Things about dialogue we can’t understand because we read to fast.

I’ve just gotten my manuscript back from a copy-editor. They’ve done a fantastic job. But it has left me a little insecure in a creative choice that I’ve made.

“Rather than use the tradition dialogue format.” Arthur said.

Hppo – “for longer sections of back and forth dialog. He has placed the speaker tag like a play before the dialog.”

“But when there is more than two characters in a given scene as an author and a reader… a rather slow reader. I can get lost on whom is speaking.” Anthony chimed in.

Hppo – “If you’re a fast to moderate reader. You wouldn’t ever notice the speaker comes after the dialog. I mean in English in general we place adjectives before the noun. We say the big red plastic ball. But in Spanish and most other languages they put the noun before the adjectives. They say a ball it’s big, it’s red, it’s also plastic.”

Arthur – “That is the great thing about English though because we put forth the adjectives first when the noun is made clear all the adjectives attach without resistance.” Putting his finger inches from Hppo’s to drill the point into his head. “If you start with a noun… Take a car. Boom, now the audience is thinking about an impala, Lexus, and that one guy in the back is still thinking about his first car a puke lime-green gremlin. It’s harder to get the audience to change their mind and think of the car you wanted to describe after introducing the noun. How easy is it to switch that gremlin he has in his mind to the Dodge charger you wanted to talk about?”

Hppo swatted away an imaginary fly at the end of his nose whipping back his head til Arthur dropped his finger and was ready to listen again.

“Sometimes you’ll know who is talking because of the previous sentence but the point I think he is trying to make with dialog is the speaker is not a noun but an adjective. When you read dialogue and don’t know who is speaking til the he said, she said tag appears after. Your mind doesn’t add the flavor that a dialog can have. Look if you don’t know if Arthur is speaking you don’t add his lisp or if you think Arthur is speaking you add a lisp when in reality Anthony in his soothing but slow baritone is speaking.”

“That’s ridiculous. Dialog has been structured this way for hundreds of years. Readers won’t get lost and add the improper. “FLAVOR” just because the dialog tag has been hidden.” Anthony coughed as Arthur mocked the word flavor.

Anthony – “You can’t see it though because you don’t read as slow as me.”

Arthur – “I read at an average speed.”

Hppo – “But if you did read slower. Maybe you could see that dialog tags after a long sentence don’t give the reader the information they need before they’ve formed their opinion.” Hppo shrugged about to give up.

Anthony slowly worked back Arthur’s logic. “Take your car example this is no different. That one guy in the back of the room is still thinking of his shitty gremlin becuase you’ve said car. What if the reader thought that I were talking in my deep voice only to find out that you with your silly lisp where the speaker. We now have to hope that unlike the gremlin guy they can change all the thoughts they were having to be in line with what I the author was trying to say in the first place.”

Hppo – “You see even with an average reading speed you take all the information in, almost at once, and you haven’t flavored the dialogue with who you thought was speaking and the mannerism they carry. But if you have a slower reading speed you’ll become frustrated because the whole time you were hearing lisps when you should have been hearing something low and soothing. And if you get frustrated you’ll stop reading. If you stop reading you won’t get your reading speed up.”

Arthur – ” What is it that online guru is always saying… You only get better at doing push-ups by doing push-ups… right?” Arthur was coming around. Hppo and Anthony knew that when he started a tangent it was because he was about to change his opinion but make it seem like it was own independent thought and not due to any of the data presented before him. If he just accepted it as true then he would be losing the argument but if he had a eureka moment then he wins the argument by introducing new evidence that supports his brilliant idea. “You can read books about doing push-ups or watch movies and fitness videos but if you don’t do the push-ups you won’t get better at them. But you don’t have to start off with diamond press push-ups if you’re out of shape you can start with incline push-ups against a wall or a table till you’re strong enough to lift your own weight. So by placing the tags before the spoken word you say you’re making an easier push-up so the reader can get stronger , get their reading speed higher.”

Hppo – “I’m glad we could see things your way.”

That’s the problem I know I’m smart enough to justify anything and that’s why I’m a little insecure about this choice. Only time will tell if it is the right one or not.

‘Til then with love,


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