Dialogue Tags

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longknife

Dialogue Tags

Post by longknife » May 21st, 2010, 1:37 pm

My editor is having problems with the dialogue tags I used in my novel. He’s struggled with the writing style manual and discussions with other editors. I can see his problem and wonder if I, as the author, should make some changes so that such problems are moot.

Here are two examples. Joe is the story teller. The quotes indicate him speaking. But, I wonder if there’s a better way to do this to delete quotes, both single and double.

=====

“Once, long ago,” Joe said, “Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose.”

“’Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief?” ?’ Bat said, for Hawk Chief had not been seen for many days. “Perhaps he is not returning.”


“When Hawk Chief returned several days later, he became angry at Bat for giving such ill-considered advice. He picked Bat up and slung him with full force into a juniper bush.


“Poor Bat hung upside down in the bush, caught by his long, pointy-toed moccasins. He twisted and he turned. However much he struggled, he could not get free.”


With a grin, Joe finished, “And from that time on, bats hang upside down - even when they sleep.”
=====
Possibility?

“Once, long ago,” Joe said, “Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose.”

Joe explained that Bat asked, “’Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief? Hawk Chief has not been seen for many days. Perhaps he is not returning.?

“When Hawk Chief returned several days later, he became angry at Bat for giving such ill-considered advice. He picked Bat up and slung him with full force into a juniper bush.


“Poor Bat hung upside down in the bush, caught by his long, pointy-toed moccasins. He twisted and he turned. However much he struggled, he could not get free.”


With a grin, Joe finished, “And from that time on, bats hang upside down - even when they sleep.”

==========
Next example -

When Ray didn’t say anything more, Joe continued the story.

“Long ago, Killer-of-Enemies vowed to save his people from the terror of monster eagles that roamed the skies and carried off children. Killer-of-Enemies tricked one monster eagle into carrying him up to the eagle nest on the cliff where he killed the monster eagle and its family.”

“Killer-of-Enemies didn't know how to get down from the cliff. Just then, he saw an old woman approaching. It was Old Woman Bat.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out. “’Grandmother, help me. Take me down.” .’

“Old Woman Bat looked all around but didn't see him.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out again,. and again... and again.

“Finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. “’What are you doing here?” ?’ she asked when she reached the top.

“’Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.”.’

“’Climb in my basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat told him.

“Killer of Enemies looked at the burden basket on the old woman's back. Its carrying strap was made of spider's silk.

“’That strap is too fine,” ,’ he said. “’It will break and I shall fall.”.’

“’Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat glared at him “’Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.”.’

“Old Woman Bat clambered down the rock, singing a strange song. Her burden basket swayed wildly from side to side.

“Killer-of-Enemies thought the spider thread would surely break, so he opened his eyes to look.

“As soon as Kill-of-Enemies opened his eyes, he and Old Woman Bat crashed down from the cliff.

“Old Woman Bat landed first and broke her legs.

“Killer-of-Enemies fell on top of her and was safe.

“Old Woman Bat's broken legs soon mended, but from that day on her legs were short.”

=====
Next possibility -

When Ray didn’t say anything more, Joe continued the story.

“Long ago, Killer-of-Enemies vowed to save his people from the terror of monster eagles that roamed the skies and carried off children. Killer-of-Enemies tricked one monster eagle into carrying him up to the eagle nest on the cliff where he killed the monster eagle and its family.”

“Killer-of-Enemies didn't know how to get down from the cliff. Just then, he saw an old woman approaching. It was Old Woman Bat.”

Joe then said that Killer-of-Enemies called out. “Grandmother, help me. Take me down.”

“Old Woman Bat looked all around but didn't see him.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out again,. and again... and again.

Joe told them that finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. “What are you doing here?” she asked when she reached the top.

“Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.”

“Climb in my basket,” Old Woman Bat told him.

“Killer of Enemies looked at the burden basket on the old woman's back. Its carrying strap was made of spider's silk.

“’That strap is too fine,” ,’ he said. “’It will break and I shall fall.”.’

“’Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat glared at him “’Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.”.’

“Old Woman Bat clambered down the rock, singing a strange song. Her burden basket swayed wildly from side to side.

“Killer-of-Enemies thought the spider thread would surely break, so he opened his eyes to look.

“As soon as Kill-of-Enemies opened his eyes, he and Old Woman Bat crashed down from the cliff.

“Old Woman Bat landed first and broke her legs.

“Killer-of-Enemies fell on top of her and was safe.

“Old Woman Bat's broken legs soon mended, but from that day on her legs were short.”

==========
I’m just wonder that by interjecting more in the story within a story I might be able to not get caught up in ‘ versus ‘” and so on.

Thoughts/
Suggestions.
Thanks

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Em!
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Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by Em! » May 21st, 2010, 2:33 pm

I like the first versions of each better, but it looks like you're over-punctuating and there's some confusion in the use of single and double quotes. Here's how I'd set some of the punctuation (though anyone's free to slap me down with their preferred style guide if they'd like).
“’Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief?” ?’ Bat said, for Hawk Chief had not been seen for many days. “Perhaps he is not returning.”
"'Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief?' Bat said, for Hawk Chief had not been seen for many days. 'Perhaps he is not returning.'
“Killer-of-Enemies called out. “’Grandmother, help me. Take me down.” .’
"Killer-of-Enemies called out.'Grandmother, help me. Take me down.'
“Finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. “’What are you doing here?” ?’ she asked when she reached the top.

“’Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.”.’

“’Climb in my basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat told him.
"Finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. 'What are you doing here?' she asked when she reached the top.

"'Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.'

"'Climb in my basket,' Old Woman Bat told him.
“’That strap is too fine,” ,’ he said. “’It will break and I shall fall.”.’

“’Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat glared at him “’Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.”.’
"'That strap is too fine,' he said. 'It will break and I shall fall.'

"'Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,' Old Woman Bat glared at him. 'Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.'


I'm assuming you want to use US-style quotes for all of the above examples. In some countries they might use single quotes where I had doubles, and vice-versa.
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Holly
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Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by Holly » May 21st, 2010, 3:08 pm

I would only use the double quotation mark in the beginning. Once the story begins, I would use a single quotation mark for all the speakers.

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Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by polymath » May 21st, 2010, 3:16 pm

I suspect it's not the dialogue formating that's causing concern and difficulty, rather who's addressing who and in which time and story. I'm sensing the dialogue tags and formating are unsettling and overcomplicating narrative point of view. From the context given, presumably, Joe addresses a story to another person or persons in a frame story, relating a legend from the past to that audience directly in the present time of the frame story.

Simplifying and settling who's addressing who and in which story when, either poses Joe as a covert narrator telling the legend by a transition into the meaning space present of the legend or Joe remains an overt narrator interacting with the audience he addresses in his present. I'm partial to the former. That's the narrative point of view of One Thousand and One NIghts' frame story. The latter poses Joe as a lecturer on a stage addressing an audience and, by de re extension, readers, adding a complicating degree of narrative distance separation between readers and the legend's meaning space.
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Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by GeeGee55 » May 21st, 2010, 9:31 pm

You probably have a couple of options - the goal is clarity and you must use the same formatting throughout the whole manuscript. Have you thought of italics? It could work. This is just an example, you'd want to play with it a bit.
“Once, long ago,” Joe said, “Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose. Coyote's friend, Bat, said Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief? Hawk Chief has not been seen for many days. Perhaps he is not returning? When Hawk Chief returned several days later, he became angry at Bat for giving such ill-considered advice. He picked Bat up and slung him with full force into a juniper bush. Poor Bat hung upside down in the bush, caught by his long, pointy-toed moccasins. He twisted and he turned. However much he struggled, he could not get free.”

With a grin, Joe finished, “And from that time on, bats hang upside down - even when they sleep.”

Next one:

When Ray didn’t say anything more, Joe continued the story.

“Long ago, Killer-of-Enemies vowed to save his people from the terror of monster eagles that roamed the skies and carried off children. Killer-of-Enemies tricked one monster eagle into carrying him up to the eagle nest on the cliff where he killed the monster eagle and its family. Killer-of-Enemies didn't know how to get down from the cliff. Just then, he saw an old woman approaching. It was Old Woman Bat. Killer-of-Enemies called out. 'Grandmother, help me. Take me down.’ Old Woman Bat looked all around but didn't see him. Killer-of-Enemies called out again,. and again... and again. Finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. 'What are you doing here ?’ she asked when she reached the top. Killer-of Enemies said ’Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.’ Old Woman Bat told him, 'Climb in my basket ,’ .
and I got tired of making the formatting changes here, but you get the picture. I think not having so many paragraph breaks would help, then not so many quotation marks would be required. And it all flows as one story in a paragraph, being told by Joe. This may not be correct by the rules of grammar, but I think it would be more clear. Or maybe, you can think of a way of your own from seeing this and other suggestions.“Killer of Enemies looked at the burden basket on the old woman's back. Its carrying strap was made of spider's silk.

“’That strap is too fine,” ,’ he said. “’It will break and I shall fall.”.’

“’Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat glared at him “’Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.”.’

“Old Woman Bat clambered down the rock, singing a strange song. Her burden basket swayed wildly from side to side.

“Killer-of-Enemies thought the spider thread would surely break, so he opened his eyes to look.

“As soon as Kill-of-Enemies opened his eyes, he and Old Woman Bat crashed down from the cliff.

“Old Woman Bat landed first and broke her legs.

“Killer-of-Enemies fell on top of her and was safe.

“Old Woman Bat's broken legs soon mended, but from that day on her legs were short.”

=====
Another option would be to just say when Ray didn't say anymore, Joe continued the story. And, then italicize the whole story in it's own indented segment, separate from the rest of the body of the narrative.

Good luck with finding a solution.

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Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 22nd, 2010, 9:27 am

I agree with polymath: the goal is to clarify who is speaking, and when. That is, to delineate between the present story being told and the speech of characters within that secondary story.

Italics, as suggested above, is one solution. I don't think you need to go that far, though, if that's not your cup of tea. You simply need to reduce the punctuation for clarity, and that means removing the quotation marks on either the present story or the speech within the narrative being related. Both can be done. The key is clarity. Who is speaking?

Example 1: Joe's voice floated on the air like a dream. Once, long ago, Joe said, Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose. "Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief?" Bat said, for Hawk Chief had not been seen for many days. "Perhaps he is not returning."

Example 2: "Once, long ago, Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose. Bat said, Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief? He knew that Hawk Chief had not been seen for many days. Perhaps he is not returning, Bat said. When Hawk Chief returned yada yada yada..."

In the first example you incorporate Joe's words into the voice of the narrator. The opening and a single tag will indicate that these are actually Joe's words, and this way you can leave off the quotation marks around Joe's words. It's a bit like representing thoughts in the Free Indirect Style.

In the second example, Joe's speech has the quotation marks indicating speech, and the rest doesn't. They're all his words. The trick is to rewrite and be able to clarify in the text when the characters are speaking. Joe has to relate these switches in his own words, rather than having them indicated by punctuation.

Hope that's helpful,
Bryan/Ink

lvcabbie wrote:My editor is having problems with the dialogue tags I used in my novel. He’s struggled with the writing style manual and discussions with other editors. I can see his problem and wonder if I, as the author, should make some changes so that such problems are moot.

Here are two examples. Joe is the story teller. The quotes indicate him speaking. But, I wonder if there’s a better way to do this to delete quotes, both single and double.

=====

“Once, long ago,” Joe said, “Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose.”

“’Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief?” ?’ Bat said, for Hawk Chief had not been seen for many days. “Perhaps he is not returning.”


“When Hawk Chief returned several days later, he became angry at Bat for giving such ill-considered advice. He picked Bat up and slung him with full force into a juniper bush.


“Poor Bat hung upside down in the bush, caught by his long, pointy-toed moccasins. He twisted and he turned. However much he struggled, he could not get free.”


With a grin, Joe finished, “And from that time on, bats hang upside down - even when they sleep.”
=====
Possibility?

“Once, long ago,” Joe said, “Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose.”

Joe explained that Bat asked, “’Why not take the wife of Hawk Chief? Hawk Chief has not been seen for many days. Perhaps he is not returning.?

“When Hawk Chief returned several days later, he became angry at Bat for giving such ill-considered advice. He picked Bat up and slung him with full force into a juniper bush.


“Poor Bat hung upside down in the bush, caught by his long, pointy-toed moccasins. He twisted and he turned. However much he struggled, he could not get free.”


With a grin, Joe finished, “And from that time on, bats hang upside down - even when they sleep.”

==========
Next example -

When Ray didn’t say anything more, Joe continued the story.

“Long ago, Killer-of-Enemies vowed to save his people from the terror of monster eagles that roamed the skies and carried off children. Killer-of-Enemies tricked one monster eagle into carrying him up to the eagle nest on the cliff where he killed the monster eagle and its family.”

“Killer-of-Enemies didn't know how to get down from the cliff. Just then, he saw an old woman approaching. It was Old Woman Bat.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out. “’Grandmother, help me. Take me down.” .’

“Old Woman Bat looked all around but didn't see him.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out again,. and again... and again.

“Finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. “’What are you doing here?” ?’ she asked when she reached the top.

“’Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.”.’

“’Climb in my basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat told him.

“Killer of Enemies looked at the burden basket on the old woman's back. Its carrying strap was made of spider's silk.

“’That strap is too fine,” ,’ he said. “’It will break and I shall fall.”.’

“’Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat glared at him “’Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.”.’

“Old Woman Bat clambered down the rock, singing a strange song. Her burden basket swayed wildly from side to side.

“Killer-of-Enemies thought the spider thread would surely break, so he opened his eyes to look.

“As soon as Kill-of-Enemies opened his eyes, he and Old Woman Bat crashed down from the cliff.

“Old Woman Bat landed first and broke her legs.

“Killer-of-Enemies fell on top of her and was safe.

“Old Woman Bat's broken legs soon mended, but from that day on her legs were short.”

=====
Next possibility -

When Ray didn’t say anything more, Joe continued the story.

“Long ago, Killer-of-Enemies vowed to save his people from the terror of monster eagles that roamed the skies and carried off children. Killer-of-Enemies tricked one monster eagle into carrying him up to the eagle nest on the cliff where he killed the monster eagle and its family.”

“Killer-of-Enemies didn't know how to get down from the cliff. Just then, he saw an old woman approaching. It was Old Woman Bat.”

Joe then said that Killer-of-Enemies called out. “Grandmother, help me. Take me down.”

“Old Woman Bat looked all around but didn't see him.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out again,. and again... and again.

Joe told them that finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. “What are you doing here?” she asked when she reached the top.

“Monster Eagle carried me up here. Please take me down.”

“Climb in my basket,” Old Woman Bat told him.

“Killer of Enemies looked at the burden basket on the old woman's back. Its carrying strap was made of spider's silk.

“’That strap is too fine,” ,’ he said. “’It will break and I shall fall.”.’

“’Nonsense! I've carried a bighorn sheep in this basket,” ,’ Old Woman Bat glared at him “’Get in and close your eyes. If you look, we will fall.”.’

“Old Woman Bat clambered down the rock, singing a strange song. Her burden basket swayed wildly from side to side.

“Killer-of-Enemies thought the spider thread would surely break, so he opened his eyes to look.

“As soon as Kill-of-Enemies opened his eyes, he and Old Woman Bat crashed down from the cliff.

“Old Woman Bat landed first and broke her legs.

“Killer-of-Enemies fell on top of her and was safe.

“Old Woman Bat's broken legs soon mended, but from that day on her legs were short.”

==========
I’m just wonder that by interjecting more in the story within a story I might be able to not get caught up in ‘ versus ‘” and so on.

Thoughts/
Suggestions.
Thanks
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

longknife

Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by longknife » May 22nd, 2010, 10:36 am

Thanks everybody for the comments

longknife

Re: Dialogue Tags

Post by longknife » May 23rd, 2010, 12:09 pm

Thanks to all for your input. I sent the following to my editor and he liked them.

Here’s the first one -

“Once, long ago,” Joe said, “Coyote decided to take a wife but didn't know whom to choose. Bat came along and asked Coyote why he did not take the wife of Hawk Chief who had not been seen for many days. Bat indicated that perhaps Hawk Chief was not returning.

“Hawk Chief returned several days later, angry that Bat had given such ill-considered advice. He picked up Bat and slung him with full force into a juniper bush. Poor Bat hung upside down in the bush, caught by his long pointy-toes moccasins. He twisted and turned and, however much he struggles, he could not get free.”

With a grin, Joe finished, “And from that time on, bats hang upside down - even when they sleep.”

And, here’s the second

“This one’s from the Chiricahua Apache,” Joe said. “I’m sure you’ve heard of them. Cochise was one.” Joe’s eyes opened slightly as he saw a hint of recognition in Ray’s eye. “Something wrong?” he asked.

Ray looked at him and smiled. “Nah, nothing. Just that the name sounded kinda personal for a moment.”

When Ray didn’t say anything more, Joe continued the story.

“Long ago, Killer-of-Enemies vowed to save his people from the terror of monster eagles that roamed the skies and carried off children. Killer-of-Enemies tricked one monster eagle into carrying him up to the eagle nest on the cliff where he killed the monster eagle and its family. Killer-of-Enemies didn't know how to get down from the cliff. Just then, he saw an old woman approaching. It was Old Woman Bat.

“Killer-of-Enemies called out. ‘Grandmother, help me. Take me down.’

“Old Woman Bat looked all around but didn't see him so Killer-of-Enemies called out again . . .and again . . . and again.

“Finally, Old Woman Bat saw him high in the eagle's nest. She came over to the cliff and began to climb. When she reached the top, she asked Killer-of-Enemies what he was doing there. He responded that Monster Eagle had carried him up there and begged Old Woman Bat to take him down.

Old Woman Bat told him. To get in her basked. Killer of Enemies looked at the burden basket on the old woman's back and saw its carrying strap was made of spider's silk. He complained that the strap was too fine and that it could break and he would fall.

Old Woman Bat glared at him and told him he was talking nonsense. She said that she had carried bighorn sheep in the basket and for him to get in and close his eyes. ‘If you look, we will fall,’ she told him. Old Woman Bat clambered down the rock, singing a strange song. Her burden basket swayed wildly from side to side.

“Killer-of-Enemies thought the spider thread would surely break, so he opened his eyes to look. As soon as Kill-of-Enemies opened his eyes, he and Old Woman Bat crashed down from the cliff.

“Old Woman Bat landed first and broke her legs.

“Killer-of-Enemies fell on top of her and was safe.

“Old Woman Bat's broken legs soon mended, but from that day on her legs were short.”

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