Category Archives: How To
For information on Boring Dialogue, see Part 1
Not only does Dialogue need to serve multiple purposes, it has specific punctuation rules.
All spoken dialogue has double quotes around it.
“She never told me,” he whispered.
Because we are using a dialogue tag (he said), a comma goes inside the quote and the tag is NOT capitalized.
“Why didn’t she tell me?” he asked.
We’re still using a dialogue tag, even though it’s a question. The tag remains lower case.
“She never told me.” He waved towards the balcony doors.
By using a movement tag, the exchange becomes two different sentences. The dialogue ends with a period inside the quotes, and the movement tag IS capitalized.
“But,” he said, “she never told me.”
Using a beat to break up the dialogue is punctuated by a comma inside the first set of quotes, the beat is NOT capitalized and also ends with a comma, and then the continuation of dialogue is NOT capitalized.
“But she never told me.” John spun from the others, staring blankly out the open balcony door. “How could she not have told me?”
By using a movement tag between sentences of dialogue, the same rules of any movement tag are followed. Each sentence is its own, and punctuated with periods and capitals.
A Quote within a Quote
“So, then Sally said, ‘Those Garrison’s are too tall.’ We all laughed at her surprise,” Billy said.
When quoting inside dialogue, single quotation marks are used.
The last part of punctuation is paragraphing. When a new person speaks, they always do so in a new paragraph.
“And then, the dam broke.” Jesse’s eyes grew wider. “The water, frothy white with trees and boulders tumbling down the ridge right along with it, seemed like it would never stop.”
“Whoa. What did the town do?” Sally asked.
“We ran. What else?” Joe said, his voice deep and booming.
“How far did you run?” Sally spread her hands wide as if she could measure the distance of the town’s flight between her fingers.
“Far,” Jesse stated. “As far as we could.”
I hate Caveats.
Most people have enough common sense to get it without being told. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t always get it, then bitch and moan after the fact for “Not understanding”.
So, here’s my Caveat for the Back to the Basics Series.
You DO NOT have to follow every single ‘rule’
I AM NOT telling you what you MUST do, I’m just trying to help with the Basics
If you disagree with something I say, feel free to let me know, as long as you tell me WHY you disagree. Make it a discussion, NOT a rant.
If you don’t like my blog, NO ONE says you MUST read it
Anything else I’m missing?
I keep hearing about ‘back to the basics’ with local schools. Two of my kids go to a charter school which has used this slogan since they opened. What exactly does it mean?
Well, my take is that rather than having kids sit and listen, memorizing rote facts they don’t understand, curriculum is changing to go back to the basics. If you want to do algebra, you need to know the basics: addition, subtraction, ect. Kids need to actually apply the knowledge by doing the work instead of being talked to.
I think as writers, sometimes it’s good to be in this frame of mind.
Now, I can share my knowledge about the basics of the craft of writing, but if all you do is listen, you won’t get as much out of it. Like any writing information, you’ll get more from it by trying it out and applying it to your own writing.
Some of what I’ll be talking about the next few weeks is probably going to be pretty basic. But that’s where, after a bit of thought, I decided to start with. Because if the basics are missing, the rest isn’t going to be much help.
Come join me.
The first thing I’m going to be talking about is dialogue.
See ya’ll Wednesday.