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I, like, want to know , like what do you --like--think?


Dalmania

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I expect that most editors come across some dialogue in which the author repeatedly includes a certain expression--perhaps different for each character.

 

Examples of these expressions include: like, eh, you know, umm, ...

 

They are scattered repeatedly as fillers within or between sentences.

 

 

Now these expressions would not be included in a grammar text for English composition; but they used regularly are in many individuals' speech patterns.

 

I figure they make written dialogue seem/sound more realistic.

 

Is there one particular way that these expressions should be included in written versions of the dialogues?

 

I figure that they interrupt sentences..so should they be separated by commas, dashes, ignored or what?

 

The answer or opinions please...

 

 

 

Frances :unsure:

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If you are a language stickler, like and you know will drive you bonkers.

 

If you are a reality stickler, people do talk talk that way. Especially when they are nervous and/or talking about delicate feelings.

 

IMHO the use of like & you know should probably be handled like dialect: a very little in the right place should go a long way and serve to both say a great deal about the character and humanize that character.

 

Two hormone crazed 16 year olds in a Mustang by the lake speaking the Queen's English just isn't very realistic.

 

Ummm, like let's do it.

 

Do what.. I mean like, you know, define It?

 

Hehhehehe, If we do IT right, I figure we'll both need a shower.

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I think that a balance is important. I cannot abide people who speak like that in real life, and I cannot abide reading stories in which every second word is argot. I usually include a few slang words (especially contractions like 'wanna' and 'gonna') but I recognize that that can lead to less realistic speech.

 

I am facing this problem in the short story I am working on for the next anthology. It is set in rural Texas ca. 1970 and I'm finding it hard to balance between realistic dialogue and readability.

 

The example James gave would be the absolute extent of what I would be willing to put in a story. I don't care how most kids talk, they sound foolish and inarticulate when they do so. Realism is certainly important, but I think that going to far detracts from the story. Words on paper and spoken words are different, and what might sound perfectly normal in everyday speech could be excruciatingly awkward to read/write.

 

Menzo

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I remember reading once something about dialogue that's stuck with me because it made so much sense.

 

Dialogue is not supposed to be real. It's supposed to sound real. If you watch a movie or TV show, the dialogue sounds real, but you'll notice that there is very little of the speech hesitations you're talking about in their dialogue.

As James said, use it sparingly, and only when it is supposed to indicate something such as deep thought, distraction or hesitation. The speech fillers should be left out UNLESS they are an integral part of a character (and that would be rare -- possibly a character with a speech impediment). If you do have such a character, be very careful or they can drive the reader mad very quickly.

 

Having said all of that, there are well-received stories that accurately reflect how people speak. They can be difficult reads, though, because the way people speak changes and becomes dated very quickly. The way an English punk spoke in the 70s, for example, would be difficult for a modern American teenager to understand -- not impossible, but there would be so many words and phrases that wouldn't be immediately comprehended, and hence would jar the reader out of the story.

 

Just my opinion :)

Edited by Graeme
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Two of the most overused elements in dialog (and dialogue :P ) are the dash (M-dash, N-dash, and double-hyphen) and the ellipsis ( ... ) to indicate pauses in a character's dialog. To paraphrase what James and Graeme said, use very sparingly! :nuke:

 

Colin B)

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... in dialog (and dialogue :P ) are ...

Okay, you're almost trained, Colin. The only problem was that it should have been "... in dialogue (and dialog :P ) are ...". Otherwise, well done! :great:

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Personally, I feel that if the character has to stall like this, then he/she should use phrases like umm/er ...

 

That is easier to read than full words that make the dialogue ( :P For you Graeme, I use this spelling as well) far too long. And long, unproductive dialogues like these are usually a turnoff for the reader. :)

 

BeaStKid 16.gif

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Personally, I feel that if the character has to stall like this, then he/she should use phrases like umm/er ...

 

That is easier to read than full words that make the dialogue ( :P For you Graeme, I use this spelling as well) far too long. And long, unproductive dialogues like these are usually a turnoff for the reader. :)

 

BeaStKid 16.gif

I only occasionally use pauses such as these in dialogue. I prefer crisp and productive dialogue. I would never use them from the perspective of the writer. The story teller is supposed to be intelligent IMHO.

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