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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Puncuating Interruptions

   
Author Topic: Puncuating Interruptions
reid
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How do you handle punctuating an interrupted dialogue?
*************************************************
She said, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand-“

“ What?” he said.

“-it’s when people like you interrupt me.”
*************************************************
Or,

She said, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand...“

“What?” he said.

“...it’s when people like you interrupt me.”
*************************************************
Or,

She said, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand...“

“What?” he said.

“It’s when people like you interrupt me.”
*************************************************
Or, some other way that I haven’t considered.

Thanks!

Brian


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darklight
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I would use the second example, though I have no idea what the rule is here - would be interested in knowing the proper way of punctuating this. I use the ... thing WAY too often though.
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reid
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Sorry about the topic typo. I guess I can't correct the topic field once it's posted.

Brian


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Robert Nowall
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Bigger dashes, for one---I use three without spaces, but I'm told two-with-spaces-on-either-side -- this way -- is generally preferred. (I hope this shows up in the post.)

Ultimately, it would depend on the nature of the conversation. If the interruption is abrupt---dashes are called for. But if the interruption is more in the nature of a character's vocalized thoughts trailing off...well, the three-periods ellipsis will do.


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dee_boncci
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If the speaker is interrupted or suddenly cut off, use a dash ("--").

If the speaker has to stop to think, search for words, whatever, use an ellipsis ("...").


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Balthasar
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Ditto to Dee's post.
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kings_falcon
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Dee has it right.

Elipses ( . . . ) mean you've just trailed off.

Interruptions are dashes "-".


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DeepDreamer
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When the speaker is interrupted, in that first line, use dashes as has been said.

Here's the part I'm not 100% sure on: What about when she finishes her sentence? Do you use dashes at the beginning of the sentence?

quote:

She said, "If there's one thing I can't stand -- "

"What?" he said.

" -- it's when people like you interrupt me."



Does that "it's" need to be capitalized? Isn't that a complete sentence in itself? In these cases, I usually write them like:

"It's when people like you interrupt me."

Am I doing that right? Is there a tried-and-true rule on this?


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dee_boncci
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I'm not 100% sure on that one, but I'd probably start a new sentence with "Its", but that's because I envision it as her stopping when interupped, maybe taking a breath, and starting again after he interrupted. I'd don't know what would be correct if you wanted to convey her disregarding the interruption and continuing without a distinct pause. I'd be interested to hear the answer to this, if someone knows it.
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hoptoad
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As Robert Nowall said, an em dash is indicated in a manuscript by two hyphens. However, the space fore and aft, as he suggested, is considered informal. Even though I think a text is easier to read with the spaces, it is most correct not to have them. Some proofreaders hate it when they're put in.

The em dash usually indicates an interruption of thought ie : I was talking to Joe when--was that the door bell?

So it boils down to the intent of the first speaker.

In your example, the sentence is interrupted, not the thought. The interruption occurs where a natural pause, or comma, would occur in the full sentence. It seems like the first speaker is setting up the interruption in order to make a point. If that is the case, then an ellipsis would work fine here because the first speaker is basically pausing for the interruption. It is an unspoken invitation.

However if the first speaker was originally going to say something different and the train-of-thought was changed by the interruption, then use the em dash.

IE: If they were going to say, 'If there's one thing I hate, its poodles with bows,' but changed it to 'If there's one thing I hate, it's when people like you interrupt me,' as a result of the interruption then use the em dash.


[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited April 13, 2007).]


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hoptoad
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ps: it's will not have to be capitalised if you use an ellipsis.

(My preference...)


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DeepDreamer
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"It's" would not be capitalized when used with an ellipsis if, were the ellipsis not there, that "it's" is the middle of a sentence.

(Sorry in advance for the crummy examples.)

quote:
"Everything should be in . . ." she said, her voice trailing off.

"What?"

" . . . it's place. . . . What is this thing doing here?"


But if someone trails off at the end of a sentence, the next line of dialogue should have no ellipses at the beginning, and should start like a normal sentence.

quote:
"Everything should be in it's place, but . . ." Her voice trailed off.

"What?" he asked.

"It's not the way I left it."


One final remark about ellipses marks. When used to mark where a sentence is left unfinished, use three periods. When used to mark where the speaker trailed off at the end of a sentence, use four. Proper/preferred formatting for ellipses is to leave a space between each period.

Didn't we have several threads on this before? *goes off on the hunt for them*


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DeepDreamer
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These should cover just about everything regarding hyphens vs ellipses.


http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/001845.html

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/001169.html

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/001137.html

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/000878.html

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/000633.html

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/000615.html


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Balthasar
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For what it's worth, I happened upon this passage in Ray Bradbury's "The Next in Line" and thought I'd share it. It's pretty incredible, technically. Something to be studied.
quote:

After another minute or two she lifted herself. "Let's not stay here another night, Joe."

"But it's a wonderful town."

"Yes, but we've seen everything." She got up. She knew what came next. Gayness, blitheness, encouragement, everything quite false and hopeful. "We could go onto Patzcuaro. Make it in no time. You won't have to pack, I'll do it all myself, darling! We can get a room at the Don Posada there. They say it’s a beautiful little town--"

"This," he remarked," is a beautiful little town."

"Bougainvillea climb all over the buildings--" she said.

"These--" he pointed to some flowers at the window "--are bougainvillea."

"--and we'd fish, you like fishing," she said in bright haste. "And I'd fish, too, I'd learn, yes I would, I've always wanted to learn! And they say the Tarascan Indians there are almost Mongoloid in feature, and don't speak much Spanish, and from there we could go to Paracutin, that's near Uruapan, and they have some of the finest lacquered boxes there, oh, it'll be fun, Joe. I'll pack. You just take it easy, and--"

"Marie."

He stopped her with one word as she ran to the bathroom door.

"Yes?"

"I thought you said you didn't feel well?"

"I didn't. I don't. But, thinking of all those swell places--"

"We haven't seen one-tenth of this town," he explained logically.


[This message has been edited by Balthasar (edited April 13, 2007).]


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hoptoad
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Great example.
Love Bradbaby's stuff.

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