Side Notes

Side Notes

Side Notes

I’ve been gone for a bit, sorry about that. There was a reason and I do have some news I think is fantastic. I have finished my newest book and have begun the primary revision. I’m very excited about this story and can’t wait to share some information.  I’ll be composing a tentative query letter for it soon and I’ll post about that process as I’ve done a whole bunch more research on the subject.

For me, the writing process for this story became very involved. My writing time is limited (Full-time job + a family + summer = busy me) so when it came to writing I was deeply engrossed in the new story.

While I write, I often have thoughts or ideas. Whether they are yet to come or they are things to add or even things to change. I try not to go back while I’m in ‘writing’ mode and change things. For one, it throws off my groove and for two; I might change my mind before the story is done.

So, what do I do about the little or big ideas that pop into my brain? I make notes. I keep a pad of paper at my desk at all times. The more detail the better, I write down the idea and my reasoning. There is nothing worse than going back to see “Make the tablet a pen and pad of paper.”  If I forget why or the significance I could make mistakes in the change or lose the great idea because of lack of explanation or supportive information.

Here are some things I might jot down

  • A clever line or two of dialogue

  • A foreshadow for something ie. “Go back and foreshadow Belfast knowing about Lex”

  • Change in character name, behavior, quirk or appearance

  • A reminder to go back and add a quirk to a character

  • Location change idea

  • Add a character in

  • Notes to remind me to check whether or time of year ie. when is sunset in July or when do daisies bloom.

  • Add an interaction or moment in

(I just looked at my actual notes for examples)

Anything that is added after the fact, a quirk, character or moment are things that come to mind because of a new idea. I’ll be writing along and a clever scenario pops into mind. However, to make it work I’d have to change a conversation. I write a detailed note and either go back when I’m done writing or at least done writing the new scene.

Nothing in my story is set in stone until I’m certain I’m done with it. I add stuff all the time, just as long as it’s relevant to the story or scenario.

A word of caution, anything added needs to fit. Magically appearing or disappearing objects or people are frustrating, confusing and a clear indication of a novice or careless writer. If I change something, I go through with a fine-tooth comb to make sure all references or moments surrounding the change make sense.

My notes can get messy; sometimes I’ll make a spreadsheet or word document to keep track of the more important ones. Alternatively, I’ll transfer the handwritten notes to a word file so I can actually read them. (Yes, I have chicken scratch handwriting)

This pad of paper I use for side notes is often written on just after a shower or just before I fall asleep. It’s not the best time to have inspiration strike, but I’ve written many notes to the light of my wireless mouse so I don’t wake anybody by turning a light on.

My advice about Side Notes

Whether it’s a novel, poem, blog post or song, keep a pad of paper handy for when inspiration strikes. I recommend making notes or explanations on the notes so they don’t get forgotten or misunderstood later.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Tentative

Dashing Dashes

This will be the last re-post as my Vacation time winds down.  I picked this one at random, for no reason whatsoever.

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the Envelope. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take the Quill Company proofs.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case, she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption, not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Quill

What Did You Mean? – Re-blog

Still in vacation mode and don’t want to be tethered to my computer. Therefore I’m sharing another blog that was posted a long time ago. Don’t worry my people watching opportunities have given me some ideas for new posts that I will write and post soon.

What Did You Mean?

I have read stories and books that miss one very important thing. Setting up an emotionally charged statement before it happens.  When I’m reading dialogue it can be frustrating to get to the end of a sentence only to discover my inner-voice was way off on the tone that the character was meant to be speaking in. I call this emotional tone delay. I read said dialogue, find out the tone I imagined was wrong then have to either read it or mentally replay it in the correct tone.  If it happens too often I like the book less and less and less.

How it sounds in my head as the writer isn’t necessarily the way it sounds in the readers. This is why it is so important to create a welcoming world for the reader to jump into. Show them tone and emotion instead of bludgeoning them with a tag.

“Really?” Amber said with excitement.

By putting the tag at the end, what ‘voice’ I read that in was voided. As a reader that can be annoying and then all voices sound out deadpan and the emotion is applied after the fact. It makes for some terrible visualization and fantasy.

Amber grinned and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Really?” 

Sarcasm is often lost in print if I want to convey a tone of voice shows the tone by posturing the character. My rule I’ve adopted from others: Don’t get lazy and tell the tone.

“Really?” Dale said sarcastically.  

Set it up properly so the reader knows it’s sarcasm or tags it with an appropriate action.

Dale inhaled slowly. “Really?” He rolled his eyes.

Creating the tone before the character speaks is important. This can be as long as a paragraph or as short as a few words. Setting the reader up for a smooth transition to the words lets them enjoy the story without having to “re-hear” it in their head before moving on.  So what happens if the set up is the wrong emotion conveying action?

Scott tilted his head to the side. “Really?” 

That could be humor, anger, annoyance, sarcasm or maybe tease. Normally in a story, there would be leading up to a statement like that. But I’ll pretend there isn’t and Scott’s statement is the start of the conversation or scenario. While tilting the head can convey emotion it is often a quirk or habit that without context could mean anything.

Scott crossed his arms, tilted his head to the side with his brow furrowed. “Really?”

Sure it get’s wordy, however, if I really want to show the reader how Scott feels then I will make it work. I might even take the head tilting out unless I have that as Scott’s quirk. I wouldn’t want everyone going around gesturing the same way.

Scott tilted his head to the side as a sly grin spread across his face. “Really?”

Scott’s head tilted to the side as he stifled a snicker. “Really?”

Scott’s fist slammed on the table then he tilted his head. “Really?”

If the tone isn’t foreshadowed by action before the statement, the reader will likely project their own emotion into it. That may or may not work out and may or may not put them off the story which in turn will mean devastation for the review and reader’s opinion of the story and author.  I can write words and have my own idea how they are supposed to sound, but if I don’t let the reader in on it, then I’ve let them down.

My advice about acting out emotion.
I do this to keep the reader engaged, I highly recommend it. Don’t let the reader decide what ‘vocal’ tone the characters are using, show them so the meaning behind the word isn’t lost. After all, you don’t want a character to move when you mean swoon. 

-Sheryl

A post or two from a while back.

Squirrelly concentration at best

Time to take out the trash

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Tether

♀♂♀♀♂♀ Gender Specifics ♀♂♀♀♂♀

There is a ‘grammar’ check that comes up from time to time when I write. When I have dialogue such as this:  “Hey guy’s, check this out.”  Guy’s is underlined in blue and I get the ‘Gender Specific Dialogue message’.

The same goes for actress or stewardess or any other gender specific word. In the narrative, it is better to omit these classifying words that would by today’s standards be sexist or insulting, such as chick or guy or dude. Since people still talk this way they are acceptable in dialogue(IMO) as long as it’s character driven and not author driven. By that, I mean a single character’s way of speaking and not every character’s way of speaking.

So I did some digging and reading and found out that there is a lot to it. Being a gender specific species we naturally gravitated toward gender-specific activities, likes, interests, and behaviors etc. Thus as jobs, careers, roles, and positions within society were created unequally; they were predominantly occupied by men. It is these traditional male roles that were divided by gender titles when women entered the workforce.

These clear dividers were created to keep the gender identity of the person within the job clear. This is where feminism and women’s rights came into play.

As roles of women changed in society to become less gender-linear, the terminology used for women’s positions in society started changing. They are either reverting back to the male title or getting a new neutral one all of their own.

With the modern world, such differentiations are less and less acceptable.  So when a divide was created in, for example, a job title, are reverted back to the male referent once feminism came into play. Some titles stayed the same across the gender as well

Titles with clear gender specific language
Male  Female Gender neutral
Actor Actress Actor
Steward Stewardess Flight Attendant
Waiter Waitress Server
Hero Heroine Hero
Policeman Policewoman Police officer
Barman Barmaid Bartender
Headmaster Headmistress Headteacher
Manager Managress Manager
Mailman Mailwoman Mailperson
Salesman Saleswoman Clerk/ salesperson
Fireman Firewoman Firefighter
Barber Hairdresser Hairdresser/hair stylist

A lot fo the gender specific’s are noted by the ‘man’ or ‘woman’ at the end.

Titles that are gender neutral
Male  Female Gender neutral
Pilot Pilot Pilot
Author Author Author
Lawyer Laywer Lawyer
Teacher Teacher Teacher
Doctor Doctor Doctor
Chef Chef Chef
Titles that were typically female but now gender neutral
Male  Female Gender neutral
  Nurse Nurse
Stay at home wife Homemaker
Nanny Nanny/childcare provider
Secretary Secretary or Receptionist

In order to illustrate how a gender non-specific noun is used, I’ll give some examples using gender-neutral nouns and gender specific pronouns:

When I approached the police officer she smiled a friendly greeting.

I dropped my son off at the daycare, he is so good with the kids.

The sales clerk took my order; he gave me a discount I wasn’t expecting.

My doctor said she is pleased with my progress.

The manager said she wouldn’t meddle in my business, she lied. 

See? They all sound just fine without the gender-specific job title.

This can be a touchy subject because as humans, we all have different ideas, opinions, beliefs, standards, and codes of ethics.  Regardless of the opinion or views on the subject when writing (IMO and general rules I found) it is suggested that using gender specific language in narrative might be viewed as insensitive or unprofessional.

I’ve caught myself making gender specific references because I grew up with them. I do however know better and try to find them and when I do, I find that what I wrote sounds better and more professional. Does that mean I take it out of the dialogue of an old man who doesn’t know better? No. I leave it in when it’s important to the character and their personality/upbringing/beliefs. I’ll have a sexist pig drop comments, names, and job titles on the sly to solidify who they are as a person. (FYI women can be sexist pigs too)

My advice about gender specific language in the narrative.
It might be a good idea to write a better sentence. If we all make this effort it will be a great stride forward for mankind humankind everyone. 

-Sheryl

Other posts

The “What ifs” Of Imagination

“Who’s Talking?”

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved’

Meddle

Unspoken Dialogue

I write in the present day/somewhat future. Technology plays a part of our everyday no matter what we do. Computers, cellphones and anything else you can think of. I talk a lot about dialogue. What about unspoken dialogue? By that, I mean in the form of Text messages and emails or even a hand written note or letter (Yes people still do this).

Once I’ve established your dialogue style, I stick with it. I personally always use “Double” quotations with curly ends (Unless my blog changes it for some reason). Keep this in mind for my how-to-text-in-a-story examples.

I have read numerous books with both texting and emails in them. The presentation or content is obviously up to the writer. I would caution with over doing it however. Too much is a total turn off. A very popular (Though I don’t know why) book series I read had a lot of back and forth emails going on. With every single email, the author included the formal intro, message and the full and complete signature.  The signature was altered each time and was meant to be cute, but after the third one I got bored/annoyed and hated reading them. I do believe there was a significant amount of eye rolling going on.

If you are pursuing professional or traditional publishing, they will have a set standard to which they want this type of text displayed. Don’t worry about it, as long as you keep it clear and as close to what they are looking for.

Here are the rules I personally follow when writing a text or email in a story. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, feel free to let me know what yours might be.

Make sure the dialogue stands out from regular text. (Quotation marks)
Use this in place of something happening – the ‘review’ type dialogue
Keep the font size of the text the same as the regular text. 12pt is industry standard.
Keep the text from blending into the narrative
Avoid being overly repetitive (Don’t forget dialogue/conversation counts rambling sucks)
Use Italics
Treat it like dialogue
Identify the sender of the message
Use the alternate quotation marks for texts (I’ll couple this with italic)
Indent from regular text(I don’t always bother it’s not necessary)
Dialogue tags and proper lead ups to identify the text/email

Alternate fonts can be used. However, the industry standard (North America) is Garamond or Times New Roman. Alternate fonts may stand out but may not be the best choice. (Publishers will decide ultimately anyway)
It can make it narrative if writing in first person or it can leave it out and hint at it.

Example time.

Amber glanced at the screen to read the text from Dale.
Running late.
She replied. ‘CU soon.

“Sorry I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone.
           Running late
She sighed after she read the message from Dale.

“Sorry Scott I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone. “Looks like Dale’s going to be late. He didn’t say why.”

I looked down at my phone as it chimed indicating I had a text. Dale’s going to be late again and as usual, he didn’t say why.

Amber looked at the screen waiting for the response from Dale. When it chimed she nearly dropped it.
      Running late.
“Ugh be more specific.” She muttered as she replied.
      How long?

I simply prefer the look of italic as an identifier.

Emails are different, they definitely need a lead up and introduction.(nobody reads an email before seeing who it’s from.) As I mentioned before they really do need to have a purpose to the story. Without purpose they may come across as lame or filler. IMO.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale. 

From: Dale@CliftonInc.com
To: Amber@CliftonInc.com
Subject: Today
Urgent

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. By the way, they look good. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

Sincerely,
Dale Engleheart
Design & Revision Department Supervisor
Clifton Advertising & Design Inc.
Phone: 1-800-555-1234
Fax: 515-555-1235
-It’s not in the design if it’s not in the designer. – Anonymous

Now imagine a string of emails and every single one had that introduction, signature and sign off? Ugh. Talk about adding filler to bump up word count. It can look like this, everyone knows what email looks like.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale.

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. They look good by the way. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

-Dale

If I feel the need to add the signature etc, then I’ll do so, it’s not a rule or anything either way. If I felt the need to add it I might, on the first one… Or the first of the that particular string of them, then never again.

My advice about nonverbal dialogue.
Whatever way you decide to identify nonverbal dialogue from regular dialogue, make sure to keep it consistent. Keep an example or your rules for this easy to access so if you go eight chapters without a text you can reference it to keep it in the same style.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue posts

Hold your tongue!

Creative Dialogue Tags

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Pursue

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the printout. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take it.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Eclipses of Ellipses…

One of my favorite ‘fun to read’ authors uses dashes and ellipses spot on. She’s the one I emulate when I think of writing dialogue and structuring it correctly.

When we speak we pause, break, hum and haw, um and ah and very often we trail off just before or even at the end of a sentence.  Dialogue would be stiff and dull if we didn’t include these verbal patterns or quirks. When it comes to characters and how they speak I am careful to make sure they are different in some way. None of my characters are identical, sometimes they become similar but not identical. It’s important to know how to give them particular speech mannerisms in written word.

For today’s topic, I’m talking about the habit or event of trailing off during or at the end of a sentence. Different than a pause it’s more like a hesitant break or hesitant ending. To express this in writing we use Ellipses.

So what are Ellipses they and how do I use them?

Ellipses… Three (Yes only three and always three) consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out. Three dots with no spaces between the last letter of the word, nor in-between them.

When used in dialogue it’s as if someone is lost in thought, thinking, about to Eureka, disheartened, forgetful, afraid to finish, hinting at the suggestion and so on. They are trailing off…

“That sounds…” Amber grimaced and shook her head gently.

Or

“Hey Dale, I wanted to ask you…” Amber looked away a flush rising to her cheeks.

Ellipses are great for characters that don’t know how to finish a sentence, don’t want to or don’t know how to. I probably use these too much. There is a point in my revision process where I will plunk the three consecutive dots into the ‘find’ feature of *word and seek-and-destroy any superfluous ellipses. I would hate for my readers to be bogged down by what I call Eclipses of ellipses… Too many too often.  I have been known to use this manner of ‘speaking’ as a particular quirk of a character. If I do that, I avoid other characters trailing off or fading out as they talk.

Outside of dialogue, in the narrative, ellipses are also used to suggest time is about to pass but isn’t quite worthy of page time. This used to omit a section of time that needs to be pointed out but not actually addressed in the story. I don’t actually use this form in my writing often.

Amber walked swiftly out of the office. Tomorrow would be a better day, but for now, she would go home and think about what happened and what she could do about it…

I have seen authors use these omission ellipses to re-introduce back from the omitted section. This is not something I would do often, if at all.

Amber walked swiftly out of the office. Tomorrow would be a better day, but for now, she would go home and think about what happened and what she could do about it…

… The walk to work was brisk. With a resolution to her predicament, Amber’s heels clicked with confidence. (The paragraph would continue on from here.)

I would probably use a chapter break instead of ellipses in this fashion unless there wasn’t enough content to warrant it. For the most part, I use ellipses in dialogue or to end a suggestive bit of narrative. Perhaps a cliff-hanger.

My advice about Ellipses.
If used properly they can… bring a certain tone or voice to a character or situation. As with all things, too much of a good thing…

-Sheryl

Other punctuation posts

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

Running off with Run-on’s

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
None

“Who’s Talking?”

I’m continuing on my dialogue punctuation quest. My goal is to hopefully see less of these simple, yet easy to make errors. Ones I know I myself have done in my typing haste, but hopefully catch them when editing and revising. I’d like to remind you that I’m not at all a professional, I never profess to be. I’m just me, a writer on the quest to have my books published. The fact that I even say books (As in plural) is amazing to me. Along the way, I’ve had to research and learn and discover new things in all aspects of writing, editing, revising and the quest to land a Literary agent and hopefully a publishing contract. Through this, I try to read and explore things, subjects and styles I’ve never tried or learned before.

I certainly hope my dear followers/readers don’t feel belittled by my tips and advice. I figure if the information/reminder/lesson is good for me, then it’s likely to be helpful to others.

Now on to today’s topic. Multiple lines of dialogue. Yup, generally when people talk there is more than one person participating. Unless you’re crazy like I am and talk to yourself. “Say what?” Oh boy I have some interesting conversations with me.

When writing dialogue (My favourite subject) Always start a new paragraph for a new speaker. This keeps the text easy to read and follow. It is crazy kinds of frustrating to have no idea who’s speaking or to have to sift through the dialogue to figure out who’s talking.

Example time:

Incorrect:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back. “Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t wake up already knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly. Dale hugged her tight.
“That’s a relief.” She squeezed back. “I’m so happy.” He said.

Oh my… What? Yes, believe it or not I’ve slogged through dialogue like this. What happens? I stop reading after cringing and becoming frustrated. This rule applies even if one of the speakers doesn’t speak.

Correct:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back.

“Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t already wake up knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”

She squeezed back.

“I’m so happy.” He said.

OR (Single or double spaced is a personal preference. But the industry standard is double) If you go single, it’s very important to make sure each character starts talking on their own line.

Correct:
“Really good today. Didn’t barf once and I don’t feel sick at all.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”
She squeezed back.
“I’m so happy.” He said.

That was a great deal easier to read and understand who says what and how.

Dialogue doesn’t have to be hard, and as always it should have a point and not just be pointless conversation. People don’t want to read that, they can just go to work/school/home and live it… sigh. Readers want the juicy bits, the parts that carry and take the story forward. The parts that deliver the goods and not the stuff that drives a word count up for the sake of it.

My advice about Paragraphing Dialogue.
Um… you sort of have to so the readers can tell who’s talking. Well I suppose you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but don’t be surprised if the reactions are not what you hoped for.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

Creative Dialogue Tags

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Knackered

“Inside.” — “Not out”.

I recently mentioned in a post on how to use Quotation styles. Basically, pick one and stick with it. “Double” or ‘Single’. Recently I’ve been looking at some basic rules, the roots of writing. (Yes, there are those out there that will disagree. That’s your right to.) These rules are not fly-by-night however. They are tried and true. They are found in most properly edited works.

The one rule break I’m most irked by is not keeping punctuation in it’s proper place regarding dialogue. To me this is important. Once I’ve decided which quotation style to use. (Always double for me) then it’s important to keep the dialogue punctuation with in the quotations.

For example:

Incorrect: “Hey Amber”, Dale smiled. “How’s it going”?
Correct: “Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?

Incorrect:
“This is the worst day ever”! Scott shouted.
“It could be worse”. Dale rolled his eyes. 
“How”
“Losing your car keys and spilling your coffee is minor”. Dale chuckled. “Amber puked on me, slipped in it and cried for an hour this morning”.

Correct:
“This is the worst day ever!” Scott shouted.
“It could be worse.” Dale rolled his eyes.
“How?
“Losing your car keys and spilling your coffee is minor.” Dale chuckled and slapped his knee. “Amber puked on me, slipped in it and cried for an hour this morning.

I don’t enjoy reading dialogue punctuation outside the quotations.  Sure, this happens to me by mistake when I get in a groove and grammar and punctuation take a side line as I hammer away at my keyboard. However, it’s corrected the moment I start editing and revising. (Ideally).

*Amendment to this post. Other countries such as Great Britain use outside punctuation for dialogue. It’s not what I’m familiar with since I’m in North America. Books published from British authors are sometimes converted to the North American standard when published internationally. This blog and all that I write about are based off North American standards.

My advice about Dialogue punctuation.
“Keep it inside the quotation marks.” (Unless your from Great Britain or other countries that keep it on the outside) 

-Sheryl

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Stylish Quotation “.” “.” ‘.’ ‘.’

Writing dialog. I talk about it alllll the time. Why? Because for me it’s important. I love good dialogue. What I don’t love is dialogue that has poor punctuation. There is nothing worse than having your eyes zip along the sentences to trip up on something out of the norm.  Now like all things the following is what I’ve learned about dialogue punctuation. I have read some stories that simply do not follow any of the basic rules or structure and or don’t do it consistently. Any and every book published by a real publishing house has dialogue in it that is easy to read, follow and understand. Why? Because they all follow the same rules. While stepping outside the norm and being creative is amazing, sometimes being too far from the beaten path can detract from the quality and genius of your work.

There is a time for rebellion, IMO, dialogue punctuation is not one of them. It’s honestly painful to read a block of dialog and struggle to decipher it. I shouldn’t have to.

The most simple rule is QUOTATION style. In my blog it seems to always or often use/convert to the straight up and down style quotation marks (That I don’t like). In my actual novels, I choose times new roman or Garamond so that the quotation marks are properly curled into the sentence.

Like this: “Hi.” or ‘Hi.’ or It’s
Not this:  “Hi.” or ‘Hi.’ or It‘s 

More important than direction of the curl, is to be consistent with the style of quotation marks.  Whether you use the “Double” or the ‘Single’ style of quotations is mute. So long as you stay consistent and always mark dialogue with one or the other.  The style used does seem to be geographical. Some countries teach one over the other. There are of course circumstances when I would mix them. I personally use the “Double” quotation style, which means I always, always, always begin and end dialogue with the same “Double” quotation. This is what a simple dialogue would look like.

“Honestly Dale, it was insane.” Amber said.
“How?”
“Oh she was all like, Oh my god, and totally. She had to be fifty at least. Then she took my order and said, like thanks man. I couldn’t help it and laughed, but waited until I got out of the shop.”

While that reads okay, I like to separate ‘mocking’ or quoting dialogue within dialogue. Most often I’ll do this with ‘single’ quotations (use doubles if you prefer marking dialogue with singles) Just be consistent. I also accent mocking or quoting by using italics. This is totally a personal choice. Yes, well-published authors use this too. That is where I learned it.

So done this way it would look like this:

“Honestly Dale, it was insane.” Amber said.
“How?”
“Oh she was all like, ‘Oh my god, and totally.’ She had to be fifty at least. Then she took my order and said, ‘like thanks man.’ I couldn’t help it and laughed, but waited until I got out of the shop.”

It’s most important to be consistent. You can just as easily choose only italics to accent mocking or quoting other dialogue.

Some might say this is superficial, but if you pull out any professionally published book and take a look you’ll see that dialogue quotation consistency is never broken. Being ‘creative’ or ‘fancy’ is unnecessary. Don’t try to separate speakers by mixing quotation styles. If you structure it correctly you shouldn’t need to.

My advice about Quotation style.
A classic little black dress never goes out of style. The same goes for quotation style consistency. If you want to be taken seriously, leave the creative-ego at the door and quote dialogue properly. Show your creativity in the story telling instead.

-Sheryl

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