Direct Speech

This topic contains 30 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  GidgetLindley8 10 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #346415

    Anonymous

    Hello everyone,
    I wanted to ask a question about direct speech here, because I couldn’t find anything concerning my problem in the internet.
    So, let me explain, I know how direct speech works, obviously, but I’m getting a little confused when it comes to one specific part. Let’s say, Max and Allison are having a conversation:
    “How was your day?”, asked Max
    “Great. I got promoted”, answered Allison.
    “Oh, congratulations”
    -> Obviously the last sentence is said by Max, so there is no need to add anything like “, said Max”. If I wanted to show an immediate reaction of Allison, how would I need to do the punctuation?
    Would I need to do it like this?:
    “Oh, congratualions”, Allison was flattered by the positive words of Max.
    Like that?:
    “Oh, congratualions.” Allison was flattered…
    Or completely different?

    I’ve been struggling with this for quite some time, so thanks a lot in advance for an answer 🙂

    PS: I’m sorry for any mistakes concerning grammar, vocabulary or spelling – I’m not a native english speaker

    Greetings, Jade (:

  • #654021

    Anonymous

    You would want this:

    “Oh, congratulations.” Allison was flattered by the positive words of Max.

    What she says is a different sentence from her reaction to what Max said.

  • #654022

    Anonymous
    Tatzme wrote:
    Hello everyone,
    I wanted to ask a question about direct speech here, because I couldn’t find anything concerning my problem in the internet.
    So, let me explain, I know how direct speech works, obviously, but I’m getting a little confused when it comes to one specific part. Let’s say, Max and Allison are having a conversation:
    “How was your day?”, asked Max
    “Great. I got promoted”, answered Allison.
    “Oh, congratulations”
    -> Obviously the last sentence is said by Max, so there is no need to add anything like “, said Max”. If I wanted to show an immediate reaction of Allison, how would I need to do the punctuation?
    Would I need to do it like this?:
    “Oh, congratualions”, Allison was flattered by the positive words of Max.
    Like that?:
    “Oh, congratualions.” Allison was flattered…
    Or completely different?

    I’ve been struggling with this for quite some time, so thanks a lot in advance for an answer 🙂

    PS: I’m sorry for any mistakes concerning grammar, vocabulary or spelling – I’m not a native english speaker

    Greetings, Jade (:

    There are two sides to this issue. One side says to always identify the speaker. And they seem partial to keeping it short with a ‘he said’ type of identifier.

    The other side says we can tell when two people are talking and there is no need to clutter up the interaction with elaboration after the first exchange. I prefer to offset one speaker with indentation to emphasise who said what.

    Person one says…
    ……… Person two replies…
    (One) continues
    ……… (Two) continues
    etc
    ……… etc

  • #654023

    Anonymous

    Thank you very much 🙂

  • #654024

    Anonymous
    plughmann wrote:
    There are two sides to this issue. One side says to always identify the speaker. And they seem partial to keeping it short with a ‘he said’ type of identifier.

    The other side says we can tell when two people are talking and there is no need to clutter up the interaction with elaboration after the first exchange. I prefer to offset one speaker with indentation to emphasise who said what.

    Person one says…
    ……… Person two replies…
    (One) continues
    ……… (Two) continues
    etc
    ……… etc

    Very few experienced writers will always id the speaker – context should work for several exchanges before it’s necessary to re-identify.

    As to indenting, do you mean indenting paragraphs in general? I’ve never heard of doing it only for dialogue, or for only one speaker. How would you handle more than two speakers?

  • #654025

    jIPPity
    Participant

    Another thing: You don’t write “said Max” these days, anymore than you would write “said he.” It would always be “Max said.”

    Also, refrain from using expressions such as “Max answered,” “Allison asked,” “Max replied,” etc. Use “said” as often as possible, even if the character is asking a question.

    Finally, decide whose PoV you are in. If it’s Max’s, identify him at the beginning, then use “he said” from then on. Revert to his name only if there are more male speakers, to avoid confusion. This decreases what Steve Berry calls the” psychic distance” between the reader and the PoV character.

    –Warren

  • #654026

    Anonymous
    wdarcy wrote:
    Another thing: You don’t write “said Max” these days, anymore than you would write “said he.” It would always be “Max said.”

    Also, refrain from using expressions such as “Max answered,” “Allison asked,” “Max replied,” etc. Use “said” as often as possible, even if the character is asking a question.

    Finally, decide whose PoV you are in. If it’s Max’s, identify him at the beginning, then use “he said” from then on. Revert to his name only if there are more male speakers, to avoid confusion. This decreases what Steve Berry calls the” psychic distance” between the reader and the PoV character.

    –Warren

    That describes the first approach that is common.

  • #654027

    jIPPity
    Participant

    Hi, Plughmann. I didn’t mean to imply that one should identify each speaker every time s/he speaks. I often write dialogues where the exchanges go on two, three, or more times before I re-identify who’s speaking. I just meant that when one *does* identify a speaker by a dialogue tag, one should follow, or at least be aware of, the conventions I mentioned.

    Sorry if I was not clear on this.

    Warren

  • #654028

    Anonymous
    wdarcy wrote:
    Hi, Plughmann. I didn’t mean to imply that one should identify each speaker every time s/he speaks. I often write dialogues where the exchanges go on two, three, or more times before I re-identify who’s speaking. I just meant that when one *does* identify a speaker by a dialogue tag, one should follow, or at least be aware of, the conventions I mentioned.

    Sorry if I was not clear on this.

    Warren

    Roger that.
    Of course you should identify them the first time. And repeat later if it was long and complicated to keep the reader in sync.

  • #654029

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    Hi Tatzme,

    You have some good advice from others. My two cents. As many said, you don’t have to tag every dialog sentence. If the dialogue run smoothly, the reader will know. Another way to tag the speaker is to add emotion into the sentence versus a dialog tag. Instead of using was flattered, which could be considered passive, try using something more active like, Allison felt her cheeks warm with inspiration. Maybe not that sentence, but using an active voice usually means the reader is sensing the emotion rather than just reading it. I hope that makes sense.

    Lastly, if you are tagging someone, the tag and dialog stay together. In your example where Max say congratulations, you do not put Allison’s thoughts with Max’s dialog.

  • #654030

    Anonymous

    Thank you all so much, you really helped me out (:

    @T.A. Rodgers:
    Yeah, the emotion part totally makes sense for me. Writing about how a person feels really drags the reader into the story, in my opinion. I’m still working on how and when to use metaphors to make the text more vivid.

    @wdarcy:
    English isn’t my native language, so I’m sorry if I make some mistakes. Thanks a lot for correcting me; it really helps me to improve my english. I’m wondering why you suggested writing “said” instead of “answered”/”replied”/… Doesn’t that get boring after like 10 times?

    @ostarella:
    What does indenting mean?

    Thanks again, have a great day 🙂

  • #654031

    Anonymous
    Tatzme wrote:
    @ostarella:
    What does indenting mean?

    It’s just starting a sentence or paragraph further from the margin than the rest.

    At margin.


    Indented.

    At margin.

    The site won’t let me just indent to give you an example, so just pretend the


    doesn’t show up 🙄

  • #654032

    jIPPity
    Participant

    Tatzme, “said” is an ‘invisible” word. It almost doesn’t register on the reader, so it does not get boring. But “replied,” “answered,” etc. are all too visible, and they stand out. In any case, the prevailing wisdom among writers these days is to use “said” almost always, even when a question is involved. If possible though, use a beat instead of a dialogue tag–in other words, “she nodded,” “she smiled,” etc. That shows who’s talking, but avoids the tag.

    –Warren

  • #654033

    Anonymous
    wdarcy wrote:
    Tatzme, “said” is an ‘invisible” word. It almost doesn’t register on the reader, so it does not get boring. But “replied,” “answered,” etc. are all too visible, and they stand out. In any case, the prevailing wisdom among writers these days is to use “said” almost always, even when a question is involved. If possible though, use a beat instead of a dialogue tag–in other words, “she nodded,” “she smiled,” etc. That shows who’s talking, but avoids the tag.

    –Warren

    Agree somewhat. I find a lot of ‘saids’ to be annoying.

    Good idea about using a beat to break things up and not use ‘said’.

  • #654034

    Anonymous

    @ostarella:
    Oh yeah, thank you again 😀 I get it now.

    @wdarcy:
    I agree somewhat, just as plughman, but in some books, I get quite annoyed after twenty pages filled with 200 “said”s. I’ll try to strike a balance (:
    The part you wrote about avoiding tags is very useful. I’ll definitely try that

  • #654035

    jIPPity
    Participant

    Tatzme: The point is to use dialogue tags as sparingly as possible. But when you do use them, you should almost always use “said.” But you should only have to write that 2 or 3 times on a page, if that.

    I admit that sometimes I vary it with “he asked,” “he replied,” etc. But nothing annoys me more than an author who uses as many different dialogue tags as possible: “he expostulated,” “he remarked,” everything you can think of. Or my favorite:

    “I love you!” he ejaculated. 😀 😀 😀

    So yes, use beats as often as possible, keep dialogue tags to a minimum, but when you do write them, “said” should be your default.

    –Warren

  • #654036

    Anonymous

    Yes, if possible use said if you need a tag. I once beta’d for a writer who insisted that “said” was annoying and she used everything but – and I had to quit because I literally ended up laughing more than I was reading. Talk about distracting!

    JMO, but I have found that writers who use something other than said do so because they haven’t learned how to set up the context of how the character is speaking (that’s being charitable, actually – I honestly think many are just being lazy). There are instances where, even within context, you MAY need to add an adverb – is the character speaking angrily or sarcastically, for example. But those are rare.

  • #654037

    jIPPity
    Participant

    Yes, avoid those adverbs in dialogue tags, or you’ll create “Swifties” (named after the series of boys’ books about Tom Swift, which are replete with them). “I feel warm,” she said heatedly. “Come on, let’s go faster!” he said quickly. That sort of thing.

    Something I learned from Steven James: In writing dialogue tags, avoid the “ing” and “as” syndrome.

    “I don’t understand this,” he said, scratching his head. Or: “I don’t understand this,” he said, as he scratched his head.

    Instead write this:

    He scratched his head. “I don’t understand this.”

    According to Steven, the syndrome is distracting and sophomoric, and it’s the default choice of too many writers.

    –Warren

  • #654038

    Anonymous

    I admit I find myself doing the “ing” thing more frequently than I should. 😕 But a lot of times, adding any “motion” like “scratching his head” is unnecessary. Not always, of course, but one can find themselves going down another pot-holed road by describing every little action, like narrating a movie for a blind person. There comes a point where one has to let go of the “control button” and let the reader take over.

    That’s one of the pitfalls of writing – learning how much is enough and how much is too much. 🙁

  • #654039

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    I think if you tell a fantastic story that people can’t put down, many of the so called over done crutches no longer matter.

  • #654040

    Anonymous
    T.A.Rodgers wrote:
    I think if you tell a fantastic story that people can’t put down, many of the so called over done crutches no longer matter.

    Agree – story trumps everything. But if authors can be aware of the crutches, it makes the reading that much better (not so much for the reader to ‘forgive’). 😉

  • #654041

    jIPPity
    Participant

    I also agree–story trumps everything, even, in some cases, bad writing. But I want my writing to be as good as possible, and I want to avoid the crutches and cliches that might signal the presence of an amateur.

    But no question: The story’s the thing.

    –Warren

  • #654042

    Anonymous
    wdarcy wrote:
    I also agree–story trumps everything, even, in some cases, bad writing. But I want my writing to be as good as possible, and I want to avoid the crutches and cliches that might signal the presence of an amateur.

    But no question: The story’s the thing.

    –Warren

    What do you mean by crutch?

    Aren’t cliches part of the genre for a few types of writing ?

  • #654043

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    I believe Warren is referring to clichés that relate to story. For example, one of the most overused clichés beginning writers tend to use is the opening dream sequence.

  • #654044

    Anonymous
    T.A.Rodgers wrote:
    I believe Warren is referring to clichés that relate to story. For example, one of the most overused clichés beginning writers tend to use is the opening dream sequence.

    That may be. But what is meant by a crutch ?

    I think of old time pulp detective movies for cliche examples.

  • #654045

    timeradrake
    Participant
    sammy2 wrote:
    What do you mean by crutch?

    Aren’t cliches part of the genre for a few types of writing ?

    No. They are part of too many writers’ tools for getting a story moving. Not the genre.

    I’d argue that a successful formula isn’t quite the same as a cliche. “It was a dark and stormy night” is cliche (IMO, of course). “The night was morbid, sultry.” arguably is a retelling of the formula without being cliche.

    There’s always some subjectivity in that.

  • #654046

    Anonymous

    Each genre has elements that help define the genre – but that doesn’t make them cliches. And a crutch in writing is something that you don’t really need, but it’s easier to use it than “walking” on your own.

  • #654047

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    Each genre has elements that help define the genre – but that doesn’t make them cliches. And a crutch in writing is something that you don’t really need, but it’s easier to use it than “walking” on your own.

    Could you give a specific example illustrating that?
    Tnx.

  • #654048

    Anonymous
    sammy2 wrote:
    ostarella wrote:
    Each genre has elements that help define the genre – but that doesn’t make them cliches. And a crutch in writing is something that you don’t really need, but it’s easier to use it than “walking” on your own.

    Could you give a specific example illustrating that?
    Tnx.

    Of the genre thing or the crutch thing? 😉

    Okay, an example of a crutch is what we were talking about earlier, using adverbs with ‘said’ instead of working on the context so the readers would understand how it’s said instead of having to be told. Same thing with using substitutes for ‘said’ – laughed, snorted, growled, etc. An occasional/rare use is not a crutch – constant use is.

    Even with the genre elements – following them too closely, too routinely, becomes the crutch. The author follows the formula so closely they end up with a ‘standard’ book, without surprises, without anything unique. On the other hand, using the formula to your own ends gives the reader a surprise, an enjoyable surprise hopefully, and makes them look forward to your next book.

  • #654049

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    sammy2 wrote:
    ostarella wrote:
    Each genre has elements that help define the genre – but that doesn’t make them cliches. And a crutch in writing is something that you don’t really need, but it’s easier to use it than “walking” on your own.

    Could you give a specific example illustrating that?
    Tnx.

    Of the genre thing or the crutch thing? 😉

    Okay, an example of a crutch is what we were talking about earlier, using adverbs with ‘said’ instead of working on the context so the readers would understand how it’s said instead of having to be told. Same thing with using substitutes for ‘said’ – laughed, snorted, growled, etc. An occasional/rare use is not a crutch – constant use is.

    Even with the genre elements – following them too closely, too routinely, becomes the crutch. The author follows the formula so closely they end up with a ‘standard’ book, without surprises, without anything unique. On the other hand, using the formula to your own ends gives the reader a surprise, an enjoyable surprise hopefully, and makes them look forward to your next book.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • #654050

    GidgetLindley8
    Participant

    wdarcy wrote:
    > Yes, avoid those adverbs in dialogue tags, or you’ll create
    > “Swifties” (named after the series of boys’ books about Tom
    > Swift, which are replete with them). “I feel warm,” she said
    > heatedly. “Come on, let’s go faster!” he said quickly. That
    > sort of thing.
    >
    > Something I learned from Steven James: In writing dialogue tags, avoid the
    > “ing” and “as” syndrome.
    >
    > “I don’t understand this,” he said, scratching his head. Or:
    > “I don’t understand this,” he said, as he scratched his head.
    >
    > Instead write this:
    >
    > He scratched his head. “I don’t understand this.”
    >
    > According to Steven, the syndrome is distracting and sophomoric, and it’s
    > the default choice of too many writers.
    >
    > –Warren

    Now I kind of want to read some Tom Swift stories. 🙂

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