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Multi person conversations

 
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Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 2141
Location: England

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:05 pm    Post subject: Multi person conversations Reply with quote

So - obviously I mean more than two people here. Say you've got a group of 3+ discovering an issue - they're all meant to be about the same sort of intelligence level so you don't have one person 'holding court' as you might at the pub.

How do you shape the discussion so that you're not going X said Y replied Z said Y replied, X said....

Seems to me you're either going to be blocking - i.e. naming those involved and then having two people interplay for a section

x said
y said
""
""
""
Z said....
X said
""
""
""

Or desperately trying to vary your descriptions so that you mention the name for each person's speaking bit

Blah de blah de blah
X said, fiddling with her glasses
Y ...

Suppose you could mix and match so that you've got some blocking and a bit of description but that makes it a little unclear.

How'd you people handle it?
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Wren



Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 797
Location: In my head, wondering how so many manage to step outside theirs.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd throw in descriptions of the environment, as you said, or give them different accents.
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Asa



Joined: 10 Apr 2008
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Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Wren (as late as we both are), and use action to vary the descriptions. I doubt your characters sit absolutely still while they talk, anyway. Or have them think out loud, since they're "discovering an idea". Which allows for larger blocks of speech, and decreases the need for incessant description.

Another thing to consider is that if this is late in the story, and if your characters have truly distinctive voices (beyond dialect), then the reader will know who's who and you won't need the description beyond an occasional reminder.
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Maeniel



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
Posts: 1081
Location: Next to Waldo

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like you said, I would try to break it up with action even if it's something as simple as "Sean blinked" or "Stacy fidgeted." Or you could modify what Asa said and have them think internally if you have an omniscient narrator. It could still be helpful if one person is just thinking and letting the other two talk out whatever it is that needs discovering.

I don't think there's really any particularly great way to do it. Unless, of course, you would like to make each person's speech a different color. But I think that both your eyes and your readers' eyes might bleed.
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Absinthe



Joined: 23 May 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Narnia

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've found it useful to throw in how they say something.
For example:

X: I am so bored.
Y: We could fix that for you.
Z: We could?
X: I think I'll pass.

Then -

"I am so bored," X groaned.
Y smirked. "We could fix that for you," he replied, glancing at Z.
Z blinked owlishly. "We could?"
"I think I'll pass," X muttered.
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