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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In writing, each new person speaking dialogue gets a new paragraph. My question is: If two people are speaking at the exact same time, would it be a good idea to put them in the same paragraph or should they still be separate? I think not, but I want to check.

Here are my examples:
Option 1:
"Thank you, Milady. This has become as close to a home as I've ever had," Frath told her sincerely. "If anything ever happens to me, would you look after Sheela for me?"
"No!" Sheela exclaimed.
"Of course, but nothing's going to happen to you. I insist," Lady Pallon said at the exact same time and stuck out her tongue.

Option 2:
"Thank you, Milady. This has become as close to a home as I've ever had," Frath told her sincerely. "If anything ever happens to me, would you look after Sheela for me?"
"No!" Sheela exclaimed. "Of course, but nothing's going to happen to you. I insist," Lady Pallon said at the exact same time and stuck out her tongue.
 

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How about:

“Thank you, Milady.  This has become as close to a home as I’ve ever had,” Frath told her sincerely.  “If anything ever happens to me, would you look after Sheela for me?”

“No!” Sheela exclaimed.  “Of course, but nothing’s going to happen to you."

Lady Pallon cut in, "I insist!" and stuck out her tongue.

 

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ToniD said:
How about:

"Thank you, Milady. This has become as close to a home as I've ever had," Frath told her sincerely. "If anything ever happens to me, would you look after Sheela for me?"

"No!" Sheela exclaimed. "Of course, but nothing's going to happen to you."

Lady Pallon cut in, "I insist!" and stuck out her tongue.
This is why the Kindle Boards are a magical place - it's the one place you can go when you've got the mean reds in your writing process and have your spirits lifted ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
ToniD said:
How about:

"Thank you, Milady. This has become as close to a home as I've ever had," Frath told her sincerely. "If anything ever happens to me, would you look after Sheela for me?"

"No!" Sheela exclaimed. "Of course, but nothing's going to happen to you."

Lady Pallon cut in, "I insist!" and stuck out her tongue.
"Of course, but nothing's going to happen to you." is said by Lady Pallon actually. I think I should keep the paragraphs separate. There seems to be very good reason for doing so. ;)
 

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Pretty sure you got your answer, but I'd go with option one of the two choices you presented.

The only time I used two different dialogue speakers in the same paragraph was when the story was in someone else's POV entirely. Something like, "No!," person1 said, the same time person2 said, "Yes!". I may have even taken it out, but I can't remember for sure. *makes note to look for it*
 

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Terrence OBrien said:
"We simply have to get to..."
"No." He cut her off. "We don't have to get to anything."
Actually, that's wrong. Ellipses (…) indicate trailing off. Em dashes (-) indicate interruption.

Therefore:

"We simply have to get to-"
"No." He cut her off. "We don't have to get to anything."
Note that if the - symbol is not available, the appropriate replacement is --, 2 hyphens without a space in-between. Em dashes may or may not have a space separating them from the words on either side, but must be consistent throughout the work. (So "Helen-and Tom, for that matter-went to the party" = "Helen - and Tom, for that matter - went to the party".) The former is preferred by The Chicago Manual of Style, and the latter is preferred by the AP Stylebook.

I'm speaking in terms of US grammar, btw.
 

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Carradee said:
Note that if the - symbol is not available, the appropriate replacement is --, 2 hyphens without a space in-between. Em dashes may or may not have a space separating them from the words on either side, but must be consistent throughout the work. (So "Helen-and Tom, for that matter-went to the party" = "Helen - and Tom, for that matter - went to the party".) The former is preferred by The Chicago Manual of Style, and the latter is preferred by the AP Stylebook.

I'm speaking in terms of US grammar, btw.
It's useful to keep in mind, too, that non-space-separated em-dashes are NOT handled well by most popular ebook readers. If there's no space, it's the same word seems to be the rule. *twitch* I'm not sure how they deal with hair-spaces - any experiences?

I prefer, looks-wise, an en-dash surrounded by standard spaces. And before someone clouts me with the Chicago Manual of Style - a) I'm Australian, therefore thoroughly entitled to use British standards if it suits me and b) Standards are in place for the convenience of the reader, not the publisher... it's ridiculous to stick to antiquated guidelines just because. I'm not accusing anyone of doing so, mind you - I just don't like, "this is the way you should do it because this is the way it's done". ;)
 

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modwitch said:
I'm curious about this. I use them in my writing, and it looks fine on my Kindle. What kinds of misbehaving do you see, and on which e-readers?
Two main areas on the Kindle (and I think Sonys are the same):

Dodgy line-breaking
I see paragraphs like this all the time:

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah (insert much space here) blah
blah-blah (insert much space here) blah
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah.

It might depend, too, on what size font you're using. I use a largeish size, and therefore probably get hit with it more often.

Dictionary lookup

Example: Cannot find "Roger--though" in the dictionary (Kindle assumes it's all one word, and searches as such).
 

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Searate them. I even separate actins from dialogue, when the action belongs to the other character. Remember, whatever you do, legibility for the the reader is paramount. If it confuses the reader, it's wrong. Also, once you've decided on a certain pattern of paragraph creation, stick to it. Few things irk a reader more than inconsistency.

Edward C. Patterson
 
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