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Thread: The squiggly left of the exclaimation point and its place in dialogue.

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  1. #1
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    Default The squiggly left of the exclaimation point and its place in dialogue.

    I have a question about using a particular "punctuation" mark in dialogue. The mark in question is the "~".

    So, for an example: "Katie has a crush~" The squiggly mark (who's real name escapes me) is being used to show a high-low or a low-high tonal fluctuation or shift within the preceding word, giving it kind of a teasing or whimsical tone to it.

    I've seen one or two people doing this, and I was wondering what peoples' thoughts were. Is it too much of a shortcut? Or does it provide an easy way to keep the mood and pace of the dialogue without worrying about breaking it up with long descriptions of how the character is speaking, since it's hard to convey complex tones of voice using words?
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013

  2. #2
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    Google always has the answers.

    It's called a tilde, and it's used as shorthand to mean "approximately" or "similar to." For instance, "the cake takes ~30 minutes to bake" or "potatoes ~ sweet potatoes." It's not used very commonly in that manner, however. (You will have noticed by now that I use it to sign my posts, for instance. That's one of its most common uses these days.)

    That said, no, the tilde is not used in writing. Over the internet it has gained use as a signifier of tonality, but much like you wouldn't use "&" instead of "and," you would not include a tilde in a professional piece of writing. To get tone across in dialogue, you're limited to question marks and exclamation marks, as well as words. That's the way it goes.

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  3. #3
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    Pretty much what Psychic said. The tilde is only used to denote tone (specifically a sing-song or extremely chipper tone) in chatspeak, so using it in dialogue is basically the equivalent of punctuating a sentence with a smiley face. There's definitely ways to avoid using the tilde and to describe someone's tone in a non-chatspeak manner; one possible way is just saying something along the lines of "he said in a sing-song manner." That tends to be stronger anyway in the minds of a reader because while the tilde does its job in chatspeak, describing someone's tone in words allows us to imagine pitches or emotions. (Same thing with using smiley faces or icons in your narration, incidentally. Just describing someone's facial features or telling us which Pokémon you're talking about or what-have-you actually gives a reader a more solid mental image than using extremely skimpy description and a smiley face.)

    ...Well, that and it's easier to take someone seriously if they don't use chatspeak in their fic.

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    Okay, thanks. I was wondering about whether it should be used in professional writing or not, since I have seen it once for twice, but figured those might be exceptions. Good to know for sure.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013

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    It's one of those things that I think has started to bleed over into fanfiction because of its place in comics. I noticed this effect happening with multiple punctuation marks. I have a habit of using multiple explanation points or question marks in my writing. To me, it just make the sentence "sound better." Well, it was called out and I've tried to tone it down, but was slightly bothered by the fact that my brain refused to let go of the idea that they make the tone of a sentence more precise, and I could not for the life of me find out why.

    Then I found the answer. Comics use this ALL THE TIME. In fact, go grab a Pokemon manga and you'll find that any time exclamation points are present more often than not there will be multiples. It makes sense because comics are a visual medium that can get away with using visual effects like playing with text and punctuation for maximum impact. The use of the tilde falls neatly in line with that, because it accents the way the sentence is said. But since prose has things like dialogue tags, this is not necessary, and using visual tricks in a verbal medium can be distracting.

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    Actually, this kind of what-you-called-unprofessional punctuation is not only limited in comics and mangas, but in fact it does appears in novels, specifically the Japanese novel category that called "Light Novel".

    "Light Novel" is the kind of novel that had become popular within the recent 20 years. It is the novel developed from the otaku entertainment culture of Japan for the mere purpose of entertainment. To describe it in the most simple meaning, Light Novel is tight with Anime, Manga and Video Games, it is now the fourth main product of the Japanese otaku culture.
    Light Novels are all fictions, but one difference it has from normal formal "professional" fiction novels is that the light novels are all set in Japanese anime-style fictional world, the illustrations within the novel are also all anime-style, writers and readers also depict the content of the novel in anime-style.

    Well, technically speaking Light Novel is novel in anyway, but still they use such "unprofessional" punctuations to the largest extent. Those includes multiple exclamation marks, tildes, very long dots and very long dashes, etc. However, they will not use any smiley faces and non-punctuation marks like hearts and sweats.

    I will rather called those punctuations as "informal", but not "unprofessional". There are many very professional light novel writers in Japan that wrote light novels for more then 10 years, but they still use such informal punctuations in their current novels. In the opposite, one will find very few "informal" punctuations in formal fictional novels like Harry Potter.

    I write my current fic as Light Novel style, so for me personally, I do include many of those informal punctuations in my fic, but I don't think there is big problem. In fact, if I do it in the "formal" punctuation style, I feel the tension and the atmosphere will become toned down, it doesn't make me nervous when I read it. (I proofread my work for many times)
    Last edited by Crystal; 15th December 2012 at 11:59 AM.
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