To view this notification widget you need to have JavaScript enabled. This notification widget was easily created with NotifySnack.
Home Tour About Read What's New Help Forums Join Login
My Account
Shop
Save
Support
E
Book
Store
Learn
About
Jesus
  




The HOME for Christian writers!
The Home for Christian Writers!

Forums

This area is only a small portion of FaithWriters. The main site can be joined HERE.
Shop & Save to SUPPORT FaithWriters.
Upgrade to SUPPORT FaithWriters.

Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6099
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby glorybee » Sat May 10, 2014 10:04 am

I don’t usually post on writing mechanics, but this easily correctable error has shown up in my life so many times in the past week that I thought a quick lesson was in order.

First, why don’t you test yourself? Read the following sentence, and see if you can pick out error. Then scroll down a bit, and see if you got it right:

“I’d like a double order of tiramisu.” Jan said.

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
The error is very common, and very easy to miss—even when I’m doing professional editing, I often overlook it on first reading. It should be written thus:

“I’d like a double order of tiramisu,” Jan said.

Do you see the difference? It’s that little comma after tiramisu, which is a period in the incorrect sentence.

I think many writers make this mistake because they’re so used to putting a period at the end of a sentence, and I’d like a double order of tiramisu is a complete sentence. Except that it’s not, in this case: Jan said completes the sentence (in fact, Jan is the subject of the sentence and said is the verb). Since we can’t have two periods in one sentence, the comma is used to separate the clauses.

Now, here’s a slight variation of the sentence:

“I’d like a double order of tiramisu.” She said.

Do you see the problem there?

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

I see this error quite frequently, too. The correct way of writing this:

“I’d like a double order of tiramisu,” she said.

In this case, the common error is in capitalizing the pronoun she. Again, writers have the habit of beginning a sentence with a capital letter, and since she follows a period, it must be the beginning of a new sentence, right? But since the period is wrong, so is the capital letter.

This combination of comma-inside-end-quotes followed by either a proper name or an uncapitalized pronoun also works for verbs other than said.

“Don’t start eating without me,” Jan requested.

OR

“Don’t start eating without me,” she insisted.

Oh, and if the punctuation mark inside the end quotes is a question mark or an exclamation point, it’s considered like a comma for purposes of capitalization:

“Don’t start eating without me!” she shouted.

“What did I tell you about eating my dessert?” she demanded.

Finally—if the action of the speaker following the sentence in quotation marks uses a verb other than said or a substitute for said (shouted, whispered, mumbled, retorted, etc.), then that action needs to be in its own sentence, with its own capital letter.

“I can’t believe how delicious this tiramisu is.” Jan smacked her lips.

“I can’t believe how delicious this tiramisu is.” She reached for a second helping.


HOMEWORK:

1. Write several sentences of your own that contain dialogue tags and are correctly punctuated and capitalized.

2. Ask a question or make a comment.


Now--two requests from me:

1. Please tell other FaithWriters about these lessons.

2. Don't forget to use the Critique Circle for more detailed critique than you'd typically get in the Writing Challenge. You can enter previous Writing Challenge pieces there, too.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
itsjoanne
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 10149
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:52 am
Location: West Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby itsjoanne » Sat May 10, 2014 1:41 pm

I see it all the time too, Jan. I actually wasn't certain about the exclamation point/question mark issue you brought up regarding capitalization. Thanks for that :) And BECAUSE of that, I'll do my sample sentences with ! or ?, just to firm it up in my mind.

"Did Sam really eat all the quiche?" she asked.

"I can't believe it took me eight years to be eligible for Best of the Best!" screamed Joanne.

"The guinea pig is in the drain!" She covered her mouth and started bailing out the water.

Great lesson, Jan. Thanks!

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6099
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby glorybee » Sat May 10, 2014 1:47 pm

Those are perfect, Jo.

Poor, poor, guinea pig.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
tomoral
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
 
Posts: 1428
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:08 pm

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby tomoral » Sat May 10, 2014 2:57 pm

Wow, I really appreciate this one. I am always getting this wrong.

This is a really good lesson! she said.

This is a terrific topic, she said.

Isn't this a great writing lesson? she asked. :roll:

How'd I do?
God Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from the storms.
Children are our tomorrow
Keep them daily from the sorrow
Of the beasts in life

http://www.faithwriters.com/websites/my ... p?id=57394

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6099
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby glorybee » Sat May 10, 2014 3:08 pm

tomoral wrote:Wow, I really appreciate this one. I am always getting this wrong.

This is a really good lesson! she said.

This is a terrific topic, she said.

Isn't this a great writing lesson? she asked. :roll:

How'd I do?


Well...you left off a really important part of punctuating dialogue--the quotation marks. :oops:
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
tomoral
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
 
Posts: 1428
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:08 pm

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby tomoral » Sat May 10, 2014 5:14 pm

:oops: Oh, my. I did, didn't I? Well, maybe I got the sentences right? :oops:

Honestly, I don't forget the quotation marks when I'm writing! :lol:
God Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from the storms.
Children are our tomorrow
Keep them daily from the sorrow
Of the beasts in life

http://www.faithwriters.com/websites/my ... p?id=57394

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6099
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby glorybee » Sat May 10, 2014 5:30 pm

tomoral wrote::oops: Oh, my. I did, didn't I? Well, maybe I got the sentences right? :oops:

Honestly, I don't forget the quotation marks when I'm writing! :lol:


The sentences were just dandy!
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6099
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby glorybee » Sat May 10, 2014 7:21 pm

Just giving this lesson a bit of a bump.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
RachelM
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
 
Posts: 575
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:52 pm

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby RachelM » Sun May 18, 2014 1:56 am

This is such an important lesson! I started writing a blog a few years ago, and that's when I realized that I really didn't know how to punctuate dialogue. I spent some time researching it, and I feel like I understand the rules now. A good reminder is always beneficial, though!

Before I get to my homework, I have a question about my last sentence. Are we supposed to put a comma before the word "though" at the end of a sentence? And if it is in the middle of a sentence, should I put commas on both sides?

Now for my homework:

"I'm a birth junkie," Roan said.

"Who in their right mind would actually enjoy giving birth?" Carol shook her head as she poured water into the coffee maker. "Just knock me out and wake me up when it's all over."

Roan placed her hands over her bulging abdomen and sighed. "It's like riding a wave. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to be pulled under, but then that precious baby is placed in my arms, and I feel like I could do anything," she said.

"But you have to stop having babies sometime!" chided Carol.
My FaithWriters profile: RachelM FW member profile

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6099
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE

Postby glorybee » Sun May 18, 2014 1:00 pm

RachelM wrote:Before I get to my homework, I have a question about my last sentence. Are we supposed to put a comma before the word "though" at the end of a sentence? And if it is in the middle of a sentence, should I put commas on both sides?



Yes, to both of your questions.

And your examples were perfectly written.
Jan Ackerson


Return to Jan's Writing Basics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


© MeasurelessMedia. All rights reservedTerms of Service



Jesus - True for You But not for Me      Website Builder     Build Website     Is Jesus God?    
Does God exist?     Build a writers website     Does truth exist?     Website online in minutes