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Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:30 pm
by honeyrock
I was one of those journalism students taught to not use "said". thanks so much for that info! I've been watching that in all my reading lately and can't believe I never noticed that before - how much it is used, and by the top selling christian fiction authors, too!

To ask a question? I was wondering about something I've noticed alot in reading my favorite Christian fiction top sellers. In the midst of dialogue these will put in a really insignificant sentence, like a "so?" Its not a particular writer's style, I see it alot For example:

"Are you really certain, Miss Pointer, that the lady made a call from this phone?"

Yelda took a sip of tea. "Yes, quite sure."


Marvin stared at Muriel and blinked. "Where did you leave the journal?"

Muriel nibbled her celery thoughtfully. "I'm not at all sure."

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:42 pm
by glorybee
Honeyrock, I'll answer your question by referring you to this lesson about writing dialog. Look especially at my point #5 (toward the end of the lesson). I think that's what you're referring to--if not, let me know.

I'll also send you on another wild good chase--to this lesson, to the "Quick Take" in bold.

If I were feeling really spunky, I'd send you on a scavenger hunt through all of the lessons: What's the third word in the fourteenth line of lesson 6? That sort of thing...but I guess I've done enough for now... :mrgreen:

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:05 pm
by honeyrock
I'm actually wondering not about the placement of dialogue, but the content of what you place with it when its truly insignificant. I've noticed it alot lately -seemingly insignificant action in - a very short sentence in with the dialogue.

"I thought I answered your question." Adelaide replied, watching Mr. Jones terrer trot by.

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:35 pm
by glorybee
Ahhh, I see.

I think writers use the little action snippet as a way of avoiding "said" or its alternatives. It lets the reader know who's speaking--the same person who's acting.

As far as the relevance of the action--sometimes those little phrases can be used as an aid to characterization:

"How you doin', ma'am?" Gomer scratched his belly and stared, bug-eyed.

Here, the action tells me that despite his polite words, Gomer is an oaf.

And sometimes they can move the plot along, just a teensy bit:

Patrice fingered a wax-sealed linen envelope. "James, what do you know about your grandfather?"

Or, the action tags might contribute a bit to the atmosphere of the story:

"I'm getting something from the basement." Jennica plodded down the shadowed stairway.

This can be a really effective way of writing dialog, in my opinion. What do you think?

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:30 pm
by honeyrock
Okay, now I feel better. I wasn't getting it when they didn't add to characterization, etc. but that makes sense, they move the story along, even a little. I really like that technique used in all the ways you describe.