In last week’s podcast we started to talk about how to punctuate dialogue because we’re sexy like that. And we’re continuing that discussion this week.
A great source of how to to punctuate dialogue is from theeditorsblog.net
They are calm and lovely and explain things really well.
And for a reminder: A dialogue tag is just the bits like “they said,” “she whispered,” “he yelled.”
Single line of dialogue with dialogue tag and action
So, for this, you’ve got quotation marks around your dialogue with the dialogue tag following what was said. But before that, right before the end quotation mark, you have a comma. There’s no capital letter for that dialogue tag. Why? Because it’s the same damn sentence, that’s why, and you can’t just randomly capitalize things in there. A period goes at the very end of the action or beat.
“Shaunie is a cutie face,” she said, hoping Shaunie would look her way and smile.
Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Comma + End Quotation Marks + Lowercase First Word in the Dialogue Tag + Comma (usually) + Action/Beat + Period.
You can switch that around and start off with the action/beat and the dialogue tag.
Hoping Shaunie would look her way and smile, she said, “Shaunie is a cutie face.”
Action/Beat + Comma + Dialogue Tag + Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Period + End Quote
So, then you have the interrupting dialogue stuff that writers love.
This is when the dialogue is all the same sentence, but it’s interrupted by the dialogue tag. When that happens, you want a comma before the last quotation marks in the first part of the sentence and then again after the dialogue tag.
“Shaunie is a cutie face,” she said, hoping Shaunie would look her way and smile, “but he doesn’t ever notice me.”
“Shaunie is a cutie face,” she said, “but he doesn’t ever notice me.”
Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Comma + End Quotation Marks + Lowercase First Word in the Dialogue Tag + Comma + Action/Beat + Comma + Quotation Marks + Lowercased first word + End Punctuation (not a comma) + End Quotation Marks.
Two sentences interrupted
Or you can get all emphatic and make it two sentences because it’s dialogue. Then the first sentence has a period before the end quotes and dialogue tag. The dialogue tag ends with a period. The second quote section starts with a capital letter. Whew. That’s a lot. Ready?
“Shaunie is a cutie face,” she said, hoping Shaunie would look her way and smile. “But he doesn’t ever notice me.”
Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + Comma + End Quote Marks + Lowercase First Word in the Dialogue Tag + Comma + Action/Beat + Period + Quotation Marks + Capitalized First Word + End Punctuation (not a comma) + End Quotation Marks.
Whew, that was a lot. Our brains are fried? Your brains okay?
Writing Tip of the Pod
Be sexy. Know your punctuation.
Dog Tip for Life
Don’t just bark at people. It’s easy, but it doesn’t get you what you want.
LINKS WE REFERENCE IN THE RANDOM THOUGHTS PART OF THE PODCAST
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.
WE HAVE EXTRA CONTENT ALL ABOUT LIVING HAPPY OVER HERE! It’s pretty awesome.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly 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 raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!