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m00bah
08-19-2012, 11:55 AM
Two questions for you if possible.

1). Which of the following is correct for interrupted dialogue where one person finishes the others sentence? I'm using an em dash for the interruption of the first speaker, but I'm unsure if I should be using another em dash at the beginning of the sentence by the person doing the interruption?

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Jennifer kept her voice low. “Like I said, you need things to go in your favour next week, so please don’t get your, or your daughter’s, hopes up too quickly. Even if the ruling goes in your favour, there is paperwork to be done. These things—”
“—take time,” he finished. “I know.”


Jennifer kept her voice low. “Like I said, you need things to go in your favour next week, so please don’t get your, or your daughter’s, hopes up too quickly. Even if the ruling goes in your favour, there is paperwork to be done. These things—”
“Take time,” he finished. “I know.”

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2. I'm sure I read somewhere that you can use em dashes between words of dialogue to indicate someone struggling to breathe. For example, this man is dying and can only speak in stilted short waves. Is this okay?

He half opened his eyes and tried to speak. He struggled to get the words out, pausing every few seconds for a breath. “Get—them out of here—see your—little girl.”

Bufty
08-19-2012, 01:40 PM
Answered in narrative below.

Finishing with an em-dash means the dialogue is interrupted so it's not really necessary to say the interrupting speaker 'interrupted'.

In the last example you could consider leaving out the sentence about him struggling to get breath because it's evident from the previous sentence and the dialogue itself.

;)


Two questions for you if possible.

1). Which of the following is correct for interrupted dialogue where one person finishes the others sentence? I'm using an em dash for the interruption of the first speaker, but I'm unsure if I should be using another em dash at the beginning of the sentence by the person doing the interruption?

--------------------

Jennifer kept her voice low. “Like I said, you need things to go in your favour next week, so please don’t get your, or your daughter’s, hopes up too quickly. Even if the ruling goes in your favour, there is paperwork to be done. These things—”
“—take time,” he finished. “I know.”


Jennifer kept her voice low. “Like I said, you need things to go in your favour next week, so please don’t get your, or your daughter’s, hopes up too quickly. Even if the ruling goes in your favour, there is paperwork to be done. These things—”
“Take time,” he finished. “I know.” THIS ONE is correct.

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2. I'm sure I read somewhere that you can use em dashes between words of dialogue to indicate someone struggling to breathe. For example, this man is dying and can only speak in stilted short waves. Is this okay? YES

He half opened his eyes and tried to speak. He struggled to get the words out, pausing every few seconds for a breath. “Get—them out of here—see your—little girl.”

m00bah
08-19-2012, 02:01 PM
Answered in narrative below.

Finishing with an em-dash means the dialogue is interrupted so it's not really necessary to say the interrupting speaker 'interrupted'.

In the last example you could consider leaving out the sentence about him struggling to get breath because it's evident from the previous sentence and the dialogue itself.

;)

Thanks. I appreciate the answer! :)

Tivoli
08-20-2012, 01:26 AM
With regards to #1, I agree with Bufty's evaluation. (If you like/use/are a fan of the Chicago Manual of Style, 6.84 mentions this & agrees with Bufty.)

If two characters were continually interrupting each other, though, I'd probably have to check for similar situations in published literature to find a standard.

Bufty
08-20-2012, 02:48 AM
Glad you agree, so why complicate the issue?;)

And welcome :welcome:


I agree with Bufty's evaluation. In #1, I think of the em-dash as actually signalling the break in speech. The "—take time" example doesn't make sense to me, because no part of this phrase is actually being interrupted. The second example in #2 represents the way I'd expect it to be printed.

If two characters were continually interrupting each other, though, I'd probably have to check for similar situations in published literature to find a standard.

Fallen
08-20-2012, 11:59 AM
He half opened his eyes and tried to speak. He struggled to get the words out, pausing every few seconds for a breath. “Get—them out of here—see your—little girl.”

I have to admit I'm not too keen on this one. You said you're suggesting a pause, in which case ellipsis would be fine and cut out the jarring run of Em dash:

"Get... them out of here... see your... little girl."

Or

"Get--" His lips thinned and paled as pain twisted his body."--them out of here... see your.. Girl." (Dialogue is stopped by action)

Or

"Get"--his lips thinned and paled as pain twisted his body--"them out of here... see your... girl." (Action is a complement that runs at the same time as the dialogue)

There are a thousand-and-one ways to portray that. I'd just be cautious of overusing the em dash in the second example you gave.

Tivoli
08-22-2012, 10:24 AM
I'm not sure exactly what part of my post you found problematic, Bufty, but I agree that it was unclear, so I've edited it. (And thanks for the welcome.)

Bufty
08-22-2012, 01:25 PM
You've raised and answered your own question, friend, but I'm still not sure what you meant by having to 'check for similar situations in published literature to find a standard' if two people are continually interrupting each other.

The standard way of showing interruption of someone's dialogue is to use the em-dash.

I don't use the CMofS because it's not aimed at writers of novels.


I'm not sure exactly what part of my post you found problematic, Bufty, but I agree that it was unclear, so I've edited it. (And thanks for the welcome.)