How do I format a list that’s being read out loud by a character in a fiction book?

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Lists and Dialogue

Most writers, when starting out, overthink this issue.

You treat a list just like you would any other part of the dialogue, just have the character say it.

Example:

John glanced over the list, saying each item as if some alien scribbled out the words. “Lattice, carrots, onions, beets,”-he scratched his head-“potatoes, mushrooms, garlic…” The list continued on, naming every vegetables he ever heard of and some unfamiliar to him. “What the hell is asparagus?” At the end of the items lay the one thing he knew how to buy. “Steaks!” He fist pumped the air, allowing his carnivore senses to relish in the realization he would be able to eat meat.

So some of the things you see are the interjection of action, trailing off the list and condensing it, then running to the end. In this way you really don’t have to give the full list, just enough for the reader to understand what is happening.

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