Sonny_Summers

help with dialogue punctuation

46 posts in this topic

yeah it does depend on how long your persons conversation is, a short little thing I personally find having a few periods expresses a delay and I think many people can understand that

due to media, like video games that dont have actual dialog, or even subs for anime thats not translated, unless the translation is really bad (Naruto)

There is proper methods that can be used, then there are the accepted ones that people just understand in the context of what they are reading, so you do have some options to play with. 

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7 hours ago, PenStoryTeller said:

The only hard set rule I have with my style is that I always use the OXford Comma. 

Love your rule! I try to keep it myself, but I still slip up frequently. I have a few hard set rules, but most are style-related, more than they are proper-grammar-related. Like descriptive pronouns. I’ve banned those from my writing. Ex: The green-eyed boy. (I used to use them waaaay too much) 

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On 09/07/2017 at 1:51 PM, CloverReef said:

Love your rule! I try to keep it myself, but I still slip up frequently. I have a few hard set rules, but most are style-related, more than they are proper-grammar-related. Like descriptive pronouns. I’ve banned those from my writing. Ex: The green-eyed boy. (I used to use them waaaay too much) 

I can’t see why you wouldn’t. It removes ambiguity In writing you want to make sure you’re only ambigious where you want to be.

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14 hours ago, PenStoryTeller said:

I can’t see why you wouldn’t. It removes ambiguity In writing you want to make sure you’re only ambigious where you want to be.

I agree. However I do try not to use the same kind of descriptions over and over. I have a horror of repeating myself except where I want to for emphasis. I’ve also had to start finding more subtile ways of describing things than using adverbs. Sadly this can make things a bit more wordy. I tend to be a bit limited in how to describe emotions and so-on too because, being unable to see, I’ve very little understanding of things like facial expressions and body language. It can be very hard to find alternatives to… “she said angrily,” “He said excitedly,” “she announced sternly.” I wonder too if sighted people might find my writing sometimes odd, since I tend to write in a way that makes my screen reader read it back most effectively, and that looks right on the braille display. I imagine sometimes that might not quite tally with ease of reading for a sighted person. For instance if I use italics, neither display nore screen reader gives any indication that they’re there. It would be great if I could use something like, “That is *really* bad!” However I’m told by everything I’ve read this isn’t really permissible. Even to me it doesn’t look right in fiction writing so I don’t… except when talking online.

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3 hours ago, Sonny_Summers said:

I agree. However I do try not to use the same kind of descriptions over and over. I have a horror of repeating myself except where I want to for emphasis. I’ve also had to start finding more subtile ways of describing things than using adverbs. Sadly this can make things a bit more wordy. I tend to be a bit limited in how to describe emotions and so-on too because, being unable to see, I’ve very little understanding of things like facial expressions and body language. It can be very hard to find alternatives to… “she said angrily,” “He said excitedly,” “she announced sternly.” I wonder too if sighted people might find my writing sometimes odd, since I tend to write in a way that makes my screen reader read it back most effectively, and that looks right on the braille display. I imagine sometimes that might not quite tally with ease of reading for a sighted person. For instance if I use italics, neither display nore screen reader gives any indication that they’re there. It would be great if I could use something like, “That is *really* bad!” However I’m told by everything I’ve read this isn’t really permissible. Even to me it doesn’t look right in fiction writing so I don’t… except when talking online.

 Adverbs. yeah. Best way around that is to use show don’t tell. And advern is the equivalent of tell. List the things that make the adverb fit and then you’ll be along your way. Of course an adverb’s power is emotional shorthand and a few good adverbs go a long way towards offsetting purple prose.

 

She said angrily → she said levelling a gaze upon him/her that could only be described as murderous.

he said excitedly → he said and though his voice maintained the same dreary tone as it always had there was a new light in his face. Not a smile, nothing so crass as that, but in the tilt of his thin brows to the suddenly livliness in his eyes bespoke of eager anticipation.

Also  try to do away with words like realy, and very. Unless it’s part of someone’s speaking pattern it’s almost always better to use a stronger verb.

That is *really* bad → That’s horrible!

The use of italics is done to show vocal stress. Most often where one would not normally expect it to be.

‘I am going home” versus “I am going home.”

had to use bold because sans-serif doesn’t show italics very well.

 

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Ah, there we are, case in point. Neither braille display nor speech gave me any indication the font… or whatever bold actually is, had changed. :)

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4 minutes ago, Sonny_Summers said:

Ah, there we are, case in point. Neither braille display nor speech gave me any indication the font… or whatever bold actually is, had changed. :)

 basically the difference between the two was  in the scond cas emphasis was plased on the word ‘am’

 

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Now I’ve found a way to make the display mark bold and italics. But something interesting. If I type like that, it shows even the spaces and punctuation as being bold or italic. But it is possible, though very slow and tedious, to turn it off for typing spaces and so-on, to only the letters show up in bold. Which is correct? That is can a space or punctuation be bold or in italics? That might sound weird, well it does but it’s something I’m wondering now, not being able to see what it looks like visually.

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On 7/11/2017 at 7:59 PM, PenStoryTeller said:

I can’t see why you wouldn’t. It removes ambiguity In writing you want to make sure you’re only ambigious where you want to be.

It’s a personal style choice. I find descriptive pronouns like that to be awkward, and that ambiguity best dispelled in action and proper description. 

”His brown eyes swept over the campsite,” for instance, I would prefer if I wanted to slip in a little description. Versus: “The brown eyed boy scanned the campsite,” typically pulls me out of a story when I’m reading. It might be because I used to rely on them so much when I was a budding writer. It’s somehow become one of my pet peeves, whether rational or not lol. 

Edited by CloverReef

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5 hours ago, CloverReef said:

“The brown eyed boy scanned the campsite,”

One personal rule I try to follow is to avoid using “the” to start a sentence, and certainly try to avoid “the” to start a story. 

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11 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

One personal rule I try to follow is to avoid using “the” to start a sentence, and certainly try to avoid “the” to start a story. 

Ah, I like that rule too! Forces yourself to get creative about sentence structure. 

 

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23 hours ago, CloverReef said:

It’s a personal style choice. I find descriptive pronouns like that to be awkward, and that ambiguity best dispelled in action and proper description. 

”His brown eyes swept over the campsite,” for instance, I would prefer if I wanted to slip in a little description. Versus: “The brown eyed boy scanned the campsite,” typically pulls me out of a story when I’m reading. It might be because I used to rely on them so much when I was a budding writer. It’s somehow become one of my pet peeves, whether rational or not lol. 

Not bad. But again, scanned, and swept  convey two different meanings. Annd the sentences convey differing levels of information.

“The borwn-eyed boy scanned the campsite.” Tells me not only that he has brown eyes but also gives me some information as to the subjects age. The word scanned also conveys the idea of a deliberate and detailed inspection or searching.

His brown eyes sweot over the campsite, Is less informative but more pressing or drawing I would say. It feels like you’re in the middle of some sequence of urgent action. We know the gender of the subject and the colour of their eyes but we have no clue as to the age. Swept also conveys a faster motion than scan like a more detailed than a mere glance but faster and less meticulous than scanning.

 

The first gives me the impression of someone mapping out an area while the second gives me the impression that the subject is in a hurry,  that he’s searching or has some as yet unseen final destination for that gaze.

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One thing about rules I keept to heart and it was a bit of advice I got from C. J. CHerryh: “Follow no rule off a cliff.”

Every writer must know when to break or bend the rules. But they must do it with careful thought and deliberation.

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2 hours ago, PenStoryTeller said:

One thing about rules I keept to heart and it was a bit of advice I got from C. J. CHerryh: “Follow no rule off a cliff.”

Every writer must know when to break or bend the rules. But they must do it with careful thought and deliberation.

I agree. Though you and I may not agree on the example I provided, I think we’d both agree that it’s important not to twist yourself in knots to avoid breaking a rule. I like that every writer develops their own rules for style, their own pet peeves. What tends to pull me out of a story very well might pull another person in. I tend to tell the people I beta for, when they’re getting conflicting advice, to always consider where the advice is coming from. Read the stories of the people giving it, when possible, and take the advice from the one they most enjoy or would most like to style themselves after. That you can just pick and choose your style based on what you like is pretty awesome. 

LOL I know, I sound a bit nerdy, maybe even soap boxy about it, but I really do get excited about this kinda thing – seeing styles develop and twist. 

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another thing that ive noticed, is that cross gender writing doesn't always work right.

as a guy, I can know what is supposed to happen in my story, but if the character is female, I do find that what I may have her say, feel or think, doesn't always feel right unless it was a guy.

granted this doesn't apply to EVERY ONE, but you can tell when its a man/woman writing about the other gender at times when things feel …… off.

stereotypes do work and can be true, as unfair as it may or may-not be

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14 hours ago, CloverReef said:

I agree. Though you and I may not agree on the example I provided, I think we’d both agree that it’s important not to twist yourself in knots to avoid breaking a rule. I like that every writer develops their own rules for style, their own pet peeves. What tends to pull me out of a story very well might pull another person in. I tend to tell the people I beta for, when they’re getting conflicting advice, to always consider where the advice is coming from. Read the stories of the people giving it, when possible, and take the advice from the one they most enjoy or would most like to style themselves after. That you can just pick and choose your style based on what you like is pretty awesome. 

LOL I know, I sound a bit nerdy, maybe even soap boxy about it, but I really do get excited about this kinda thing – seeing styles develop and twist. 

The goal of every writer is to write in such away that the words, the punctuation , the sentences themselves become invisible.

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On 14/07/2017 at 5:13 AM, SirGeneralSir said:

another thing that ive noticed, is that cross gender writing doesn't always work right.

as a guy, I can know what is supposed to happen in my story, but if the character is female, I do find that what I may have her say, feel or think, doesn't always feel right unless it was a guy.

granted this doesn't apply to EVERY ONE, but you can tell when its a man/woman writing about the other gender at times when things feel …… off.

stereotypes do work and can be true, as unfair as it may or may-not be

Here’s an interesting quirk. There’s not much difference between women and men in how they react to something. It’s based on upbringing. Write a woman as you would a man and you really won’t go to far astray. It goes in reverse. The thing is when one gender writes a member of the opposite sex they tend to be criticized more harshly since the portrayal gets taken as some sort of political commentary.

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Well, the vast majority of the characters in my writing are female. I don’t really think too much consciously about how I write different characters. I just have the picture of the person in my head, an idea of their personality, and I let that flow out. I guess I unconsciously take cues from other authors, and from people I’ve talked to… both on and offline. Thing about stereotypes in my experience, most of them do apply in a *very* general sense. For instance women are, I would say and in my experience, more empathetic and less emotionally restrained (and that is absolutely *not* a criticism) than men. Of course there are millions of individuals who are the exact opposite, but I would say, even if simply because of upbringing, that this particular rule does apply generally in the majority of cases. Perhaps a good idea could be to start with a stereotype and say… “How can I nuance that, dilute it, twist it, subvert it?” To add the needed realism. Feel free to violently disagree with any or all of this by the way. :D

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I would beg to differ on that actually.

Granted I dont have a lot of experience with it, but I have seen and heard many men and women presented a situation of X and most of the time, men and women react differently.

More about perception, and yes upbringing does play a part in it.

Writing a woman as a man, or man as a woman, I really dont think that works out.

typically, men do tend to be more brash, direct and charge in to take care of the “problem”

with my wife and daughters, I really dont see that in them at all, more analytical, emotion based reactions and actions.

 I guess a good example is Stephenie Meyer, she wrote Twilight, to me as a guy, it felt very obvious that a woman wrote it.

not saying anything against her, but when you read something, I find that there are little things that tend to stand out and that makes dialogue more complicated I find.

hell it could just be me, its how I see it.

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On 7/17/2017 at 6:04 AM, SirGeneralSir said:

I guess a good example is Stephenie Meyer, she wrote Twilight, to me as a guy, it felt very obvious that a woman wrote it.

not saying anything against her, but when you read something, I find that there are little things that tend to stand out and that makes dialogue more complicated I find.

hell it could just be me, its how I see it.

I think it has a lot to do with the writer’s upbringing and world view too. Everyone has a different view of the differences between men and women, (and whether there’s a difference at all) and their writing would reflect that natural bias. Like you said, you have issues writing female characters. I’ve actually come across plenty of female authors whose female characters don’t ring true to life to me, and male authors writing male characters. Of course I’m not talking about the obvious problem of bad characterization/writing here.

One of my favourite M/M books is written by a woman. Oh god were the male characters whiny and emotional and prattled endlessly about philosophy and love and were constantly cuddling and stuff, which kinda struck me as a little (a lot) odd considering they were supposed to be brutal pirates in a situation I have a hard time believing would allow for so much of that stuff. Of course I still read the whole series and besides my Repairman Jack series, it’s the only physical set of books that I will never ever ever give away. (My point is, I think you can get away with being a little out of touch with gender portrayals) 

And I’ve read really well written books by women who have really made believable male character, from the brutally masculine to the gentle bookish and sensitive artist types without making it feel like it was written by a woman. I should probably be commenting on the male author’s portrayal of women, but I think F. Paul Wilson is the only male author I read religiously, so… I don’t like the women in his books lol… Oh! Marsden! I think he’s an Australian writer? Wrote Tomorrow When the War Began  series? Maaan I loooved his portrayal of his female characters. They were so spot on, and at no time did I think “This is definitely a man writing this” 

TL;DR version: I’m a relativist. It depends. 

[Oh and I didn’t mean to imply @SirGeneralSir said all men can’t write women and all women can’t write men. He stated very clearly he was just talking about some. I just loved the topic and got carried away with my thoughts!]

Edited by CloverReef

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LOL

No you are correct that there are some writers of the other gender that do a GREAT!!!! job writing characters of the other gender.

Now that book you mentions about the pirates, the way you described them just calls out to me, woman wrote it in that typical, obvious feminine gay characterization.

Just watch this episode of Johnny Test. 

 I think its harder, because there is that different mind set, that yes some characters will fit that bill perfectly, but others will never fit it, but many people write it that way.

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