Mixing conversation with internal monologue

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Svrtnsse, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Consider the following line:
    The "being an idiot" part is meant to be Enar thinking to himself. He's not saying it out loud, but he lets his words trail off and fills in the rest in his mind. Does that come through in the way it's written or is there a better (correct?) way of writing something like that.

    I recall Feo asking about something similar a while back, but I didn't find that thread.
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I'm not certain considering the lack of context but I might do it something like this, where I draw closer attention to internal monologue with a separation of paragraph, while ensuring the reader knows both speakers are Enar. Because of that requirement, I might need to replace the pronoun "He" at the beginning with a tag of some sort.

     
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  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Thanks TAS, this is an option I hadn't considered. I'll mull on it for a bit and see how I feel about it, or if it spurs any other ideas.
     
  4. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    This may seem like a lot of punctuation but I feel like it implies that his thoughts interrupt his words. Just my take, no rules being followed or anything.
     
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  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    As an aside here, I've noticed that the more I write, the more I tend to bend the rules for grammar. For example, it is my understanding that, strictly speaking, "being an idiot" isn't a complete sentence.

    I do for the most part try to write correctly, and I like to think that when I break the rules it's by intent and not ignorance.
     
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Grammar has it's uses, but it can also make all your characters sound like butlers.

    Grammar and punctuation are the slaves of the writer. Bend grammar rules to your will and force them to serve your needs and demands. Do not allow grammar to be the master.
     
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  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'd like to think so too, but every now and then I end up with situations like the one in this thread. I guess it's part of "voice" too. It might be a bit unfair to ask about just one sentence. Someone who's read the entire story and who's used to my way of writing may not even notice.
     
  8. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    for the inner-thoughts you may want to use italics or single quotations or both as I have shown below.
    Enar sighed and shook his head, smiling at himself. “I'm coming, I'm just... I'm just...” 'Being an idiot.' “I'm coming.”

    Another option is to separate the inner-thought to a separate line to make it stand out.
    Enar sighed and shook his head, smiling at himself. “I'm coming, I'm just... I'm just...”
    'Being an idiot.'
    “I'm coming.”

    Hope this helps.
     
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  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I think it works fine as you had it originally, except you should add three dots before "being an idiot" to show it's not a complete sentence. Like this:

    Enar sighed and shook his head, smiling at himself. “I'm coming, I'm just... I'm just...” ...being an idiot. “I'm coming.”
     
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  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I also think the original works well enough, and if the question is one of clarity, I think it is perfectly clear. I've seen this approach used many times in published stories. The alternatives suggested work as well, so which one you choose comes down to more of a stylistic consideration rather than one version that works versus one that does not.
     
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  11. MFreako

    MFreako Troubadour

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    I too think the original works fine as is. When faced with a question of style vs. grammar I tend to go with style nine times out of ten. But that's just me.
     
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  12. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    I also think the original way you wrote it is fine. I myself have used that multiple times in my own writing.

    As to the idea of bending grammar, if it adds to the style then go ahead and bend the rules. To quote Captain Barbossa, they're more like guidelines than actual rules.
     
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  13. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone. It's very much appreciated. :)
     
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