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Kharisma
09-22-2006, 01:00 AM
Examples:
I hope 10 o'clock is okay with you?
"Yes, 10 will be fine. Anyone want dessert?
Colin wandered into the kitchen just before 10.

for the record they don't appear side by side like this in my ms. Just wondering, do I have to put a.m. / p.m. in or spell the time ie ten o'clock.

thanks :)

maestrowork
09-22-2006, 03:26 AM
In dialogue, anything is fine as long as it sounds like what the character would say.

In narrative, I'd say it depends on the style. 10 a.m./p.m, ten o'clock, or ten in the morning all work for me. Keep it consistent.

Lee G.
09-22-2006, 03:31 AM
I think the general consensus is you should spell out any number with two digits or less. Otherwise, I think all your examples work as dialogue. I wouldn't add AM or PM unless you feel the reader would be confused otherwise, or the speaker of the dialogue is being extremely precise.

Jamesaritchie
09-22-2006, 07:10 AM
Examples:
I hope 10 o'clock is okay with you?
"Yes, 10 will be fine. Anyone want dessert?
Colin wandered into the kitchen just before 10.

for the record they don't appear side by side like this in my ms. Just wondering, do I have to put a.m. / p.m. in or spell the time ie ten o'clock.

thanks :)

No one can speak a number. It's impossible. We all speak words. If we could speak numbers, we wouldn't have words that represent numbers.

I hope ten o'clock is okay with you?
"Yes, ten will be fine. Anyone want dessert?
Colin wandered into the kitchen just before ten.

Phouka
09-22-2006, 09:25 AM
I still wouldn't spell out 'six thousand, two-hundred and forty three' in dialog -- I'd write 6,243. It's what I would expect to see. I thought the rule was spell out anything under a hundred (and then also spell out the milestone numbers, like one thousand, four million).

Writing large numbers as text is really awkward to me, and always jars me out of a narrative or piece of dialog. For the time example, I agree it should be "ten" in all cases (being less than one hundred) but eventually the spelled-out versions become cumbersome and detriment to understanding.

Jamesaritchie
09-22-2006, 05:38 PM
I still wouldn't spell out 'six thousand, two-hundred and forty three' in dialog -- I'd write 6,243. It's what I would expect to see. I thought the rule was spell out anything under a hundred (and then also spell out the milestone numbers, like one thousand, four million).

Writing large numbers as text is really awkward to me, and always jars me out of a narrative or piece of dialog. For the time example, I agree it should be "ten" in all cases (being less than one hundred) but eventually the spelled-out versions become cumbersome and detriment to understanding.

It's your writing, but it's physically impossible for anyone to speak a number. It can't be done. And it's seldom realistic if you write it either way in dialogue. I don't care if the number is ten million, when you have a character speak a number, you've just done the impossible, and that's far more jarring to most reading than anything else. It would make me stop reading a writer instantly, and never again pick up a book of his. And as an editor, I'd correct it, or that writer wouldn't sell me a story.

With large numbers, real people generally take shortcuts. If a bank has 6,243 dollars stolen, most people are going to say something like "A bit over six thousand." Or, "Six thousand and change."

But if it comes down to it, there's never been a person who lived that could say "We had 6,243 dollars taken."

If you expect to see numbers come out of a person's mouth, you meet different people than I do, and dialogue is coming out of a person's mouth. Or should be. When you write "6,243" it isn't coming out of that character's mouth, it's coming straight from you.

When a character is speaking, he should be speaking. The writer should never butt in and show the reader his writing. This is author intrusion, and it instantly switches the reader from something a character is saying to something the writer is writing.

It doesn't take much to jolt a reader out of a scene, and having a character do the impossible will cause this to happen instantly.

And you wouldn't have a character say "10,000,000" would you? Isn't it a heck of a lot easier to have him say "ten million."

How large the number is has nothing to do with it. You're the writer, and if you think the number is cumbersome, then change it. But don't have a character do something that's absolutely impossible, and don't butt in on his speech.

When a character wants to say something, then let him talk. If you start writing instead of letting him talk, then you've failed the reader. Numbers can be written, but they can never, ever be spoken. It's completely impossible.

maestrowork
09-22-2006, 05:55 PM
Personally I have no problem with numbers in dialogue. "10" sounds like "ten" to me. And I have seen it either way in published work. It's understood by the readers. It's a preference. Most people don't spell out Mr. or Mrs. or etc. either.

dobiwon
09-22-2006, 07:36 PM
I would prefer to see most numbers spelled out, certainly those less than a hundred, and any round numbers (e.g., one thousand rather than 1000), except when the number is a non-monetary decimal. For example, a scientist saying, "The result of the analysis is 6.23 grams per liter". Maybe it's just because I'm a scientist, but I would find "...six point two three grams per liter" to be very distracting.

Lee G.
09-23-2006, 12:31 AM
There's a good example of how confusing it can be to spell out large numbers in the current issue of The New Yorker, which doubtlessly has a style rule that the writer, Lauren Collins, was forced to follow. The first sentence of her column reads like this:

"It took hundred-and-twenty-five-mile-an-hour winds and a thirty-four-foot storm surge eight hours, last year, to destroy Dot Phillips's house."

Please, when you have to hyphenate seven words together, just use the numerals!

Carmy
09-23-2006, 07:30 PM
Dialogue is 'verbaizing'. How do you verbalize 10? Spell it out.

Allow what is happening around the dialogue to show if the speaker means a.m. or p.m. If you must clarify, add morning or night.

Carmy
09-23-2006, 07:31 PM
Oops, sorry about the typo.

crypticquill
09-23-2006, 08:11 PM
Hmm...I started reading this post with one opinion, but have a new one now that I've finished it, haha.

I definitely think that numbers, times, whatever, that are coming out of a character's mouth, or a narrator's mouth, should be written out.

maestrowork
09-23-2006, 10:33 PM
So you would write out et cetera and Mister and Missis in dialogue?

I do agree on writing out numbers less than 100.

crypticquill
09-23-2006, 10:39 PM
Are you referring to me?

I personally wouldn't write out Mister or Misses, though I have seen Mister written out in older novels. I've also seen et cetera written out, as well, and in new literature, too. When writing stories, I tend to stay away from the use of "etc." anyway, but if a character were saying it, I probably would write out et cetera. That's just me, though.

rekirts
09-24-2006, 12:14 AM
I thought the original examples looked weird so I'd definitely write the numbers out. And if I used et cetera in dialogue, I'd probably write it out, too.

gp101
09-24-2006, 07:48 AM
"10" sounds like "ten" to me. And I have seen it either way in published work.

In dialogue, I've only seen it spelled out.