Monday, July 31, 2017

Phone call: In quotes because a phone conversation is just dialogue presented wirelessly

You put both sides of the conversation in quotes because a telephone conversation (unless neither character is a viewpoint character) is just dialogue conducted by wireless.

Example:  (David is the viewpoint character.)

Seconds after he pushed the buttons to air ABC news at midnight, the phone buzzed.  He picked it up and said, "WEGR, WNUZ This is David."

"David?  This is Sara.  Sara Boyle."   

"Sara.  Good lord, I can't believe it."  That was putting it mildly.  In the years since their summer romance, he had seen her twice and heard her voice maybe a half-dozen times on the phone.  "You calling from Kansas City?"

"No, David.  I'm here in Sarasota," she said.  For some weird reason, he sucked in his gut, as if she could see him through the phone.

The only reason you would have for NOT putting in quotes the other person's dialogue would be if the person on this end of the phone is NOT the viewpoint character, as in this example:

 (David is still the viewpoint character but he is now with Sara when she gets a call.)

Like a cliche from a badly-scripted movie, the phone halted their conversation in its tracks and Sara returned to the living room to answer it. Two great fangs of lightning bit through the sky above the gray Gulf of Mexico and it began to rain.

"I don't know if that's a good idea or not," Sara said into the phone. "Well, no, Mr. Phillips, I am not depending on the police alone. They are perfectly competent, I'm sure but..." She turned and looked at David.  "I am trying to hire someone else to look for her.  That's right."

A sudden breeze began spitting the rain onto the balcony.  He came back in the room, closed the sliding glass doors, and sat on the couch.

"Very well.  Call me tomorrow."

She hung up and came back to sit on the couch.  She took David's hands in both of hers and the softness of her touch nearly overwhelmed him.  She said, "Please, I need you to find Cindy before it's too late.  I am willing to pay you, of course.  Would five hundred a day seem fair?"

Because David was the viewpoint character and we were in HIS head we could not "hear" what was being said on the other end of the phone in Sara's hand.
See?

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