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C.Arthur

Voice Identification Methods

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When I wrote my first book I wanted to try out a different method of identifying the speaker in a section of dialog.  I represented the speaker as you might when writing a screenplay.  

FirstCharacter: "Why would you say something like that?"

SecondChater: "Clearly you aren't aware of the cultural ramifications..."

 

I decided to write dialog using this technique because one of my greatest pet peeves is not being able to identify who is saying what while reading a book.  It takes me totally out of the story and I often give up on that portion of the dialog, unsure of the meaning or context.

 

The reviews of my first book "Seed of Harmony" have been very good.  But a few readers have given it low marks because this writing style is not what they are used to and it takes THEM out of the story.

 

I'd like some help evaluating if I should continue writing in this style or revert to the standard 'Bob said:...Jane said:... was said by Bill...etc.'

 

Best regards,

 

C. Arthur Shuey
Author@HarmonicEmpire.com

www.HarmonicEmpire.com

Facebook: HarmonicEmpireBooks

 

Edited by C.Arthur
Fix spelling errors
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You have to please yourself, before you can write anything that will please anyone else.  Do what you are most comfortable with and realize that you can't please everyone.  Sometimes everyone encounters dialogue in which it can be confusing as to who said what.  Usually re-reading it in context clarifies the problem.  Other people can't stand the apparent ambiguity and that is OK too!  

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The one downside to this style is for your blind readers who use a screen reader. There’s really no way for a screen reader to differentiate the break to next character POV. So it comes off with dialogue making no sense. Just an incoherent scene.

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At its heart, writing is entertainment.  Readers want to have a good time and confusion hinders their enjoyment.  Being taken too far out of the comfort zone makes it difficult for the reader to forget that they are reading a story.  Scripts are meant to be performed, so reading dialogue in the manner you described will take the reader out of "entertainment mode" and into "I'm reading a script mode."  It's like seeing the microphone in the shot of a movie.  It takes the reader out of the moment and reminds them, "I'm reading a story" r "I'm watching a movie" rather than "Oh God, what will happen next!"  This is why the Harry Potter bonus book didn't succeed as well as the others did.  Conventional writing methods are conventional because they work.   I agree when conventional methods are done poorly, and confusion develops, that can just as easily take one out of the story.  Sometimes, one can forego the "Bob said," "Jane said" tags and just let the characters talk.  Like so:

 

"No, Bob, I'm not going to watch the movie."

 

"But Jane!  It's number one at the box office!"

 

"I'm not going to see a movie so poorly-made they can't even film it without getting the boom mike in the shot!"

 

"Why do you have to nit-pick everything?"

 

"Up yours, Bob!"

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38 minutes ago, jkwsquirrel said:

At its heart, writing is entertainment.  Readers want to have a good time and confusion hinders their enjoyment.  Being taken too far out of the comfort zone makes it difficult for the reader to forget that they are reading a story.  Scripts are meant to be performed, so reading dialogue in the manner you described will take the reader out of "entertainment mode" and into "I'm reading a script mode."  It's like seeing the microphone in the shot of a movie.  It takes the reader out of the moment and reminds them, "I'm reading a story" r "I'm watching a movie" rather than "Oh God, what will happen next!"  This is why the Harry Potter bonus book didn't succeed as well as the others did.  Conventional writing methods are conventional because they work.   I agree when conventional methods are done poorly, and confusion develops, that can just as easily take one out of the story.  Sometimes, one can forego the "Bob said," "Jane said" tags and just let the characters talk.  Like so:

 

"No, Bob, I'm not going to watch the movie."

 

"But Jane!  It's number one at the box office!"

 

"I'm not going to see a movie so poorly-made they can't even film it without getting the boom mike in the shot!"

 

"Why do you have to nit-pick everything?"

 

"Up yours, Bob!"

One problem is when one character says more than one paragraph before another one speaks. I’ve had trouble figuring out who is saying what when the unidentified lines could have easily been spoken by either character. It gets repetitious to read ‘she said this’ and ‘he replied that’ but some authors delete too many of those types of indications.

 

I use Safari’s Reader Mode (a similar Reader Mode is available in Firefox) to hide all extraneous junk (like ads and photographs or even sidebars) to focus solely on the main text itself. It sometimes delete what it believes is extra returns. This can cause sections of chapters to blur together. But certain combinations of word processors or text editors and the site software fail to properly encode the main text to allow Reader Mode to function.

 

 

When I saw the title and noticed that @BlindAmbition had posted a Comment on this topic, I was expecting it to be about Voice Recognition software or Text-to-Speech software.  ;–)

 

Update: I was Notified because of @jkwsquirrel’s Comment.

Edited by droughtquake

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I wanted to update this post with some feedback from reviews.

The reviews of Book 1 have been overwhelmingly good!  The first two reviewers on the GoodReads site were horrible.  Almost every review since then has been excellent.  Several reviewers did mention that the dialog took some getting used to because of the different styles and prefacing the dialog with the speaker's name.  But they often mentioned how they came to appreciate this style because with complicated dialog in which some conversation is verbal, some telepathic and some electronic... it can be very confusing as to who is speaking to whom and who can hear the dialog.

I stumbled across another review site and was pleasantly surprised to find an excellent review of the book...MM Good Book Reviews Website

 

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4 hours ago, C.Arthur said:

The first two reviewers on the GoodReads site were horrible

Well I took a look at the reviews and there were three negative reviews, but they were not "horrible," the comments were legitimate and the reviewers made suggestions, even praised certain aspects and the great potential. Then I took a look at your story for myself, but the thing is, it is incomplete, marked 'in process.' Therefore, my question is, do we have to buy your book on Amazon or are you going to continue to post it here, eventually? It's probably a mute point, because from what I did read, I somewhat agree with those reviews, great potential for an interesting story, but the style (if you can call it that) leaves an awful lot to desire, to the point where I would probably never get very far into it. One last observation I would make, is that if you can only differentiate the "complicated dialogue, a mix of verbal, telepathic, and electronic by resorting to visual format, then like identifying who is speaking by naming them in the fashion of a script, indicates to me that you have some way to go in achieving a book that not only tells a good story, but makes it pleasurable to read.

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