Earlier this morning I had reason to look for this post from December, 2016, in which I talked about dialogue and reactions. In it, I said I’d be writing another one “soon(ish)” about when dialogue needs to start on a new line.
It’s soon(ish) now. (Hey, it hasn’t been a year yet. That has to count for something, right?)
I’m still seeing the thing that caused me to say this post was needed. No surprise there; the way teachers address dialogue in standard English classes (from, let’s say, middle school on through college) is sorely lacking in nuance and clarity, from my experience. They drill this information into students’ heads: “Always begin dialogue on a new line.” The missing part is “from a new speaker.” The way dialogue appears on the page is a cue to the readers about who’s talking. Every new line indicates a change of speaker.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Continue reading “Formatting dialogue: when do you need a new line?”
I have an inordinate fondness for–some might say obsession with–intrusions.
Not physical ones. I don’t get into breaking down doors or smashing windows. I’m not talking B&E here. I mean written ones, like the one in the first sentence in this post. That clause in the parentheses is an intrusion. Why did I choose em dashes over parentheses? Continue reading “Intrusions: ems or parens?”
Let’s talk about question marks for a little bit. (Okay, more accurately I’ll write and you can read.)
I’ll bet you learned in school that you put a question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence. Take a look at the title of this post. Is that really a question? Is it asking a question? Continue reading “He wondered if he was right?”
Here’s a link to the ACES chat I was asked to lead this past week.
Here’s another one to a post about register from a couple of years ago, for further reading.
And another one, very short, with a different angle on register.
You want more? Google is your friend. That’s how I do it.
“He began to walk across the room.”
“She started to answer.”
Why do I need to know this? Why can’t it just say “He walked” and “She answered”?
This is one of the most common issues I see in my fiction editing work. Characters are forever starting and beginning things they could, quite honestly, just do. So, when does beginning matter? Continue reading “When beginning matters”