This is it! Our final installment in how to punctuate dialogue like a boss
And we’re talking about questions and quotations in dialogue because why not fry our brains a little more. Are you ready? And as a reminder, our last two podcasts also talk about this, so you should check them out.
Let’s start with . . .
Questions and Exclamations in Dialogue and there is not dialogue tag or beat.
They are just standing out there all by their lonesome.
When this happens, you just put the question mark or the exclamation point inside the last end quotation marks.
“Carrie is obsessed with manatees?”
“Carrie is obsessed with manatees!”
So the formula for that is:
BEGINNING QUOTATION MARKS + QUESTION OR EXCLAMATION + QUESTION MARK OR EXCLAMATION POINT + END QUOTES
Questions and Exclamations With a Dialogue Tag
Now let’s add a dialogue tag for those questions and exclamations.
So here again, the exclamation point or question marks are right there inside the second set of quotation marks. DO NOT USE A COMMA, TOO! BANISH IT!
And do not capitalize the dialogue tag. LOWER CASE THAT BABY! It’s all the same sentence even with the exclamation point/question mark in there.
“Carrie is into manatees?” they asked, pretty much scowling because that was weird.
“Carrie is into manatees!” he said, gesticulating at the manatee. The manatee winked.
BEGINNING QUOTATION MARKS + QUESTION OR EXCLAMATION + QUESTION MARK OR EXCLAMATION POINT + END QUOTES + lowercase dialogue tag and the rest of the sentence + PERIOD.
Okay. Moving on to this dangerous territory.
Quote Inside Your Dialogue
Sometimes, you’ll have a character who is telling you a direct quote from someone else or a book or a song lyric within their dialogue, right? So, we have to tell the reader that this quote is a quote they are quoting (look at all those quote words) and not something they themselves are making up.
How do you do that?
You use the magical punctuation!
So, you put those double quotation marks around everything the speaker is saying AND THEN you put single quotation marks around what they are quoting.
“Carrie said, and I quote, ‘I am so into manatees.’ ”
“Carrie said, ‘I am so into manatees.’ Sometimes it’s hard to be married to her.”
WRITING TIP OF THE POD
Knowing how to punctuate helps make agents, editors, and readers love you.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
If you’re quoting someone else, you want to show it. If you don’t? You’re plagiarizing. That’s naughty.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!