1. sashas
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    sashas Senior Member

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    A Question About Formatting.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by sashas, May 24, 2007.

    What kinda formatting should I use after a dialogue?

    For instance, in a sentence like the following, which would be the correct formatting?

    "This is a sentence," He said. "And this is a question?"
    OR
    "This is a sentence," he said, "and this is a question?"
    OR
    "This is a sentence." He said. "And this is a question?"
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    "This is a sentence," He said. "And this is a question?"

    ...wrong...

    "This is a sentence," he said, "and this is a question?"

    ....wrong...

    "This is a sentence." He said. "And this is a question?"

    ...wrong...

    ...right way would be:

    ...if you're asking how to punctuate a question in dialog, here's how:

    ...for a split line of dialog, it would be like this:

     
  3. sashas
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    sashas Senior Member

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    Thanks a lot mammamaia!

    You're a real great help. I've been confused about the formatting for quite some time, and this totally cleared it out.

    Thanks!
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    de nada... happy to help!

    hugs, m
     
  5. DirtRoadWriter
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    DirtRoadWriter Member

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    But maybe sometime you have a "rough and tough" character, like I write mostly about cowboys, and they rarely speak grammatically correct. (Trust me, I live around them every day of my life.) So to help make the dialogue distincitive to the characters, it helps to write the way they talk, correct? So which one of Sasha's examples would you use for such a situation?
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    DirtRoadWriter,

    In general, you can say anything you want in dialogue. It does not have follow any grammar rules or even make much sense, if that's the case.

    The standard part comes in the formatting (punctuation, capitalization--sentence starts for example, and placement of quotation marks, mainly). Of course, there are rules that on occasion are intentionally broken by authors.

    Here is a link to an article of mine that Fiction Factor published a little while back. It may help to answer some additional formatting questions.

    Article: Dialogue Basics

    Terry
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    none of them!... character-authentic dialog or not, none of them are written properly to make any sense, due to mistakes in punctuation and capitalization...
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe I should have been more clear...A character can say anything if/when it's placed between the quotation marks. It's the formatting that counts outside the marks to guide the reader--punctuation, etc.

    Terry
     
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  9. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Eh, i think that makes sense. So it's okay to break grammar/punctuation rules as long as they're within quotes?
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Correct, up to a point. If it gets too far, the reader can get lost.

    Really, people do not speak in proper sentences. Writing dialouge is often a balance between what true dialogue sounds like and grammar/punctuation/complete sentences, etc.

    Someone saying: "I tells ya, Sam. I just don't not know any answer to yer queshen!" is okay in dialouge.

    Of course, some things would be better kept grammatically correct to avoid confusing the reader. For example, using the correct there, their and they're or its and it's even in dialogue is important so the you don't throw one loop too many to the reader for the reader to sort out, unless you (the author) have very good reason to do so.

    Terry
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If someone is talking, their, they're and there sound alike, so it is pointless to spell them incorrectly in dialog. If you are relating the contents of a written note, of course, you are in different territory.

    Likewise, punctuation in dialog should generally be correct, except if you are using it to indicate pauses or unusual inflection. But sometimes you may be better off describing the odd emphasis instead of trying to phoneticize it.
     

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