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citymouse
05-15-2006, 03:08 PM
Hello. I have a question I’m sure someone here can answer.
I have a scene in which my MC is having a tense conversation. There are three people in this scene.
Below are the phrases I’m wondering about. How would you handle the stretch out of the word Steady? For now I’ve put dots between the letters. Unfortunately my Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t address this. It may be one of “up to the author” situations.
Thanks in advance for your help.

Once again Jan ignored her. He checked his watch.
“What else?” he said.
“I’m sorry sir, what else... what?”
“What else do we have nearby? My God woman what have we been talking about!”
“S· t· e· a· d· y Jan, steady,” Joachim warned.
“Aircraft, Phoebe, aircraft.” Jan said. “What else do we have on hand?”

Wolfox4777
05-15-2006, 06:35 PM
I personally think that that looks a bit iffy. In my opinion, it's probably better to just let the reader hear it how they want to, or to change the word order a bit, like this:"Steady," Joachim said slowly, before repeating, "Jan, steady."Just my thoughts. Hope I helped!

maestrowork
05-15-2006, 06:45 PM
Well, if you're writing contemporary or funny story, I think doing something unconventional like that would be okay. But generally speaking, "dotted" words are not used -- at least I've never seen it done before. And if you hadn't told me it meant "stretching" the word, I wouldn't have known either. So the effect would be lost on me.

I would suggest using the conventional italics to emphasize the word, then use a tag to clarify what you mean (here, you can use an adverb to clarify):

"Steady," Joachim said deliberately, "Jan. Steady."

Popeyesays
05-15-2006, 08:28 PM
I think you can only sustain a vowel in speech, so if you wish to sustain a word in print, extend the vowel.

I recently wrote, in the mouth of a sensors operator on a ship: "I don't know where it came from, but it's running WAAAAAY hot."

I might write Steadyyyyyyy, but I would not put periods in unless I wanted the character to be spelling out the word.

"I don't know where it came from, but it's running way H.O.T."



Regards,

Scott

maestrowork
05-16-2006, 12:36 AM
that would be "H-O-T" when you spell the word out in dialogue.

citymouse
05-16-2006, 06:25 AM
Thanks everyone. I'm going with dashes between the letters.

Michael

writeorwrong
05-16-2006, 08:09 PM
So does the character spell out the word? Because that's what the dashes would imply.

I agree with the "...said, slowly" tag. A general rule for narrative is, if it can't be spoken, don't put it on paper. It takes the reader out of the story.

Cat Scratch
05-16-2006, 10:55 PM
Citymouse, I advise against the dashes. As a reader I would also assume the speaker is spelling the word aloud. I also hesitate to advise for dialogue tags, as those are considered lazy writing to many in the editing world. I think it would be more effective for the character to pause and give her a look or something to that effect: slow the pace down immediately before the dialogue, and the dialogue will be read the same way.

citymouse
05-17-2006, 12:51 AM
Citymouse, I advise against the dashes. As a reader I would also assume the speaker is spelling the word aloud. I also hesitate to advise for dialogue tags, as those are considered lazy writing to many in the editing world. I think it would be more effective for the character to pause and give her a look or something to that effect: slow the pace down immediately before the dialogue, and the dialogue will be read the same way.

CM, thanks for your post. I decided last night to eliminate the dashes. BTW Jan is a man. He's of Dutch heritage.

I use tags sparingly. I believe they are a tool like any other.

As for people in the editing world, well, I've gotten a little wary of them. I had one "professional" let slip that she routinely edits three manuscripts simultaneously--mine included. Such a talent! My next email to her informed her that her services were no longer needed. When I pay for something I want undivided attention.
My new editor was so fixated on changing a word that she misspelled the one she substituted! My point is that we are all human and we all make mistakes--people in the editing world too.

Lazy? I'm many things, but lazy I ain't.

And that brings me to the good folks here who are knowledgeable, helpful and good humored. Typed posts often come across as stern and even hostile. The first time I read a relpy to some poor soul I though, "OMG!"

Anyway,thanks again. I know all this takes a lot of energy and I truly appreciate it.
Michael

reph
05-17-2006, 01:22 AM
I had one "professional" let slip that she routinely edits three manuscripts simultaneously--mine included. Such a talent! My next email to her informed her that her services were no longer needed.I don't see the problem. Many writers work on several projects at a time. A doctor sees more than three patients a day.

I assume your (former) editor didn't mean she had a page from each of three manuscripts facing up on her desk at each moment.

maestrowork
05-17-2006, 01:31 AM
I also don't see a problem with an editor working on multiple mss at the same time. Most do. As long as they meet your deadlines and give you full attention (when they're working on your ms.) there should not be a problem.

citymouse
05-17-2006, 02:03 AM
I don't see the problem. Many writers work on several projects at a time. A doctor sees more than three patients a day.

I assume your (former) editor didn't mean she had a page from each of three manuscripts facing up on her desk at each moment.

Yep, she did. When I pressed her she repeated that she had three manuscript sections from three different books open on her desk. She was working on each simultaneously--a little on this one and a little on that and more on another. One ms was for a novel, one a text book and one an historical retrospective.
She did say that three was her limit and that she couldn't handle more than three. I shudder to think how she came to that conclusion.
I learned this after she returned my ms and cashed my check. It was then that I fired off my "get thee hence" email.
Out of curiosity I had someone read my "edited" ms. I got back 29 identified typos and missing words and that was just a cursory read.

I'm angry about this particular editor. My current editor is a dream.

I spent my career in science and I multitasked many things daily, however, when I ran a chemical experiment you can believe it got my full attention. I wasn't paid to make big booms. When I shell out American dollars I expect value for my buck. I guess I'm old fashioned but my bosses wouldn't have hesitated to fire me if I had returned faulty data. They would have been right because in my case someone could have died if I had gotten it wrong.
Fortunately errors in my scribbles won't kill people.
M-

Cat Scratch
05-17-2006, 02:42 AM
CM, thanks for your post. I decided last night to eliminate the dashes. BTW Jan is a man. He's of Dutch heritage.

Michael Just to clarify, Joachim is the person who should be performing the action in the beat (giving a look, checking his watch, whatever) since Joachim is the one about to speak. Sorry if I didn't correctly identify the gender.

reph
05-17-2006, 03:06 AM
Yep, she did. When I pressed her she repeated that she had three manuscript sections from three different books open on her desk.Incredible! Maybe that's her way of coping with a tiny attention span.

janetbellinger
05-17-2006, 04:46 AM
Personally, I wouldn't even mention whether "Steady" was said slowly or not, unless it totally mattered to the story. And if a situation in real life warranted a person saying "steady" slowly, he'd probably also be putting his hand on the person's arm to help steady her.

citymouse
05-17-2006, 05:29 AM
Personally, I wouldn't even mention whether "Steady" was said slowly or not, unless it totally mattered to the story. And if a situation in real life warranted a person saying "steady" slowly, he'd probably also be putting his hand on the person's arm to help steady her.

...also be putting his hand on the person's arm to help steady her.

Excellent! It's just the action I need. Repeating the word along with the contact sets the mood.

Thanks to you all!

BTW Jan is a man. Pronounced Jān.

maestrowork
05-17-2006, 07:21 AM
Like Jan and Franz... :)

Bartholomew
05-17-2006, 09:11 AM
I think the way you have it is too distracting. I'd do it this way:
-----
Ryan looked at me from across the chasm, the thin beam his only hope of escaping the ferocious, poodle-eating croc-men, whose snarls and fearsome clamor echoed up the sloped hill behind him. Sweat trailing down his brow by the gallon, he put a foot onto the beam to test it. I held it steady with both hands and screamed for him to hurry.
"Steady, Ryan," he said to himself, balancing with both arms as he stepped onto the beam with his other foot. "Steadyyy..."