Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

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  • #16
    Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

    Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
    Dialogue is dialogue. It is formatted as such.
    This is correct. Remember actors are paid MORE if they have speaking roles, even if it's two words.

    In lieu of speaking parts, you can have a character give a look in place of dialogue. You could have him throw a "I'm sorry" look, or a "WTF?" that's different than saying out loud, "I'm sorry" or literally "what the ****?"
    "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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    • #17
      Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

      (British standard) Officer Doolally pulled out his gun and said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock,". Then he smirked, slowly raised the gun and said: "and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can". Thank heavens, his threat was cut short as a paddle steamer fell on him.
      I think you let a comma get wild here. I don't think you meant to have a comma after Poppycock.

      In any case, the British standard, as far as I know, is to use quotes in a logical way. If the final word is quoted (for humorous effect, or whatever), the full stop or comma goes after the final quotation mark, as in:

      I'm gonna shoot you dead. I'll bet you don't find that "funny", now do you?
      She had the funny last name "Poppycock".

      In the USA, the (illogical) standard would be:

      I'm gonna shoot you dead. I'll bet you don't find that "funny," now do you?
      She had the funny last name "Poppycock."

      However, the British standard (again, as far as I know) puts an entire quotation inside the quotes as in this quote in a novel:

      Beto said, "I'll bet you don't find that funny."

      Beto said, "I'll bet you don't find that 'funny'."

      Of course, the British tradition has been to use a single quotation mark ' for the initial quote, and a double quotation mark " for the secondary quote. Just the opposite of what we do in America. I do not know if this tradition still holds. If so, then the actual practice would look like this:

      Beto said, 'I'll bet you don't find that funny.'

      Beto said, 'I'll bet you don't find that "funny".'

      "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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      • #18
        Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

        Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
        I think you let a comma get wild here. I don't think you meant to have a comma after Poppycock.
        ComicBent - I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "you let a comma get wild" - but I'll say 'no', because that comma is very intentional.

        As I said above: "I'm wondering if the American standard means that there could be times when it's unclear if a complete or partial sentence is being quoted,". The comma after "Miss Poppycock" is one of two such times that I painfully contrived as examples in that passage.

        Officer Doolally actually said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock, and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can". However, when a quote is just a fragment of what was said, then the American standard can make it wrongly appear as though a complete sentence is being quoted. Also, the American standard can make it wrongly appear as though someone finished the sentence that they were going to say before being killed by a paddle steamer with a perversely vertical trajectory.

        Ignoring the single or double quotation mark traditions, as many writers do - if the paddle steamer had not put a premature stop to Officer Doolally's sentence, then I think (perhaps incorrectly?) that the British standard would properly report his complete sentence thus:

        Officer Doolally said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock, and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can do to stop me.".

        That's one period inside the closing quotation mark to show that the quotation is a complete sentence, and another period after the closing quotation mark to end the reporter's sentence.
        Last edited by Crayon; 06-04-2020, 10:39 AM. Reason: add paragraphs 4, 5 and 6
        Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
        "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

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        • #19
          Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

          Officer Doolally said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock, and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can do to stop me.".
          Proper punctuation is simply:
          Officer Doolally said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock, and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can do to stop me."
          The final period in the quote functions as the end of the whole unit.

          "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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          • #20
            Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

            Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
            Proper punctuation is simply:
            Officer Doolally said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock, and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can do to stop me."
            The final period in the quote functions as the end of the whole unit.
            Yes, I understand how that's simply the proper American standard, and that the period inside the closing quotation mark functions as the end of both the quotation and its containing sentence.

            However, a final single period (either inside or outside the closing quotation mark) means that a reader cannot know whether or not the words being quoted are the complete sentence that was originally spoken. But, clearly, that's not generally considered to be a problem.

            I'm fairly sure that I've sometimes seen punctuation such as this:
            Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Poppycock, you shall die.".
            And this:
            Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Poppycock,".
            That seems like a better method. And it allows for clarity such as this:
            Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Poppycock, ...".
            And this:
            Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Pop". But, before he could finish, a paddle steamer struck him.
            Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
            "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

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            • #21
              Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

              I'm fairly sure that I've sometimes seen punctuation such as this:

              Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Poppycock, you shall die.".

              And this:
              Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Poppycock,".

              That seems like a better method. And it allows for clarity such as this:

              Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Poppycock, ...".

              And this:
              Officer Doolally said: "Now, Miss Pop". But, before he could finish, a paddle steamer struck him.
              All I can say is that you should follow whatever style manual is standard for you.

              Happy writing!

              "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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