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Thread: Cut off sentences in quotes

  1. #1
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    Cut off sentences in quotes

    I was just wondering what the proper way of writing someone's dialogue is when they are being cut off in speech. Do you use a quotation at the end or just leave it hanging with the dash?

    Ex.

    "Stop it! What the hell are you--"
    "Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."

    Or is it,

    "Stop it! What the hell are you--
    "Stop moving, damn it. Your going to rip it."

    Okay, for some reason the dashes are not showing up here as one longer dash the way they do in my MS, but you get my drift. What is the proper way of doing this? When I put the end quote on one of my sentences where there's speech being cut off, the quote comes up backwards. Am I making sense? Do you kwim? Thanks for your help.

    Mel
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  2. #2
    Agented YA Writer Ryan_Sullivan's Avatar
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    The first, but it could get a little confusing. It might be nice to have something between the quotations.

    "Stop it! What the hell are you--" He was cut off by (blah blah blah). "Stop moving, damn it. Your going to rip it."

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  3. #3
    Crypto-fascist Soccer Mom's Avatar
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    Use the first. Em dashes still require you to close your quotation marks. You're having issues because you have smart quotes turned on (makes the curly quotation marks). Change it to straight quotes and you won't have to worry about what direction they face.
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  4. #4
    So many WIPs which one to work on Jill Karg's Avatar
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    actually i was always taught this way.


    "Stop it! What the hell are you..."
    "Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."


    three periods together next to word. no spacing between ... and word and "
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  5. #5
    Infuriatingly Theoretical TheIT's Avatar
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    The em-dash indicates a sudden cutoff or interruption. The ellipsis indicates a gradual trailing off.

    MS Word has default settings for some punctuation marks. One setting converts two -- into an em-dash. Another is "smart quote" to make curly quotes. Most recommendations I've seen say to turn off both these features. Also, get rid of the AutoCorrect value to convert ... into one character.

    Remember that quotation marks must come in pairs. In the second example in the original post, there's an odd number of quotes. MS Word will always try to match up pairs of quotes for curly quotes to make sure the "curls" are in the right direction. That's why the "quote shows up backwards". It's trying to match the first quote of the second sentence as the last quote of the first sentence. Doesn't matter to Word that it's on a different line.
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  6. #6
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    Interesting guys. Thanks for the info. My computer turns -- into what I now know is called an em-dash.

    Ellipsis I only use for as you said, trailing off in conversation or thought. But I do have the curly quotes so I will look into turning them off.

    Thanks so much.

    Mel
    Last edited by mellymel; 08-21-2010 at 06:54 PM.
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  7. #7
    It's green they say FennelGiraffe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mellymel View Post
    "Stop it! What the hell are you--"
    "Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."

    Or is it,

    "Stop it! What the hell are you--
    "Stop moving, damn it. Your going to rip it."
    Is this the same speaker with no intervening action? If so, why are you separating it? Why not keep it together?
    "Stop it! What the hell are you-- Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."
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    In a mystery novel, if I describe what's on a desk, the reader will understand that one of those objects is a clue.

    In a literary novel, if I describe what's on a desk, the reader will understand it to be a metaphor for the protagonist's mental state.
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  8. #8
    Protecting Teddy with all my might. Leah J. Utas's Avatar
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    Got drawn to this discussion and glad of it. I was having the same quote mark problems and had no idea about smart vs. straight marks. Thanks Soccer Mom.
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  9. #9
    Snow? Already? Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FennelGiraffe View Post
    Is this the same speaker with no intervening action? If so, why are you separating it? Why not keep it together?
    "Stop it! What the hell are you-- Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."
    No, I thought it was one speaker being interrupted by a second speaker.

    In which case it would be the first example where each piece of dialog is enclosed within quotation marks.
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  10. #10
    Bunned whimsical rabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIT View Post
    The em-dash indicates a sudden cutoff or interruption. The ellipsis indicates a gradual trailing off.
    That's what I thought, too. Thanks for confirming.
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  11. #11
    Spec Fic Writer Sevvy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suirattigas View Post
    Got drawn to this discussion and glad of it. I was having the same quote mark problems and had no idea about smart vs. straight marks. Thanks Soccer Mom.
    Ditto, and it used to drive me nuts. My writing teachers would circle them all, and I'd just be like "...you know what I meant! Stupid computer..."
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  12. #12
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FennelGiraffe View Post
    Is this the same speaker with no intervening action? If so, why are you separating it? Why not keep it together?
    "Stop it! What the hell are you-- Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."
    No. Two different speakers. This isn't an example from my work. I made this on the spot. Sorry if it wasn't clear. But thanks for taking the time to respond

    Now...how the heck do I turn off the curly quotes
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  13. #13
    Snow? Already? Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    Tools>Autocorrect>Autoformat Tab. It's called "Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes. Uncheck it.

    You can also uncheck the thing that makes -- into an M dash, and a few other things that might annoy you.
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  14. #14
    Spec Fic Writer Sevvy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow_Ferret View Post
    Tools>Autocorrect>Autoformat Tab. It's called "Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes. Uncheck it.

    You can also uncheck the thing that makes -- into an M dash, and a few other things that might annoy you.
    If you're working with Word 2010 (like I am T_T). Then it's File->options->proofing->autocorrect options

    I think we should get together a giant spreadsheet of how to use all of our various writing programs, honestly.
    I was making fun of ____________ before it was cool to do so.

  15. #15
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    Thanks Shadow,

    Did it.

    One last question, how do I get them to change in the text of my MS? Do I have to do a find all " and change them that way or is there another way to do it? Last question, promise

    Thanks
    "The good thing about telling the truth is that there's nothing to remember."--John Ford Noonan (playwright)
    "Falling on your face is still moving forward."--Ron Maranian (comedian)


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  16. #16
    Great chieftain o the puddin'-race SuperModerator Haggis's Avatar
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    You could do a search and replace.
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  17. #17
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    will give that a try. thanks so very much everyone for your help

    Mel
    "The good thing about telling the truth is that there's nothing to remember."--John Ford Noonan (playwright)
    "Falling on your face is still moving forward."--Ron Maranian (comedian)


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  18. #18
    Listening to the Voices In My Head Satori1977's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jill Karg View Post
    actually i was always taught this way.


    "Stop it! What the hell are you..."
    "Stop moving, damn it. You're going to rip it."


    three periods together next to word. no spacing between ... and word and "
    I was taught that ... meant the speaker was trailing off deliberately. Pausing, thinking, whatever. But a dash -- indicates something else cut them off, like another person talking over them.
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  19. #19
    Listening to the Voices In My Head Satori1977's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow_Ferret View Post
    No, I thought it was one speaker being interrupted by a second speaker.

    In which case it would be the first example where each piece of dialog is enclosed within quotation marks.
    That is what I was assuming, it was two different speakers. If it is the same, I wouldn't seperate the dialogue by making a second line...keep it all on one line.
    Rejection isn't failure. Failure is giving up. Everybody gets rejected, it's how you handle it that determines where you will end up.

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  20. #20
    Listening to the Voices In My Head Satori1977's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I have Word 2007, and don't see Tools or File to change my quotes.
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