1 (edited by Dirk B. 2020-12-05 01:06:56)

Topic: Paragraph/dialogue structure questions

I'm trying make my use of paragraphs more consistent in my book. Below are examples that I handled differently and I'm wondering which are most correct.

In the following, I describe actions performed by both Romano (the POV character) and Nnamani, then place their subsequent dialogue in separate paragraphs.

Romano and Nnamani summarized for the council the many supernatural events that had manifested around Connor, including his growing powers and the attacks against him.
Nnamani said, “I have no doubt God is working through Connor.”
“I agree,” Romano said.

Below, both men look at each other, then Nnamani addresses Connor. Romano does not speak here.

Romano and Nnamani looked at each other in alarm. “Explain that!” Nnamani said.
(Connor responds...)

For consistency, I'm almost inclined to move Nnamani's dialogue into a separate paragraph. However, if Romano (the POV character) were to speak that line of dialogue, I would normally keep the two sentences together.

Below is another case. Since the exclamations are generic from the crowd, I'm inclined to keep them together.

The room exploded with outrage. “Nonsense!” someone shouted. “Heresy!” cried another.



Re: Paragraph/dialogue structure questions

I learned to begin on a new line every time a character changes.

Re: Paragraph/dialogue structure questions

I agree with your first and third examples. In the second, I would move the dialogue into a separate paragraph.

I’ve read novels where every dialogue gets a separate paragraph, sometimes without attribution. Can be confusing. I have no problem including the dialogue in the same paragraph of the action as long as the speaker is clear. Being consistent shouldn’t necessarily be the goal, IMO.

Re: Paragraph/dialogue structure questions

You see published writers go both ways.  The important thing is that it's clear.  I would draw the line at two character's speech in the same paragraph, or mixing one character's speech with another's IM.

Re: Paragraph/dialogue structure questions

Thank you, gents. Very helpful. For example three, I reworded it slightly to eliminate the issue:

The room exploded with outrage, with cries of “Nonsense!” and “Heresy!”

Re: Paragraph/dialogue structure questions

Followup thought on that third example: The speakers are not identified; they are anonymous voices in a crowd.  I have no problem with the original way.  The reader doesn't  need to attach any identity to either.