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So I've got a bit:

Alta blinked. She pushed on, smiling, “—the argument. When the argument succeeds, which I still don’t fully deem, even after that—it looks to me like you’ve still got to do all the work of ethical theory to understand what kind of god is getting proven. Assuming we’re after a specific god, instead of just any god at all. I know you aren’t interested a specific holy text to import one”—Alta was suddenly aware in herself of the shivering, empty-stomached quality that comes with an impending psychoactive blurring. But haven’t I limited my intake? What is happening? She inhaled and the momentum of her speech carried her along—“and so not only are we locked to virtue, to greatness? If we want to know anything about this deity, we still have to figure the properties to imagine. That’s a lot of value judgements. Mercy seems believable enough. God’s probably of an intrinsically serene enough character that it should be included in our greatest possible being. There’s plenty of those, I guess. The omni’s, love, whatever. But how about sadness? Is sadness composed within the idea of greatness? Is the greatest possible being also the most emotionally distraught, the truest sufferer? Or not even necessarily the most tragedy-befallen, but the most nobly depressed? How about the horniest? So we’ll stick with Zeus and trash the rest.”

Where a character becomes aware, mid-sentence, of a bodily/mental change going on in themselves and then also with some internal thoughts that are more than a single sentence long. I know this is a bit convoluted but since the character is intoxicated I feel the choppiness is fine.

Are my em dashes in the right place? Also throughout the work I've been making knew paragraphs for Alta's internal dialgoue. So I have some thought that perhaps the this paragraph should look like this instead:

Alta blinked. She pushed on, smiling, “—the argument. When the argument succeeds, which I still don’t fully deem, even after that—it looks to me like you’ve still got to do all the work of ethical theory to understand what kind of god is getting proven. Assuming we’re after a specific god, instead of just any god at all. I know you aren’t interested a specific holy text to import one”—Alta was suddenly aware in herself of the shivering, empty-stomached quality that comes with an impending psychoactive blurring.
But haven’t I limited my intake? What is happening?
She inhaled and the momentum of her speech carried her along—“and so not only are we locked to virtue, to greatness? If we want to know anything about this deity, we still have to figure the properties to imagine. That’s a lot of value judgements. Mercy seems believable enough. God’s probably of an intrinsically serene enough character that it should be included in our greatest possible being. There’s plenty of those, I guess. The omni’s, love, whatever. But how about sadness? Is sadness composed within the idea of greatness? Is the greatest possible being also the most emotionally distraught, the truest sufferer? Or not even necessarily the most tragedy-befallen, but the most nobly depressed? How about the horniest? So we’ll stick with Zeus and trash the rest.”

Any advice here? Since it's not the in-universe dialogue getting cut off (there is barely a pause here as this thought intrudes) I'm pretty sure the em dash doesn't belong inside the quotes, but how about the new paragraph for her internal thoughts? Is it weird for the cut off dialogue to reconnect a paragraph down?

(Forgive me I don't know how to insert indentations within a block quote so things look a little wonky.)

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I would put all the em dashes in the quotes, as they indicate a speaker cutting off. And it does make her pause, given that she stops to inhale. In fact, it might be better to lead the quotes in with ellipses, as restarting speech is rarely sudden in the way cutting off is. Lastly, I would set off the narration in its own paragraph, to prevent muddling it with the monologue and emphasize its intrusiveness.

That would make it look like this.

Alta blinked. She pushed on, smiling, “...the argument. When the argument succeeds, which I still don’t fully deem, even after that—it looks to me like you’ve still got to do all the work of ethical theory to understand what kind of god is getting proven. Assuming we’re after a specific god, instead of just any god at all. I know you aren’t interested a specific holy text to import one—"

Alta was suddenly aware in herself of the shivering, empty-stomached quality that comes with an impending psychoactive blurring. But haven’t I limited my intake? What is happening? She inhaled and the momentum of her speech carried her along.

"...and so not only are we locked to virtue, to greatness? If we want to know anything about this deity, we still have to figure the properties to imagine. That’s a lot of value judgements. Mercy seems believable enough. God’s probably of an intrinsically serene enough character that it should be included in our greatest possible being. There’s plenty of those, I guess. The omni’s, love, whatever. But how about sadness? Is sadness composed within the idea of greatness? Is the greatest possible being also the most emotionally distraught, the truest sufferer? Or not even necessarily the most tragedy-befallen, but the most nobly depressed? How about the horniest? So we’ll stick with Zeus and trash the rest.”

It might be worth noting that what she says doesn't really make sense, and several sentences are ungrammatical. For example, the sentence that gets interrupted is, in full

I know you aren’t interested a specific holy text to import one, and so not only are we locked to virtue, to greatness?

which honestly reads like word salad.

  • I was preparing to comment on the word salad, and then the very next sentence mentioned drugs, so I wasn't sure to be there if confusion a symptom too much dose of. – Deolater Dec 18 '18 at 19:13
  • That initial em dash is from a previous cut off by the char she's talking to. Part of the problem seems to be a bit too much broken dialogue and it's making things look even stranger. I think the em's inside the quotes+separate paragraph looks much better, although I still make those "I" statements read as thoughts more consistently and give them their own line as well. @Deolater is right that mental clouding is to blame, there needs to be some baseline of clarity. My intent with the cadence of her speech was to indicate that she's interrupting herself via all those commas but needs an edit – BrassOrchids Dec 18 '18 at 22:27
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    @BrassOrchids The "I" statements could also be italicized, as it's a reasonably common way to set apart internal monologue. But there seems to be some debate whether that's "proper". – eyeballfrog Dec 18 '18 at 22:58

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