Author Topic: Is it possible to break up this paragraph? (Separating dialogue & actions)  (Read 273 times)

Cabbages and kings



At time 2:07 the video's host gives an example of placing actions and dialogue in the same paragraph.

But the paragraph looks large and blocky to me and because it begins with action instead of dialogue, the dialogue looks lost and hard to read for me.

So would it be within the rules of conventional dialogue formatting to break up that paragraph and place each action and dialogue line into it's own paragraph?

ETA: The YouTube uploader deleted the video.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2021, 01:18:04 PM by Cabbages and kings »
 

Post-Crisis D

But the paragraph looks large and blocky to me and because it begins with action instead of dialogue, the dialogue looks lost and hard to read for me.

It looks pretty standard to me.

So would it be within the rules of conventional dialogue formatting to break up that paragraph and place each action and dialogue line into it's own paragraph?

To me, that would make it more confusing.  If you were to break it up, I would expect that the actions and dialogue are taking place between two characters instead of one.  So, it'd give me pause as I'd be like, wait, there's not a second person here?
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JRTomlin

So would it be within the rules of conventional dialogue formatting to break up that paragraph and place each action and dialogue line into it's own paragraph?
No, it is standard within the rules of conventional dialogue formatting to include narration in the same paragraph as dialogue as long as it all refers to the speaker. Not doing so would make the reader assume it was a different speaker as a matter of fact.

ETA: As Post-Crisis D said, I am merely agreeing. 😜😜
« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 09:58:42 AM by JRTomlin »
 
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LilyBLily

I routinely break up what one person is saying or thinking into more than one paragraph. I do it for emphasis and to keep the paragraphs short. The second paragraph is a different idea, or a change in focus, or whatever. Who is speaking has to be obvious. One can omit a final close quote mark to indicate continuation, but lots of readers are ignorant of that convention. Often I add some bit of physical description between the paragraphs instead. That kills two birds with one stone because who is speaking is clear and the scene isn't just talking heads.

I mostly write--or try to write--in deep POV. The description must clearly be from that person's POV, so then there's no dialogue tag needed in the first paragraph and none in the second, either. If it looks as if the second paragraph might cause confusion, I add a dialogue tag.

I also try not to let my characters be long-winded, but I do write dialogue-heavy books. I make a point of keeping the conversation batting back and forth. I used to hate reading books in which someone would ask a question and the other person would not answer them. That's real life, and it suits a mystery, perhaps, but it doesn't suit a romance. In a romance, one should always get the feeling that these people can interact with each other on a comfort level they don't necessarily have with others. My opinion, anyway; I don't like to write stories about people who can't talk to each other and will get divorced in a year.   
 
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TimothyEllis

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The only time I put text and dialogue together is when the person hasn't finished talking yet, but something needs to be pointed out before they do.

I actually hate reading long paragraphs with both mixed.

By separating them out most of the time, the read is smoother.


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JRTomlin

The formatting in question is quite standard. That doesn't mean everyone has to do it that way. You can break your writing up into short paragraphs and it doesn't break some 'rule'. I find the dense paragraphs more intense, which I prefer which is probably why I like One Hundred Years of Solitude which that paragraph is from. 🤷‍♀️

That video has a good basic explanation of how to write and format dialogue.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 12:00:00 PM by JRTomlin »
 
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Jeff Tanyard

The example in the video is one of "buried dialogue," something that is frowned upon by some editors, though it's certainly not any kind of hard-and-fast rule.

Here's some editor's blog post about it.


So would it be within the rules of conventional dialogue formatting to break up that paragraph and place each action and dialogue line into it's own paragraph?


Sure; go for it.  If it was me, I'd simply add a paragraph break after "natural death" and call it good, but there's nothing wrong with making each sentence its own paragraph if you so desire.

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JRTomlin

I don't know any editors who question having action in the same paragraph as dialogue or would have had the cajones to lecture Gabriel García Márquez on paragraph structure in one of the most significant novels in modern world literature. 😜

But as you say, if you like short paragraphs, make it so. There is absolutely no 'rule' against doing so.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 02:14:46 PM by JRTomlin »
 
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Hopscotch

I despise paragraphs.  I think action should flow on and on until it bumps into a bit of dialog and then flow after until the next bit of dialog.  That seems natural to me.  But that approach makes my Kindle unhappy.  So I break up the flow into little paras of distinct actions that fit nicely onto an e-reader screen.  Same for longer dialog, which I (Lily-style) break up w/bits of action squeezed out of the larger flow.  For printbooks, I do it my way - b/c print and printbook readers are a lot more flexible.