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Dialogue question

(7 Posts)
ComradePlexiglass Thu 27-Nov-14 07:00:00

How do you write it down/convey when a character starts to say one word and abruptly changes it to another?

e.g. Character wants to say: "You have a very sexy voice."
Thinks better of it and changes to: "You have a verymusical voice."
But part of the word sexy is articulated, so:
"You have a very sec- musical- voice."

Is there a way to make this stylistically clear to the reader?

ImperialBlether Thu 27-Nov-14 12:19:26

I'd rather not know that he was going to say 'sexy' - I'd want to bring my own interpretation to it. So I'd probably write:

"You have a very..." He paused and met my eyes for a long moment, "... musical voice."

However, I'm not sure where the capitals and punctuation go there - would 'He' be capitalised?

What about: He looked at me for a long moment, until I felt my face flush and I had to look away. "You," he said, "have a very... musical voice."

Are you wanting us to think that he thinks she has a sexy voice? Is this the sentence you're working on or just an example?

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 27-Nov-14 13:59:25

Punctuation wise, you'd use an em-dash (long dash) rather than an en-dash (hyphen) and only the one before, not the one after.

I'd also be inclined to put 'sex--' rather than 'sec--' because otherwise the reader will be trying to think of words that begin 'sec-' (secretarial? secular?)

It's still a bit confusing, partly because 'sex' is a word in itself. Thus I might be tempted to go for 'seduc-' or 'erot-' instead.

Alternatively, you might want to put a beat in the middle of the phrase.
'You have a very sex--' He broke off. 'Musical voice.' [not sure if I've punctuated that properly but you get the idea]

ComradePlexiglass Thu 27-Nov-14 19:03:25

Thank you both. V helpful. The story is all in dialogue so there are no beat opportunities at the moment. Yes, important that the reader knows that he thinks that she has a sexy voice but it's slightly inappropriate to say so in the particular context of their conversation so he corrects himself. I've utilised the "..." quite a bit already earlier on and wanted to proceed to a direct slip up.

Agree that seduc may be better than sex. Thanks.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 27-Nov-14 19:42:04

Of course, the slip-up tells us something about his character as well - '...' would make him more poised. (That's not meant to be a helpful comment, just pondering what it all means!)

ImperialBlether Thu 27-Nov-14 21:00:07

If it's a bloke we're meant to fancy, I'd prefer it if he stopped himself from saying the word and just hesitated. Shows more control!

ComradePlexiglass Fri 28-Nov-14 05:44:56

Hmm. I see where you're coming from. But I'm trying to show how his poise/control is slipping a bit at this stage of the game due to her
seductive musical voice among other sexy things! (Shame you can't use strikethroughs in dialogue!) Thank you so much for your help, both of you. Much appreciated.

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