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Ella
03-13-2005, 10:01 PM
Feeling stupid, but asking anyway.
How often, if ever, can you get away with writing speech as follows:

“It doesn’t look like we can outrun him on the freeway. I’m going to round up some help.” Julien said, as he raced through a yellow light, and then another.

There are some points when it just feels horrible to have a comma at the end of the speech before the speech tag. (This is not the greatest example.) How often can a writer get away with this, if at all? I imagine it will depend on the individual editor/publisher to some degree. Any thoughts?

Ella

Lauri B
03-14-2005, 04:09 AM
I would avoid doing that by eliminating the "Julien said" part. So it would read,
"I doesn't look like we can outrun him on the freeway. I'm going to round up some help." Julien raced through a yellow light, and then another.

Alphabeter
03-23-2005, 01:07 PM
Something I found interesting:

When I read the first post in this thread, I thought of how I would rewrite it.

I scrolled down and saw Nomad's answer. It was identical.

I feel better.

maestrowork
03-23-2005, 06:49 PM
Nomad's answer is sound.

I usually use dialogue tags only when it's necessary to distinguish the speakers. Also, I use them for "beats" as in:

"I don't know," she said. "I really don't know."

reph
03-26-2005, 12:05 PM
You can use a comma instead of the second period, but what Nomad suggested is tighter writing. (Tighter is a good thing.)

Maryn
04-10-2005, 12:49 AM
Something I found interesting:

When I read the first post in this thread, I thought of how I would rewrite it.

I scrolled down and saw Nomad's answer. It was identical.

I feel better.I'm late arriving, but mine was also word-for-word identical, before I saw Nomad's.

Of course, there was a time all thinking people agreed the world was flat...

Maryn

azbikergirl
04-10-2005, 01:42 AM
I know that others have offered a different way of structuring the sentence, but to address why the example in its original form wouldn't work, I'm going to dissect it just because I'm in that sort of mood. :Lecture:


“It doesn’t look like we can outrun him on the freeway. I’m going to round up some help.” Julien said, as he raced through a yellow light, and then another.
The verb 'to say' is usually transitive, meaning it takes a direct object. We say something, we don't just say. To most people, the sentence

Julien said, as he raced through a yellow light, and then another.
would sound incomplete -- we'd ask 'what did Julien say?' The answer, of course, is
“It doesn’t look like we can outrun him on the freeway. I’m going to round up some help.”
That's why a comma between the dialog and 'Julien said' would be more correct -- the quoted text is the object of the sentence -- the what gets said.

JAlpha
04-10-2005, 01:55 AM
Feeling stupid, but asking anyway.
How often, if ever, can you get away with writing speech as follows:

“It doesn’t look like we can outrun him on the freeway. I’m going to round up some help.” Julien said, as he raced through a yellow light, and then another.

There are some points when it just feels horrible to have a comma at the end of the speech before the speech tag. (This is not the greatest example.) How often can a writer get away with this, if at all? I imagine it will depend on the individual editor/publisher to some degree. Any thoughts?

Ella


Honestly, I fear passive-like constructions like . . . as he raced through . . . more than I do a misplaced comma, because for me the word "as" often takes the emphasis away from the subjects actions--if not technically, then theoretically.

In all matters regarding what a character feels and says, I try to follow a feeling, action,
speech sequence . . .

“It doesn’t look like we can outrun him on the freeway." Julian raced through a yellow light, and then another. "I’m going to round up some help.”

Removing the passive voice adds energy to the dialogue.

Yes??????

JAlpha

the debster
04-10-2005, 04:28 AM
I completely agree, JAlpha.

Any way possible to get rid of pesky tags like "he said/she said" in an active manner such as you described is doing your reader a huge favor. Particularly in an action sequence.

DJLedford

Ella
04-10-2005, 04:54 AM
That's why a comma between the dialog and 'Julien said' would be more correct -- the quoted text is the object of the sentence -- the what gets said.

Wow. Thanks for all the feedback, guys. My original question being missed entirely - is it completely wrong to ever have the period before an 'he said' to give the end of the speech some punch? (azbikergirl touched on it.) We use question and exclamation marks to get the point across. Why not a period instead of an exclamation point?

reph
04-10-2005, 05:57 AM
Removing the passive voice adds energy to the dialogue.

Ella's example doesn't contain passive voice.

Active voice: "The bear ate the man."
Passive voice: "The man was eaten by the bear."

azbikergirl
04-10-2005, 05:58 AM
My only grammar reference book is Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. They discuss the comma being inside the quotes when the dialog is followed by an attributive phrase:

"It's dark in here," she said.

But they don't come out and state that a period is wrong. I don't recall ever seeing a period used in published works. You might see if you can find an example of it, and let that be your guide. A comma is correct. But so is a question mark and exclamation point. Whether a period is wrong is a matter of debate. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. Let's Google for this question and see if we come up with anything 'authoritative.'

azbikergirl
04-10-2005, 06:01 AM
Ella's example doesn't contain passive voice.

Active voice: "The bear ate the man."
Passive voice: "The man was eaten by the bear."

Good point, Reph. Neither is
He was a man.
passive voice, although a lot of finger pointing goes on as soon as someone uses the verb 'to be' in the past tense. :)

reph
04-10-2005, 12:42 PM
But they don't come out and state that a period is wrong.
"It's dark in here," she said.

Ending the quoted speech with a period would make "It's dark in here" into a sentence by itself, and "she said" would be left hanging. The speech and "she said" form a unit not to be broken up. "She said" doesn't amount to a sentence: the verb "said" has no object. (The whole speech "It's dark in here" is the object of "said.")

Ella
04-10-2005, 09:16 PM
So glad all those years of English went right through me. :)
Thanks, reph and others! Been a help.

azbikergirl
04-10-2005, 10:17 PM
"It's dark in here," she said.

Ending the quoted speech with a period would make "It's dark in here" into a sentence by itself, and "she said" would be left hanging. The speech and "she said" form a unit not to be broken up. "She said" doesn't amount to a sentence: the verb "said" has no object. (The whole speech "It's dark in here" is the object of "said.")

I agree, but M-W.com states that the verb to say has an intransitive sense, meaning it does not require a direct object. I cannot imagine an example where that would sound right, other than, "Say, old chap. Can you spare a dime?" Most of us use that verb in the transitive sense only, which means using a direct object as I stated in a previous post: We say something. We don't just say.

reph
04-10-2005, 11:05 PM
I agree, but M-W.com states that the verb to say has an intransitive sense, meaning it does not require a direct object. I cannot imagine an example where that would sound right, other than, "Say, old chap. Can you spare a dime?" Most of us use that verb in the transitive sense only, which means using a direct object as I stated in a previous post: We say something. We don't just say.
What's the intransitive use? Does M-W say?

There must be an intransitive sense if M-W says so.

LOL, as they say.

Enough examples now? Oh, you don't say!

But...
"Say" is definitely transitive when it's part of a speech tag. She (subject) said (verb), "It's dark in here" (object of verb). Inversion to "'It's dark in here,' she said" doesn't change the verb to intransitive.

azbikergirl
04-11-2005, 01:46 AM
What's the intransitive use? Does M-W say?
Nah! That might actually be useful. :D