Dialogue

punctuationPunctuation of dialogue is often confusing. Some writers do it one way, others, another way. Some use no punctuation at all.

I think the old rules we learned help the reader understand. First, I’m going to write a short paragraph or two and ask you how you would punctuate them. Then I’ll go line by line and see if you agree.

 Punctuate like this, Ed Griffin said, or you’ll never be a good writer.

The woman in the first seat glared at him. At the beginning you told us there were not rules. Now – rules of punctuation. I hate punctuation.

That’s the old Yin-Yang for you, Griffin said. Rules and no rules.

The next subject in this book is…

What a phoney, the woman thought.

 Each speaker gets a separate paragraph.

 “Punctuate like this,” Ed Griffin said, “or you’ll never be a good writer.”

*   *Note that the commas and periods belong inside the quotation marks. The or is not capitalized because it’s part of the sentence.

 The woman in the first seat glared at him. “At the beginning you told us there were no rules. Now – rules of punctuation. I hate punctuation.”

*   *Note that there is a new speaker, so a new paragraph.

 “That’s the old Yin-Yang for you,” Griffin said. “Rules and no rules.

*   *Note that new speaker, new paragraph. Also Griffin is still talking, so there is no quotation mark after rules. Griffin changes the subject. If there were quotation marks after rules, the reader might think Griffin was finished speaking.

*   *Also note that for an unusual word or something the author wants to emphasize, I use italics.

“The next subject in this book is…”

*   *Griffin has changed the subject and we all remember the rule, new idea, new paragraph.

 What a phoney, the woman thought.

*   *Note that direct thoughts are italicized (or underlined). If the statement is an indirect thought, it is not italicized. Thus, The woman thought Griffin was a phoney, would not be italicized.

Do you agree with these rules? How do you punctuate dialogue? dialogue

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4 responses to “Dialogue

  1. I loved this little blog. I am not great on punctuation and the one about no ” after rules was a new one on me. Hey should I have put () around ” ? I noticed Ed, no !!!!!! Delora

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