#AmWriting Back to the Basics – Dialogue 2
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.”