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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Punctuation in dialogue for dummies

In case you have missed it, here it is again:


Tip of the week:

Punctuation in dialogue

Many new writers have problems using correct dialogue attributes. When to use a comma, upper or lower case after the question mark/exclamation point, full stop instead of the comma and where to put the quotes.
I will try to shed some light on this delicate topic and give you some simple examples:
“I suggest to use a comma in this case,” she said.
“I suggest to use a comma in this case,” she said, turning to look at the writer.
“I suggest you use a comma in this case.” Her suggestion sounded more like a command.
“Do you think I need to use a comma?” he asked.
“Do you think I need to use a comma?” His question was unexpected.
He turned round and asked, ” Do you think I need to use a comma?”
He turned round. “Do you think I need to use a comma?”
“Nicole,” he asked, “do you think I need to use a comma?” But also:
“Nicole,” he asked. “Do you think I need to use a comma?” Both are correct.
“Okay, I will use a comma.” He sighed.
“Stop using the comma,” she shouted.
“Stop using the comma!” (If we know who speaks we omit ‘she shouted’ and let the exclamation point show us that the sentence is not spoken in a calm manner.)
These are guidelines for ‘dummies’, the basics if you will. If you use them correctly, you won’t get rejected because of wrong punctuation in dialogue for they can be distracting.
I also recommend to take a published book  and compare your own dialogue with the ones in it. It’s a little harder and takes more time, but in the end you will find patterns and will adapt to it.

Good luck.
Nicole



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