Questions tagged [dialogue]

Questions about authored conversations between two or more people as found in books, plays, or films. Please use the "conversations" tag for natural spoken conversations

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92
votes
4answers
221k views

Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist?

The answer to this question clearly explains the standard rule that when you have multiple quoted paragraphs, each new paragraph starts with an opening quotation mark, but only the final quoted ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

Can a statement be “hissed” without any sibilants?

Is using hissed as a replacement for said technically acceptable in dialogue without the presence of any sibilants? "You fool!" she hissed. I understand that hissed could be used to indicate a ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

Stealing the topic from another person when he or she is going to tell you something

When someone is starting to tell you something from his or her life, some persons are immediately interrupting and starting to talk about the same topic, but from their own perspective instead. ...
15
votes
1answer
33k views

How should I use quotation marks in sections of multiline dialogue?

If I want to introduce a “pause” between lines of dialogue from the same person by inserting a spacing line, how should I use the quotation marks correctly to indicate continued dialogue? I really don’...
13
votes
5answers
6k views

Did they say “hand job” in the 1800s?

Did they say "hand job" in the 1800s? I was watching an episode of Deadwood, and they just said it. For example, from episode 6 "Plague": (Al enters the back room, Dolly is scrunched up on the ...
13
votes
5answers
934 views

Was the BrEng term “coloured” derogatory in the 1970s?

SAM Look... I owe it to myself to say this to you, okay? Leave Tony Crane. Just go far away from him. He's gonna ask you to marry him and he's gonna make you a business partner. EVE Is that ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

The meaning of a short excerpt of dialog from the “La-La Land” movie [closed]

I came across the following dialog while watching La-La Land in English with subtitles: Mia: How’d you get on the lot? Seb: I basically just hauled ass past the guard gates. I think I have 20 ...
7
votes
4answers
723 views

What does an ellipsis followed by an exclamation mean?

I'm confused about how to use "...!" in writing. Currently, I'm writing a fiction story with a character who has been critically injured. I got this question while typing out this: "I won't die yet....
6
votes
2answers
991 views

Differentiating comma/period use in mid-dialogue

Best shown by example: (From Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) "But I still felt bad," she went on. "So I dragged myself all the way to your house later--like an idiot. "Don't worry," I ...
6
votes
2answers
412 views

Dramatic hijacking of a sentence

A common trope in movies. What's it called? Person A: The President was a brilliant man! A truly one-of-a-kind-- Person B: killer, who used his ruthless abandon to get ahead!
6
votes
3answers
497 views

Do I put a comma or a period after a mid-quote dialog tag?

Okay, so I have this sentence. "He's where?" Suzy demanded "And what happened to your rig? The whole front is bashed in!" As you can see, I did not put in a comma or a period after demanded ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Ironic phrase like Russian’s “no, didn’t hear”

Here’s a bit of dialogue which I literally translated from Russian: ― You should get a girlfriend! ― Girlfriend? Didn’t hear. . . . The idea of the answer is to self-ironically point out ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

About using “said” in dialogue

I want to know if there are any rules regarding using said before or after a name. For example, which of the following is correct? "I am going to the bank," said John. "I am going to the ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

Why do some people say “My name is Doctor / Dr. X” instead of “I'm Doctor / Dr. X”?

I'm Portuguese and I live in Portugal. Here it's (still) common to see some people using their academic/professional title in introductions: "Hi, I'm Doctor / Dr. / Eng. X". However, when watching ...
4
votes
3answers
6k views

Is there a difference between “Joe said” and “said Joe”?

Does the subject/verb order make a difference when writing a dialog tag? "The sky is blue," Joe said. "The sky is blue," said Joe. Is one preferable over the other? Does one emphasize the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Comma splices in dialogue

At university, it was drilled into us to avoid comma splices like the plague, but I keep seeing them in all different types of famous, best-selling novels. I read things (all in dialogue, in inverted ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Term for Indirect Dialogue

There are two different types of dialogue I'm aware of, that for the moment I'll refer to as 'direct' dialogue and 'indirect' dialogue. However, I know these terms aren't the correct ones, and it's ...
4
votes
1answer
187 views

What does “two-meal” mean in “There's nothing that could get him away from that two-meal town.”?

It's a quote from the movie "The Godfather II", Tom and Frankie's scene: Frankie: Did my brother go back? Tom: Yeah, don't worry. Frankie: He's ten time tougher than me-- my brother. He's ...
4
votes
1answer
5k views

What is the origin of “uh”, “um”, “erm” and “er”?

This question may be a better fit on linguistics.SE, but it pertains specifically to English fillers. Also, the question may have a more straightforward answer than what I'm expecting. TL;DR: Are ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Capitalizing First Letter of Word in Continuing Dialogue

I have a rather tricky question - I'm a writer, about to send my manuscript off to agents and publishers, and have noticed I have a rather strange writing style, particularly when it comes to dialogue....
3
votes
1answer
106 views

Analysis of following writing pattern

Is there a name for following writing/dialogue pattern? We ride into the future. A future where ... In the world you grew up. A new world with ... It's just a theory. A game theory.
3
votes
1answer
508 views

Who is being referred to in this dialogue from the motion picture “Captain America: The First Avenger?”

There was this scene in the motion picture "Captain America: The First Avenger" where Steve Rogers and Agent Peggy Carter are driving through Brooklyn. The following dialogue ensued: Steve Rogers: ...
3
votes
2answers
647 views

Addressing an unmarried woman, 1930s

How should a character address an unmarried woman in conversation in the 1930s: would they use Mrs., Miss, or Ms? Example: "Good evening, Ms. Smith."
3
votes
1answer
347 views

Dialogue responding to Narration

What is it called, or how would you describe, when a character utters a line of dialogue in response to information contained within the preceding narrative? Example: At sunrise Thelma peered ...
3
votes
3answers
121 views

Quotation marks and types of dialogue

I'm editing the autobiography of a German-American woman who grew up during Hitler's reign. There are several instances where she uses quotation marks in a way that I'm not sure is correct. 1. Life ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

How should I format whispered dialog?

How do would you write out character whispering in a narrative story, would you use italics, parantheses, maybe dependent on variety of styles?
3
votes
1answer
3k views

onomatopoeia for taking a deep breath before speaking

I'm writing a comic, and a character is about to ask another character for help, but it's taken her a lot of effort to be able to ask for help. So, before she finally asks she takes a deep breath and ...
3
votes
1answer
297 views

When not to use a comma before dialogue

I'm struggling with when to omit the comma before dialogue (as well as when to use capitals) in fiction writing. My understanding is that you would omit the comma before/after something like "he says" ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“you” in spoken, quoted dialogue

My partner and I have been having a debate about the proper way of relating dialogue in spoken English. Our problem is as follows: It often happens in conversation that one wishes to relate a ...
3
votes
1answer
409 views

simultaneous dialogue [closed]

[[The question has been edited in an attempt to address the reason it was originally put on hold.]] Suppose that several individuals are speaking. There are two conversations occurring at once in the ...
3
votes
2answers
331 views

How to punctuate spoken dialog with multiple levels of nested clauses?

I'm trying to do an audio transcription (for fun—I'm a complete amateur at this) and struggling with how to punctuate this part. Could anyone please help? We've designed this around the functions of ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Does the word “brownie” have the same implication as the N-Word?

I was watching the latest episodes of The X-Files a couple of weeks ago and in one of the episode a middle aged white man driving down the road in Texas stares at a Mid Eastern/Asian guy at a traffic ...
2
votes
3answers
11k views

When to put a comma after an ellipsis in dialogue [closed]

Having read a style guide recently, I was under the impression that you don't add commas after the ellipsis when the ellipsis indications pauses or thoughts trailing off, followed by "he says" or the ...
2
votes
3answers
749 views

How do you convey that something is said slowly in written dialogue?

I am writing a dialogue and I want a word to be said slowly so it is clarified. The dialogue goes like this "What's this?" "It's a Bellis perennis." "What?" "Bellis perennis." (I want this to be ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Is the second part of dialogue capitalized or not?

i.e. "It is important," his mother replied, "(a/A)nd we will all have a great time."
2
votes
1answer
64 views

How do I clarify to readers that the bolded dialogue question is a rhetorical question?

Two characters, Scythe Master and Claudia, are having a conversation in this book I'm translating. The first speaker is Scythe. (Bolded part is what I'm 87% sure is a rhetorical question, based on ...
2
votes
2answers
936 views

Help me make sense of this dialogue

Algernon. Oh! . . . by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreman and Mr. Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been ...
2
votes
1answer
879 views

What do the parentheses inside quotation marks mean in this Dickens quote?

Miss Havisham had seen him as soon as I, and was (like everybody else) afraid of him. She made a strong attempt to compose herself, and stammered that he was as punctual as ever. "As punctual as ...
2
votes
1answer
22k views

How is “but of course” different to just “of course”?

I've seen in writing and on screen the phrase "but of course" used as a stand alone sentence. If one were to substitute just "of course" would the meaning change?
2
votes
1answer
152 views

Can you end a multi-sentence quotation with a comma?

This is correct: "Rats," he said. But this looks wrong to me: "I left the oven on. Rats," he said. I can't find any rules about whether you can end a quotation with a comma when there are periods ...
2
votes
2answers
29 views

Help with dialogue tags! [closed]

Should the sentence be: "What is this?" The man demanded. OR "What is this?" The man said demandingly. I was under the impression that you needed to have 'said' in the sentence for it to be proper. ...
2
votes
0answers
89 views

Why do we structure dialogue/direct speech the way that we do?

I hate how we format dialogue. I believe convention has gotten too heavy and we need to think a little more about logic. That being said, my question, to be more specific, is asking about labels for ...
2
votes
1answer
159 views

What is the proper punctuation and structure to place around an action that implies dialogue?

What is the proper punctuation and structure to place around an action that implies dialogue, such as the example below? Double quotations does not seem correct, because the dialogue is unspoken. ...
1
vote
1answer
3k views

Is It Correct to Say ‘I Care Not’?

I was watching the film ‘The Devil’s Violinist’ (which takes place a long time ago) when I noticed the following sentence in a dialogue: I need not and I care not. Here, need is used as a modal ...
1
vote
1answer
200 views

Meaning of 'It is to the feminine as the hug of a bear is to the scratch of--well;--anything with claws.'

"A man's sense of humor is a barbarous and a cruel thing, Miss Innes," he admitted. "It is to the feminine as the hug of a bear is to the scratch of--well;--anything with claws. Is that you, ...
1
vote
2answers
705 views

Using colons and semi-colons in dialogue

I've often heard writers say they don't like using colons and semi-colons in dialogue specifically and I don't often see colons and semi-colons in dialogue, but sometimes it just seems like it's by ...
1
vote
3answers
486 views

How to semi-formally address a senior academic? [closed]

What is a proper way to address a person with the title of a Professor in a way which is less formal than "Dear Professor", but still conveys some respect? For example, suppose I am talking to ...
1
vote
1answer
988 views

Is “conquer fear” the same as “facing fear” in this example

The following dialogue is from the movie Batman Begins: Ra's Al Gul to Bruce Wayne To conquer fear, you must become fear. You must bask in the fear of other men. So when Ra's Al Gul asks Bruce ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Can time breaks be shown using dialogue breaks

By ending a set of quotation marks and starting a new set, can this show a break in time? E.g. "I need to read the letter before I can comment." "It looks like he's determined to come here." Here, ...
1
vote
2answers
826 views

Term for the identification of the person speaking in a dialogue

Consider the following piece of dialogue: Peter: Hello, Mary! How do you do? Mary: Hi, Peter! Fine, and you? What is the term for the part in bold, the specification of who is to speak a ...