, text, dialouge, text dilaouge text ect is too much for a paragraph I tend to go on and on.[face_blush]

    I've had some updates that ver rather heavy on dialouge lately, lemme see what I can get together of exercise two. (Yeah, sorry, I'll skip Nr. One, I rely much on leo.dict to find the right English words. [face_whistling])

    [hl=skyblue]Exercise 2[/hl]

    "I am a Jedi, I have no time for this," Kyp sighed. (original)

    Kyp sighed, "I am a Jedi, I have no time for this."

    "I am a Jedi," Kyp sighed, "I have no time for this."


    For short dialouge like that, I usually tag at the end. Putting tags at the front is something I rarely do, I think it sounds strange.

    Example:

    Slinking into the chair opposite to him, Leila purred, "Well, hello Mando. If that is not too much of a coincidence that you are indeed exactly where Graden told me."

    "Well, hello Mando. If that is not too much of a coincidence that you are indeed exactly where Graden told me, Leila purred, slinking into the chair opposite to him.

    "Well, hello Mando," Leila purred, slinking into the chair opposite to him. "If that is not too much of a coincidence that you are indeed exactly where Graden told me."
    (Original)


    I like putting the tag into the dilouge, because it puts a small pause where I want it. The reader has to 'stop' to read the tag, re-creating the pause I see my character making.
    I hope that is making sense.
     
  3. correllian_ale

    correllian_ale Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Very cool indeed. I always believed dialogue was one of my few strong points, but I'm sure this workshop will only improve on it! :D


    [hl=limegreen]Exercise 1:[/hl]

    Said
    Whispered
    Yelled
    Stuttered

    grumbled
    complained
    snarked
    bit out
    snapped
    hinted
    offered
    shouted
    screamed
    hollered
    persisted
    repeated
    stated
    returned

    (I'm sure I could think of more, but I must get to work soon)



    [hl=limegreen]Exercise 2:[/hl]


    Vyyk grumbled, "You don't know what it's like, to be me."


    "You don't know what it's like," Vyyk grumbled, "to be me."


    "You don't know what it's like, to be me" Vyyk grumbled.


    I agree with Lanna, I rarely place a tag in the begging, unless it's following an action by the speaker.


    Thanks for putting this together Valairy!
     
  4. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    While I love dialogue, my downfall is punctuation!

    If the speaker is trailing off, uncertain how to complete his own sentence, it would be indicated by ellipses (three periods), completed by a period for a total of four periods to indicate a completed sentence, or with a comma if a tag follows.

    ?I thought?.? (no tag)
    ?I thought?,? he whispered, uncertain how to proceed. (tag)


    **Head hitting the desk!**

    Great job, Val. I'll be back with examples later.

    As for tags, I put them anywhere they sound good - front, back, middle. I like to mix them up. I feel that if the tags are always in the same place, it makes my story seem more static. But I also write in a more formal style so it needs something to keep the words flowing without getting boring.


    Dialogue exercise:

    "I will reach Jinn's farm tomorrow, gut the harlot and her whelp and then return to Coruscant..., "his apprentice hesitated, "unless you want me to kill Windu."

    His apprentice hesitated, "I will reach Jinn's farm tomorrow, gut the harlot and her whelp and then return to Coruscant... unless you want me to kill Windu."

    "I will reach Jinn's farm tomorrow, gut the harlot and her whelp and then return to Coruscant... unless you want me to kill Windu," his apprentice hesitated.

    In this example, the first sentence was the one I wrote. I didn't have the comma there though initially so I put it in. The second sentence is okay. The third sentence doesn't work as dialogue to me.

    Speech exercise: For that, I use thesaurus.com a lot but I didn't this time. I wanted to see how many I could come up with on my own. ;)

    sputtered
    stuttered
    muttered
    murmured
    hissed
    husked
    huffed
    spat
    gulped
    whispered
    cried
    whimpered
    yelled
    sang
    screamed
    shrieked
    gurgled



     
  5. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Great job, all!

    We will cover how to use dialogue in the story in a later workshop as well as how to use it effectively. The book I cited is wonderful for giving examples and reasons on doing that, it is worth the $16.99 price.

    I like putting the tag into the dialogue, because it puts a small pause where I want it. The reader has to 'stop' to read the tag, re-creating the pause I see my character making. (MsLanna)

    As for tags, I put them anywhere they sound good - front, back, middle. I like to mix them up. I feel that if the tags are always in the same place, it makes my story seem more static. But I also write in a more formal style so it needs something to keep the words flowing without getting boring. (Dianethx)

    Very good points, both of you, which is why we?ll describe the placement of the tag in the next workshop, as well as using tags versus not.

    MsLanna: Your Example 1, third sentence actually brings up a point I?m not 100% sure of myself.

    "I am a Jedi," Kyp sighed, "I have no time for this."

    Your dialogue line is two clauses separated by a comma ? a compound sentence with two independent clauses if I remember my grammar. Without your first two examples, personally I would write:

    "I am a Jedi," Kyp sighed. "I have no time for this." (Note I placed a period after the tag, not a comma, and I treated the second clause as a independent complete sentence.)

    Example 2: Your second sentence is minus the quotation mark to signal the end of dialogue before the tag. This is a plain and simple typo, right? [face_batting]


    [blockquote]Slinking into the chair opposite to him, Leila purred, "Well, hello Mando. If that is not too much of a coincidence that you are indeed exactly where Graden told me."

    "Well, hello Mando. If that is not too much of a coincidence that you are indeed exactly where Graden told me, Leila purred, slinking into the chair opposite to him.

    "Well, hello Mando," Leila purred, slinking into the chair opposite to him. "If that is not too much of a coincidence that you are indeed exactly where Graden told me." (Original) [/blockquote]

    I like the first and third examples the best: the first because slinking and purring go together and really help paint a picture; the second because you still link slinking and purring. Third is my favorite, though.

    Corellian_Ale: In Example One, third sentence you wrote:

    "You don't know what it's like, to be me" Vyyk grumbled.

    I hope you, too, made a typo. :D There should be a comma before the tag.

    Dianethx:


    [blockquote]"I will reach Jinn's farm tomorrow, gut the harlot and her whelp and then return to Coruscant..., "his apprentice hesitated, "unless you want me to kill Windu."

    His apprentice hesitated, "I will reach Jinn's farm tomorrow, gut the harlot and her whelp and then return to Coruscant... unless you want me to kill Windu."

    "I will reach Jinn's farm tomorrow, gut the harlot and her whelp and then return to Coruscant... unless you want me to kill Windu," his apprentice hesitated.

    In this example, the first sentence was the one I wrote. I didn't have the comma there though initially so I put it in. The second sentence is okay. The third sentence doesn't work as dialogue to me. [/blockquote]

    I totally agree. Since I know that scene from your story, the first is really the best use of the tag (though technically it is not a tag, right? [face_thinking] If you?re hesitating, you?re not speaking ? you have stopped speaking. Is this clear to everyone?).

    We'll call it a tag, though, since the punctuation rules apply to this as well as a true tag. The reason it works best is that the apprentice is talking and then he has a moment of hesitation before finishing his sentence. He is not hesitating about the entire dialogue.

    Does that make sense to everyone? Do I see nodding heads?


     
  6. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Hello, everyone, I have a confession to make. I am a dialogue addict. I have accepted this. :p

    Dialogue, to me, is (almost) always vital to a story. What a character says gives the audience a lot of information on what kind of person they are... or what they're pretending to be. Good dialogue's in about my top three of Things I Go Out of My Way to Hopefully Get Right. But I'll move along to the exercises...

    Exercise 1

    Said
    Whispered
    Yelled
    Stuttered

    Declared
    Shouted
    Questioned
    Asked
    Implied
    Noted
    Growled
    Purred
    Hissed
    Exclaimed
    Moaned
    Groaned
    Bemoaned
    Sputtered
    Gasped
    Snarled
    Spat
    Announced
    Retorted
    Replied
    Answered
    Responded
    Avowed
    Stated
    Rambled
    Muttered
    Interrupted
    Interjected
    Blurted
    Breathed
    Prompted
    Verified
    Denied
    Continued
    Added
    I'll stop there before I sprain something.

    Exercise 2

    Alias interjected, "Assassination. Noun. The act of killing someone for sweet, sweet cash."

    "Assassination. Noun. The act of killing someone for sweet, sweet cash," interjected Alias.

    "Assassination," Alias interjected. "Noun. The act of killing someone for sweet, sweet cash."
    (original)


    I used to use the second almost exclusively, but I've made a conscious effort to try the others, and also switch the verb and noun from time to time like I did above ("interjected Alias"). Now it's pretty much second nature. I use different tags so things don't get repetitive - unless I want them to. I remember one scene in particular when I had four lines of dialogue in a row from four different characters, all tagged by "___ muttered, taking cover." Well I thought it worked. :p
     
  7. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Hey Face - I think Dianethx and I are also Dialogue Addicts. Let's start a club! [face_dancing]

    All of you have chosen very visual words that describe a manner of speaking. If you use tags, don't overuse, sometimes people just "say" something.

    I'm glad to see that no one is throwing in lots of "big" words like "expostulate." According to Gloria Kempton, never use "expostulate," "reiterate," or "extrapolate."

    I say use sparingly, if at all, and only if appropriate to your character. I can see Obi-Wan getting frustrated repeating the same lesson over and over to Anakin, so he might well say:

    "I have told you more than once, Anakin, think before you leap," the master reiterated for the tenth time that day.

    Of course, he might have "demanded" or "repeated" or "chided."
     
  8. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Exercise 1:

    Screamed
    bellowed
    whispered
    intimated
    muttered
    murmured
    mumbled
    blurted
    burbled
    countered
    rejoined
    retorted
    responded
    replied
    breathed
    said
    snarled
    whispered
    wheezed
    whimpered
    drawled
    hissed


    Exercise 2:

    From Lest Ye Be Judged, the most climactic line of the whole story:

    Original:

    ?In response to your numerous crimes and the needs of the people,? Rieekan said in an almost reverent tone, ?we sentence you to death by lethal injection.?

    Rewrite and original.

    At last, Rieekan reverently said, ?In response to your numerous crimes and the needs of the people, we sentence you to death by lethal injection.?

    "In response to your numerous crimes and the needs of the people, we sentence you to death by lethal injection," Rieekan said in an almost reverent tone.

    ?In response to your numerous crimes and the needs of the people,? Rieekan said in an almost reverent tone, ?we sentence you to death by lethal injection.?
     
  9. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Have you thought of "intoned" rather than "said?" "Proclaimed?"

    I'm sneaking this in at work, so this is a hasty reply which I may come back and edit. This sounds like a very formal pronouncement of sentence, so personally I'd use a more formal word tag to show the gravity of the words.

    IMHO (since I don't know what preceded your excerpt and I might be missing the context) I am not fond of your first sentence. At last, Rieekan reverently said... if you like that intro, I'd substitute: After a long pause, Rieekan reverently said....

    I'm also not fond of the "reverently said." "Said reverently" seems to flow better.

    Other than that, I personally lean towards the interrupted dialogue (third sentence). Why? It almost makes the reader sit up and take notice. It introduces tension. We have the introductory dialogue, the grave tone of the speaker, and we have - tell me, oh, author, what is the punishment?

    Any other posters care to comment?
     
  10. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    I also liked Ishtar's third sentence with the interrupted dialogue. Really upped the tension.

    When I read this, I had an epiphany!!!

    In my head, the spoken word isn't the only dialogue. Physical reactions such as hesitate or frown or smile seem as much a part of the dialogue to me as the actual dialogue. So when you are talking about tags for the dialogue, I couldn't see the difference. I'll have to be conscious of that in future.

    Example: Sitting back in his chair, glowering at the images, Palpatine huffed annoyance, "I am not used to waiting for the servants of the Republic to contact me. My secretary has been trying to reach you for some time."

    So to me, huffing annoyance was a dialogue tag but it isn't really one. So I should have had a period after annoyance. Right?
     
  11. star_writer24

    star_writer24 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Awesome workshop! Can't believe how many dialogue sins I've been committing! Thanks for putting this together.

    Exercise 1: Since a tag consists of a noun/pronoun plus a verb, and that verb technically refers to a manner of speaking, list as many verbs for speech as you can.

    Said
    Whispered
    Yelled
    Stuttered

    There?s four to get you started.

    Screamed
    Cried
    Muttered
    Hollered
    Yelled

    (As you can see I am in desperate need of this workshop. I think I'll go review some of the longer lists[face_blush] )


    Exercise 2:(Okay I am going to use a sentence I was unsure about, hopefully I do this correctly.)

    1. Anakin shouted, while glaring up at his uncle, ?What the hell was that? She acted like she couldn?t even see us! She was terrified.?

    2. ?What the hell was that?" Anakin shouted, while glaring up at his uncle, "she acted like she couldn?t even see us! She was terrified.?

    3. ?What the hell was that? She acted like she couldn?t even see us! She was terrified,? Anakin shouted, while glaring up at his uncle.


    ...phew I have to admit after being out school for so long this is a little nerve wracking! But I look forward to improving.
     
  12. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Why is this the 'weakest of tags'. What is 'weak' in this case?

    Exercise 1
    Yammered
    Stammered
    Sniveled
    Moaned
    Groaned
    Intoned
    Shrilled
    Cooed
    Murmured
    Rumbled
    Grumbled
    Mumbled
    Exclaimed
    Ejaculated (This one is very dated and turns up in the original Sherlock Holmes books when A. Conan Doyle meant 'exclaimed', but, well, means something else in the 21st Century. Or maybe it meant the same thing, but the Victorians just didn't know it.)


    Exercise 2

    "Ooooh! Icky, icky goo!!" Jar Jar exclaimed.

    "Ooooh!" Jar Jar exclaimed. "Icky, icky goo!!"

    Jar Jar exclaimed, "Ooooh! Icky, icky goo!!"

     
  13. correllian_ale

    correllian_ale Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2005
    [face_blush] I will use the excuse that it was six in the morning, but I wanted to squeeze in my participation before I left for work. It honestly was a typo. (for shame)



    Makes sense to me. :D

    But wouldn't that make huffing annoyance more of an expression (like a frown) than an actual dialogue tag? :confused:
     
  14. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    And this is why I get confused! LOL. I do a lot of physical descriptions attached to my dialogue. So I'm never sure whether it should be a dialogue tag or a sentence on its own.

    I hope I'm not diverting the workshop in new directions... [face_worried]
     
  15. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I definitely base things like whether it would be used as "said" or "intoned" or some such on two things: 1) Who is speaking and 2) Who is directing the narrative consciousness of the scene. In one of my favorite scenes from that fic, I wrote the exact same scene twice. It was the same dialogue and the same setting as the verdict in the trial was read, but the first POV was Han, one of the victims. The second was Rieekan, one of the judges. They had very different ideas about how/why the players in that scene were saying things.
     
  16. dark_jedi_lover

    dark_jedi_lover Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Dialogue is one of my favorite parts of writing. :)

    Exercise 1:
    snapped
    whispered
    read
    choked out
    sputtered
    retorted

    In my opinion, less is more where tags are concerned. I guess it comes from reading books where every other line of dialogue was a muttered or a remarked or an answered. Nothing wrong with good old fashioned he said or better yet, mixing between said and the more creative tags with lines completely devoid of tags. That way when you have something really dramatic to say, it won't be buried beneath ten other whispered sentences.

    Exercise 2:
    Placement of tags seems like such a simple little thing, but it can really pack a punch/add to tension/whatever. I can think of no example that can illustrate this better than one of my favorite "simple little" lines from the RotS novelization:

    "Things change," Mace Windu said grimly.

    Mace Windu said grimly, "Things change."

    "Things," Mace Windu said grimly, "change." (Original)
     
  17. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Interactive workshop ? I love it![:D]

    So to me, huffing annoyance was a dialogue tag but it isn't really one. So I should have had a period after annoyance. Right? (Dianethx)

    Right! The dialogue might have been ?huffed? but ?huffing annoyance? is his behavior, his state of being as it were.

    In my head, the spoken word isn't the only dialogue. Physical reactions such as hesitate or frown or smile seem as much a part of the dialogue to me as the actual dialogue. (Dianethx)

    Citing Dialogue again, one cannot grin or cough a sentence. However, I personally see nothing wrong with: ?You don?t say,? he coughed. That is still punctuated as a tag. If anyone has a reference that disagrees with the cited book, please cite it.

    Have we changed the meaning by writing:

    "You don't say." He coughed.

    The character spoke. Following the dialogue he coughed. He might have rolled his eyes. His words were not coughed, no, he coughed after delivering his lines, so this was not written as a tag.

    That second way of writing it looks awkward, doesn't it? That is probably why we write it the first way, as if it were a tag, and if you are coughing as in a slight hiccuping mode, you can "cough" your words. I tried it just now.

    I know I use sometimes use words out of their normal context to paint a picture. Coughing your dialogue may well fall under "creative license."

    We'll look at the use of "hesitate" as opposed to "coughing" a bit later. It's pretty much the same issue, but I wished to address Dianethx's question about using physical actions/reactions as tags.

    Now back to Dianethx?s example of:

    Sitting back in his chair, glowering at the images, Palpatine huffed annoyance, "I am not used to waiting for the servants of the Republic to contact me. My secretary has been trying to reach you for some time."

    Yes, I would use a period after annoyance. The first line of dialogue is a complete sentence in itself and not the object of huffing annoyance. If anything, the images are the object of Palpy's huffed annoyance. :)

    [blockquote] Sidenote: dialogue does not have to be proper grammar; it does not have to be a complete sentence. We use contractions, we use fragments. You want to sound natural, write the way your character would speak. We'll cover that later.[/blockquote]

    If you want a tag, what about?

    Sitting back in his chair, glowering at the images, Palpatine huffed, "I am not used to waiting for the servants of the Republic to contact me. My secretary has been trying to reach you for some time."

    Minor, minor difference in wording. Any comments, anyone?

    Star_Writer24: Yeah! A compound tag (MY made-up term :p) meaning a tag + another phrase. Everyone note that?

    1. Anakin shouted, while glaring up at his uncle, ?What the hell was that? She acted like she couldn?t even see us! She was terrified.?

    Dissecting that, we start with a tag that is not modified by an adverb (remember, adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs). That phrase is not modifying the tag in the slightest; the actions are entirely separate though they occur at the same time.

    The tag still takes an object, so Star_Writer24 is perfectly correct.

    I think this is the weakest example of the three, though. Why?

    Anakin is shouting. Before we know why, we know also that he is glaring at his uncle. I want to know why he's shouting.

    It would be strengthened by a simple reversal: While glaring at his uncle, Anakin shouted, "What the hell was that? She acted like she couldn?t even see us! She was terrified.?

    Now, as regards this example:

    2. ?What the hell was that?" Anakin shouted, while glaring up at his uncle, "she acted like she couldn?t even see us! She was terrified.?

    Since the first part of dialogue functions perfectly well on its own as can the second part, I would put a period after uncle. I would then capitalize ?she? to start the second
     
  18. MsLanna

    MsLanna Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2005
    MsLanna: Your Example 1, third sentence actually brings up a point I?m not 100% sure of myself.

    "I am a Jedi," Kyp sighed, "I have no time for this."

    Your dialogue line is two clauses separated by a comma ? a compound sentence with two independent clauses if I remember my grammar. Without your first two examples, personally I would write:

    "I am a Jedi," Kyp sighed. "I have no time for this." (Note I placed a period after the tag, not a comma, and I treated the second clause as a independent complete sentence.)


    Well, last I read, you can do it both ways. It's a choice thing like tagging 'coughed' or putting it as a seperate sentence. I did not make it a seperate sentence, because in my head, Kyp is saying this in one go. So making it one sentence with the tag inserted would draw it closer toghether than having two sentences. In the original, I didn't put the tag in there for that reason.

    Example 2: Your second sentence is minus the quotation mark to signal the end of dialogue before the tag. This is a plain and simple typo, right? [face_batting]

    Um, the non-existent qutations marks were Darth Typo.[face_blush]

    I like the first and third examples the best: the first because slinking and purring go together and really help paint a picture; the second because you still link slinking and purring. Third is my favorite, though.

    I wanted the purring to refer more to the greeting than the rest. She's not a cat.:p



    We'll call it a tag, though, since the punctuation rules apply to this as well as a true tag. The reason it works best is that the apprentice is talking and then he has a moment of hesitation before finishing his sentence. He is not hesitating about the entire dialogue.

    Does that make sense to everyone? Do I see nodding heads?


    Makes perfect sense to me.:)

    which is why we?ll describe the placement of the tag in the next workshop, as well as using tags versus not.

    I'm looking forward to it. It's my biggest problem right now.
    What did help me (apart from reading that great article in the archives) was consciously looking if I was describing the way the dialouge is spoken, of if it's just the nonverbal part of the answer.
     
  19. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Works for me! Intent is a huge part of writing, and I saw nothing "wrong" with your sentence. It's more of a preference issue for me, but that's only my opinion.

    I reread one of my stories last night and [face_blush] I made a number of errors punctuating dialogue in it. I'm not an expert, either, just trying to learn along with everyone else.
     
  20. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    On the subject of context, here is something that I read in an essay by Arthur C. Clarke on the subject of appropriate dialogue (paraphrased because I don't have a photographic memory):

    In Nicholas Nickleby, one of the characters, in a moment of extreme distress, cries out "Refute these calumnies, Nicholas!"

    A famous story is that when several MLB players were convicted of rigging the World Series, a young boy was in attendance. He said to his passing hero, "Say it ain't so, Joe."

    Now, take these both into consideration. You could no more expect the Dickens character to say "Say it ain't so, Nick" than you could expect the 6-year-old to say "Refute these calumnies, Joseph!"
     
  21. Darth_Lex

    Darth_Lex Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 17, 2002
    This is a very important point, IMO. It?s all about balance. The more you use simple tags (like ?he said?) and dialogue without any tags (or beats), the more powerful the descriptive and evocative tags (or beats) become when you do affirmatively choose to use them.

    I imagine it?ll be coming up later in the workshop, but I think the issue of tag usage is inextricably linked to the use of dialogue adverbs, as well. Many fanfic writers seem to feel like the author needs to describe how every single line of dialogue is delivered. (I imagine this is due in large part to the influence of the movies, where the delivery is always readily apparently.) There may be times where it helps to specify; for example, two characters arguing might be shouting at each other or their voices might be deadly calm. But most of the time, it?s really not necessary ? because most of the time, the very words of dialogue themselves show the reader enough about the character?s state of mind. That?s why a good mix of dialogue with tags, beats, adverbs, and nothing at all (just freestanding dialogue) is the most effective.

    That is a wonderful example. Stover?s usage conveys exactly the right meaning for that scene. First, he uses an adverb, not a descriptive verb, which conveys a different emphasis. Second, it expressly exactly HOW Mace is delivering that line in terms of pacing.

    An example from one of my stories can illustrate what I mean.

    The original line is this: Jag held the Moff?s gaze for a long moment. Then, deliberately, he looked back over his shoulder. ?Captain Krieg,? he said. ?Open fire.?

    How is the dialogue delivered? There are several ways, with progressively longer pauses, to convey that even without a tag:

    ?CaptainKriegOpenFire.?
    ?Captain Krieg, open fire.?
    ?Captain Krieg. Open fire.?
    ?Captain Krieg? Open fire.?

    To convey the effect even more, a tag (or a beat) could be added to delay the reader?s sense of reaching the second half:

    ?CaptainKriegOpenFire.?
    ?Captain Krieg, open fire.?
    ?Captain Krieg. Open fire.?
    ?Captain Krieg,? he said. ?Open fire.?
    ?Captain Krieg? Open fire.?
    ?Captain Kreig?? He paused, gathering himself to give the order. ?Open fire.?

    Picking carefully among the options really can convey a very effective meaning to the character?s delivery of the dialogue.

    And note, in any of these examples, writing the tag as ? ?Captain Krieg, open fire,? he said. ? completely destroys the emotional power of the words.

    I?m not sure that I?ve seen a source disagree, but the book I?ve always found the most helpful, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, makes the same point. Dialogue can only be delivered by means of speech-related verbs. You can?t grin words any more than you can jump or shoot them. :p

     
  22. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    DarthIshtar and Darth_Lex - I couldn't say what you both said half so eloquently. Wonderful points and presented in a clear and easy to understand manner.

    To summarize this first session:

    Tags serve to identify who spoke, and how. Tags take an object - a line of dialogue, which may precede or follow the tag. Tags technically must refer to a manner of verbal speech, thus one cannot grin a word just like one cannot jump a word. From now on, however, I am not going to harp on this and just refer to any "he blustered" as a tag for convenience's sake.

    Tags preceding its object are punctuated with a comma outside the quotation mark.

    He said, "What?"

    Tags following its object have the comma (unless the dialogue line itself is punctuated by a question mark or exclamation point) within the quotation mark. This applies whether the line of dialogue ends in an ellipses, dash, or continues on past the tag.

    "What?" he said.

    "I don't know," he said.

    Tags interrupting dialogue follow the same rule. If the line of dialogue AND the line of dialogue following the tag are essentially one interrupted sentence (a comma splice) - THE SAME RULES APPLY.

    "I don't know," he growled, "if that is correct." (One line of dialogue, interrupted by tag.)

    "I don't know," he growled. "You might be correct." (Object precedes the tag. Two lines of dialogue.)

    "I don't know." He growled, "You might be correct." (Object follows the tag. Two lines of dialogue.)

    If the "interrupter" is not a tag, punctuate as you would normally.

    "I guess." He stood up to leave. "See you."

    The above is one line of dialogue, one line of phrase, and one line of dialogue.

    Any new line of dialogue after a tag - in other words, not a continuation of the line of dialogue preceding the tag, is capitalized. It is the beginning of a new sentence, even if preceded by a tag.

    I said, "This is correct."

    I found some new articles on the web by "googling" and typing in "dialogue>punctuation." Try it and read some other explanations.

    I like the way they describe a phrase like: She said, standing up to leave.

    She said = tag.
    standing up to leave = description.

    If your tag has a descriptor, either before or after, none of the rules applying to punctuation of tags change.

    "I think you're right," she said, standing up to leave. "There is no more to be said. I will be leaving now."


    "I think you're right," she said, standing up to leave, "but I hate to be agreeing with you."


    In the above case, using the conjunction "but" makes the entire line of dialogue one interrupted line, rather than two independent sentences.

    I hope that is a clear and concise summary of dialogue punctuation.

    Since this is easy to explain and falls into punctuation, you may have lines of dialogue too long to be one paragraph. For online reading, I like to keep my paragraphs small, and sometimes break one written in Word into two for the boards.

    As long as the same character is speaking, the only thing you do different is you DO NOT end any paragraph of dialogue with a quotation mark until the final paragraph of that speaker's dialogue.

    Each paragraph, however, does start with a quotation mark.

    Valairy tried to make this really clear. "I want to say this as many times as I can, yeah, ignore this as I'm just spouting words to make some really long sentences for illustration purposes. I want to be sure you understand this, so I'm trying to get in enough words to make a paragraph.

    "As I said, start the new paragraph with a quotation. If I'm done speaking, I'll end this paragraph with a quotation.
     
  23. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    How about this, though?

    Valairy tried to make this really clear. "I want to say this as many times as I can, yeah, ignore this as I'm just spouting words to make some really long sentences for illustration purposes. I want to be sure you understand this, so I'm trying to get in enough words to make a paragraph.

    "As I said, start the new paragraph with a quotation. If I'm done speaking, I'll end this paragraph with a quotation. I'm still trying to make this long enough to masquerade as an entire paragraph. Have I succeeded?

    "Since I'm really wordy, guess what? I didn't end my speech with that paragraph. I will, however, do so with this one. Really, I promise, finally, to shut up."



    I assume that doesn't hold if there is an interruption and then the speaker speaks again?

    Valairy tried to make this really clear. "I want to say this as many times as I can, yeah, ignore this as I'm just spouting words to make some really long sentences for illustration purposes. I want to be sure you understand this, so I'm trying to get in enough words to make a paragraph."

    She stepped forward and said, "As I said, start the new paragraph with a quotation. If I'm done speaking, I'll end this paragraph with a quotation. I'm still trying to make this long enough to masquerade as an entire paragraph. Have I succeeded?

    "Since I'm really wordy, guess what? I didn't end my speech with that paragraph. I will, however, do so with this one. Really, I promise, finally, to shut up."

     
  24. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    [:D] Dianethx: You get @};- !

    Yes, the interruption, whether prose, another character, whatever effectively ended the prior speaker's dialogue.
     
  25. Brant_Flir

    Brant_Flir Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    May 30, 2005
    This is a great workshop! I think I'll join in.



    Exercise 1:: Since a tag consists of a noun/pronoun plus a verb, and that verb technically refers to a manner of speaking, list as many verbs for speech as you can.

    Said
    Whispered
    Yelled
    Stuttered
    stampered
    spat
    cried
    told
    commented
    answered
    questioned
    remarked
    wondered
    asked
    grumbled
    whispered
    admonished




    Exercise 2:
    "The time of the Jedi is over..." the serene being whispered in utter disbelief.

    The serene being whispered in utter disbelief, "The time of the Jedi is over..."

    "The time of the Jedi," the serene being whispered in utter disbelief, "is over..."



    Thankyou for making this Valairt_Scot.



    ::hubs::
    [face_monkey]
     
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