Punctuation in dialog
One issue writers often have with dialog is how to punctuated it. Here are examples of proper punctuation.
If a bit of dialog ends with a tag (he said, ect.) then the dialog itself should end with a comma (where there would normally be a period) and the tag should begin with a lowercase letter.
Example: “I’m going to the zoo,” said Tommy.
If the dialog forms a question it’s end with a question mark, but the tag begins with a lowercase letter:
Example: “Are we going to the zoo?” asked Tommy.
If it’s an exclamation, use an exclamation point and begin the tag with a lowercase letter:
Example: “We’re going to the zoo!” said Tommy.
The exception to using a lower case letter for the tag is when you start the tag with the character’s name, which must be capitalized:
Example: “I’m going to the zoo,” Tommy said.
If a bit of dialog is not followed with a “said/asked” tag, but rather with an action tag, then the dialog should end with a period, question mark, or exclamation point, and the action should begin with a capital letter.
Example: “I’m going to the zoo.” The boy snatched up his coat.
When the dialog is broken by action, end the action with a period if it’s a full sentence. Begin the second sentence of dialog with a capital letter.
Example: “I’m going to the zoo,” said Tommy, snatching up his coat. “Do you want to come along?”
When the dialog is broken by action, end the action with a comma if the dialog and action together form a fragment. Begin the second part of the dialog with a lowercase letter.
Example: “Today,” said Tommy, “I am going to the zoo.”
When in doubt, pick up your favorite novel and take a look how the professionals did it. By studying various examples you will soon be able to see the patterns.
- Lisa Nowak
Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:
TRACKED through May 23rd
BETWEEN THE NOTES through May 23rd
Lauren MacLeod Query Critique and 5 TO 1 Giveaway through May 30th
IMOGENE AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING PEARLS through June 13th
Tip Tuesday #85
Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where blog readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send one in, please do! E-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Today I have another fantastic tip from Lisa Nowak. Please visit her blog, The Tao of Webfoot, where she's been doing the A-Z Blogging Challenge through her characters. It's super fun!
Posted by Casey McCormick on Tuesday, April 19, 2011