46

Visually distinguishing a character's dialogue is not a bad idea. Sir Terry Pratchett used this tool quite a lot. Most notably, his Death spoke in ALL CAPS, including small caps when needed. (Small caps make reading significantly easier than just all caps.) There was also a special font used for the Golems' speech in Feet of Clay, a character in The Amazing ...


40

Harry Potter is not a wall of text. It uses line breaks, paragraphs, headings and chapters. That’s the opposite of a "wall of text", which simply means "a lot of text without formatting, line breaks, paragraphs or any typesetting whatsoever". As long as you properly format your answers, long answers are not bad in any form. Start with a short summary of ...


25

Your first option is, really, Pandoc, which was already mentioned. Its usage is quite straightforward. I've done some converting along these lines myself, and it's brilliant. It's included in Debian repositories, so I'd think acquiring an installation wouldn't be a problem. You indeed want to convert to HTML first: pandoc OdtFile.odt -o HtmlFile.html and ...


25

I myself have been criticised on at least one occasion for using too many semicolons in my writing. I hadn't noticed at the time, but I really was overusing them. It's one of the quirks of my writing style that I now try and consciously tone down, along with starting dialogue paragraphs with "the character did this" and my inability to go three pages without ...


24

I remember seeing lines separated with slashes in several books, although those were all non-fictional. This results in: "Cruella De Vil / Cruella De Vil / If she doesn't scare you / No evil thing will / [...]" I think some form of punctuation is necessary because often lyrics have line breaks at other places than the end of sentences, making it ...


23

Blender's right, it's messy. But, by writing it as you suggest, you really get a feel for the moment. I really like it! But if you do it like this: "I-"-she hit the bag-"-really"-hit-"-don't"-hit-"care." Hearing it sounds as messy as seeing it. Punctuating the sentence cleanly and correctly is key. So, rather than use ellipses or dashes, I'd stick with ...


21

It's not that it's always a bad thing - and to directly answer your question it can be appropriate to use it. Where it's bad is when it is over-used, specifically when the writer relies on it to place the emphasis they "hear" on the words but without actually conveying the particulars of that emphasis to the reader. Imagine you're trying to show a ...


20

It sounds like the divisions emerged organically and intrinsically from the story – that's how it should be. Don't worry that some are long and some are short. That's not a flaw. Forcing the story to fit a rigid, arbitrary amount of pages – like a screenplay that must introduce pre-requisite conflicts at "percentages" of running time to fit cinema turnover ...


20

Check out Tolkiens "Lord of the Rings." There are poems, and I think lyrics there. Some even in Sindarin (I think, to be honest, I skimmed past most of it). It was done in italics (some editions), with an indent (left and right, in some editions; one edition looks like the block of verse is about half the width of the book page and centered [the ...


19

I would say it is definitely a new paragraph if only to indicate 'he' didn't say 'I thought ...'. I teach that you start a new paragraph when you change speaker, place, time or character. Here the change is character.


16

Italic text is the most common format for telepathic communications. Savil spotted the soldiers filing into the pass and called up to her nephew. Get into position. They're here, she sent. And the demon? he asked. I can smell it from halfway up the mountain, Savil confirmed. Sometimes other punctuation is thrown in to set telepathic speech apart ...


16

Assuming you aren't self-publishing, all concerns about the font-size and typography belong to the final publisher (unless you're playing fancy games with fonts, which is rare, and probably not a good idea for most authors). Instead of worrying about pages, you should focus on word count. 50,000 is generally considered the bare minimum for a viable novel (...


15

In general, to convey poetic line breaks in "continuous text", replace the line break with a slash. "I've never seen a purple cow./I never hope to see one./But I can tell you anyhow,/I'd rather see than be one." I don't use Twitter so I can't say if this convention is commonly used there, but it's the normal convention in other contexts.


15

As with every element of style, it depends on context. In modern American fiction, semicolons are avoided; but trends do change, and old-fashioned modes of expression that were once considered effete affectations are coming back into fashion. Personally, I love semicolons and use them frequently, but only in non-fiction, when I'm conveying complex ...


15

This is called the multi-paragraph quotation rule; see here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/96608/why-does-the-multi-paragraph-quotation-rule-exist Also read the top accepted answer there, for an explanation as to why we do it that way (so we don't have to re-identify who is speaking for every new paragraph).


14

Typically, in a prose novel, you would describe the brochure, not reproduce it. After patiently listening to my story, she pulled out a resort brochure titled Transformation Intensive Programme, and pointing out with the pen in her hand she said; “Here, this one looks like something interesting for you." It cost £1500! It would be possible to include ...


14

Besides Death in the books of Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE (10 Doctors and a Professor omitted), there are lots of precedents for special font or alignment for various usages. The Bible In contrast to some modern prints (see below), the 42-line Gutenberg Bible in Latin of 1454 (part 1) (part 2) uses the same font for everything and no special ...


13

Format it the same way, with blockquote indents, and if you can add a little dialogue before and after, you don't have to worry about weird quote mark placement. Bilbo stood and cleared his throat. "I have a new poem for you all," he announced. "It goes thus:     All that is gold does not glitter,     Not all those ...


13

The key word is unformatted. Harry Potter is a set of novels which have paragraphs, reported speech broken out into lines and so on - the normal readability aids. I also note that the Harry Potter books get thicker as the series goes on; it might not have taken off if the first book was Order of the Phoenix. The "wall of text" is much less of an issue in ...


13

I agree that flat-out banishment of any tool (adverbs, semicolons, etc.) is almost certainly wrong. Though many editors and agents will shake their heads if you use more than one or two semicolons in a novel. They are pretty far out of style. Looking at your examples is instructive, though. Semicolons seem particularly unnatural in dialogue. Nobody ...


13

So you want to write the story of your life, but are more comfortable with verse than with prose? Why not think of it as a strength rather than a weakness? You're expressing your life in verse, right? Then why not take that verse, arrange it in a way that makes sense, add a couple of sentences to connect the disparate bits, and voila, you've got a memoir in ...


13

Behold! The Mighty Ellipses! The demon...she? he?...gestured towards the supply wagons. Ultimately, it's a matter of personal style. Dashes, parentheses, ellipses are all correct. Part of the reason I prefer ellipses here is, as Amadeus points out, the gender ponderings aren't really an interruption. It's an aside. The narrator's mind is wandering. ...


12

Offsetting a single sentence as it's own paragraph is one way to emphasize that sentence or idea, and yes, you will see this done in the books you read. It is a more common device in some genres and age ranges than others. Keep in mind that some writers, especially novices, use this device more heavily than maybe they should. Too much becomes exhausting to ...


12

First of all, I'll admit I had some trouble identifying who said “I thought you said that name was already taken?” I'm assuming that Oddie said it in reaction to Arden's suggestion and that Nat, the narrator, got exasperated when Arden shrugged. Please let me know if I got it wrong. Option 2 “We can just call her Rose,” Arden suggests, leaning back on ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible