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Breaking Sentnece Fragments

Crumbly Writer

Another interesting dilemma. In order to eliminate multiple "he continued" identifiers, I'm switching to action identifiers. The only problem is, that results in multiple complete sentences utilizing fragments of sentences in dialogue.

I know that's confusing, but I'm going from this:

"I got a beautiful feelin'," he continued, pummeling one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin'," he sang, rising to his climax as he stabbed another with his umbrella, "my way."

to this:

"I got a beautiful feelin'." He pummeling one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin'," he sang, rising to his climax as he stabbed another with his umbrella, "my way."

The question is, do those multiple dialogue fragments make sense as they're written here, or do I need the "he continued" identifier to make sense of the dialogue?

Note: Don't even ask about the context, as it's a fairly complicated plot premise which is a bit difficult to explain without multiple plot spoilers.

Ernest Bywater

I'd tend to do it a different way. Here I'm assuming he's just started to sing - thus I'd write something like this:

While singing, "I got a beautiful feelin'," he pummeled one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin', my way," when he stabbed another with his umbrella.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I'd tend to do it a different way. Here I'm assuming he's just started to sing - thus I'd write something like this:

While singing, "I got a beautiful feelin'," he pummeled one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin', my way," when he stabbed another with his umbrella.

Noted, but the same problem exists. Does it make sense, breaking the one sentence of dialogue between multiple sentences, or is that stretching the use of dialogue (and identifiers) to the breaking point?

By the way, the book is filled with these scenes, though not all of them involve singing.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


"I got a beautiful feelin'." He pummeling one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin'," he sang, rising to his climax as he stabbed another with his umbrella, "my way."


He sang, "I got a beautiful feelin'," as he pummeled one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it (him?) spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin'..." He stabbed another with his umbrella. "...my way."

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Does it make sense, breaking the one sentence of dialogue between multiple sentences, or is that stretching the use of dialogue (and identifiers) to the breaking point?


It's a common thing to break dialogue up with actions or tags, the hard part is deciding how many slices best suit the scene you're building.

Thinking about the scene above, I'd be more likely to write:

He pummeled one pencil-yielding accountant and spun it into the wall while singing, "I've got a beautiful feeling." His stab of another accompanied, "Ev'erything's goin', my way."

Crumbly Writer

Considering it again, the song fragments aren't interrupted sentences, they're song stanzas, which are typically sung as a separate unit, thus mixing them with action tags is appropriate.

Given that, I don't think it's as much of a problem as I anticipated.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

If nothing exists to show what you want, invent your own convention!
I'd consider using a tilda instead of ellipses or em-dash to show speech/singing to be continued in the same paragraph.
I think readers would accept that. Obviously, the first time you do it you need very well known words (like from a popular song in your example) so it is blatantly obvious you are using a device to connect words which logically go together, even though they are physically separated in the text.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Considering it again, the song fragments aren't interrupted sentences, they're song stanzas, which are typically sung as a separate unit, thus mixing them with action tags is appropriate.

Given that, I don't think it's as much of a problem as I anticipated.

If you had not stated not all examples were from songs, I would have suggested using a slash showing new lines when poetry is quoted in text.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
pcbondsman

@Crumbly Writer

My opinion based on what you have here, dump the "he continued" it adds nothing but two words/eight or nine characters.

Just for grins though, what the Hxxx is a "pencil yielding accountant"? Or would that be a spoiler? It would make a lot more sense as "pencil-wielding".

Ernest Bywater

@pcbondsman

Hxxx is a "pencil yielding accountant"?


He's the junior one who hands out the pencils to the people who come in to fill out forms.

Replies:   pcbondsman
pcbondsman

@Ernest Bywater

I erred. Hxxx should have been H*** does that make more sense? (I can't do upper case stars.) Perhaps HE**? :)

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

If nothing exists to show what you want, invent your own convention!
I'd consider using a tilda instead of ellipses or em-dash to show speech/singing to be continued in the same paragraph.

Are there any html codes for musical notes/symbols? If so, you could hard-code them in the submissions, making it obvious it's lyrics being sung.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

If you had not stated not all examples were from songs, I would have suggested using a slash showing new lines when poetry is quoted in text.

In the examples I'm discussing, they're all different stanzas of the same song (I was referring to other examples where I might try this).

Crumbly Writer

@pcbondsman

Just for grins though, what the Hxxx is a "pencil yielding accountant"? Or would that be a spoiler? It would make a lot more sense as "pencil-wielding".

I'm guessing he's terrified of pencils? That's always the problem with offering pre-edited text as examples.

And yeah, explaining the 'pencil-wielding accountants', and why they're 'it's' instead of 'he', are all plot giveaways (though it'll be some time before the story appears on SOL, I still have another story to post first).

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

While singing, "I got a beautiful feelin'," he pummeled one pencil-yielding accountant, sending it spiraling into the wall. "Ev'erything's goin', my way," when he stabbed another with his umbrella.

Several good versions including that by Switch Blayde. My only suggestion for the above quote would be to substitute "whilst" for "when"

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

On the advice of a musician friend, I added a musical note symbol and made the song lyrics italics, to help differentiate them. I'm including it below, but I seriously doubt the musical note will display properly on the forum (if it doesn't, the html code is "& #9835;" (without the space):

"♫Oh, what a beautiful mornin'," he proclaimed, breaking into song, despite it was pouring outside and everyone's coats were still wet. Everyone glanced up to see what the disturbance was. "♫Oh, what a beautiful day …" He spun in a circle, his cane and umbrella flashing past several people's heads.

Personally, I think that's a massive improvement with a little extra formatting.

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