1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Comma Use with Dialog Snippets

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Sep 9, 2011.

    I have a question about the use of these dialog snippets or quoted parts and if I should separate them with commas:

    To call his former friend “sergeant” felt weird.
    He veered left and clomped toward the area marked “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted.”
    He could almost read “I'm bored” in his friend’s glazed eyes.
    He echoed the melody his older brother called “banal, sugarless ear candy.”
    He found a door marked “Broom Closet.”
    She mouthed the word “wow.”
    The warrior screamed at him to “shut up and take it like a man.”
    He pointed at the man who stopped moving, stopped threatening, stopped repeating “ow.”
    Wait, did he say “dead”?
    The message “Shutting down” stretched across the monitor.
    Last year their motto had been “Win Big.”
    Or maybe the “ah, ah, ah, ah” he repeated.

    Should I put a comma before the quoted part? Some of these are more with the flow of the sentence, so it seems strange to separate it with a comma, but maybe I should. For instance:

    He could almost read, “I'm bored,” in his friend’s glazed eyes.

    Does this need commas if it's part of the flow of the sentence?
     
  2. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Yes, it does depend on the flow of the sentence.
    To call his former friend (pause) sergeant (pause) felt weird.
    That feels clunky, I'd say you're fine without commas for most of these.

    Also, I do not recall seeing quotes used in this way. I'd say you could do without those as well.
     
  3. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Nope, your examples are correct. I would not insert a comma as the quoted texts/snippets are directly part of the sentence.

    Though technically you could use a colon to separate some of your snippet examples.

    He found a door marked: Broom Closet.
    Last year their motto had been: Win Big

    And this way, you don't even need quotation marks, but it just depends on your style, flow, and how you want to present your snippets. The way you have them are fine.
     
  4. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I would remove the quotations from this line personally. I don't think they are needed. I mean, you wouldn't say, To call his former friend "Abigail" felt weird.

    I would use a colon here and remove the quotations.

    I would replace "'I'm bored'" with "the boredom" here. Commas shouldn't be needed if you keep it the way it is though.

    No comma needed.

    I would use a colon here and remove the quotations.

    I would use a comma here, as "she mouthed" works very much like a dialogue tag (i.e., "Wow," she mouthed the word.). However, the Chicago Manual of Style has an entry about "Single-word speech" that suggests the quotation marks around "wow" may not be needed at all. However, I'm not positive about that as it doesn't list it specifically.

    Quotation marks aren't needed in indirect discourse. If it is direct discourse then it should be phrased so: "Shut up and take it like a man," the warrior screamed.

    Not sure what to make of this sentence. Maybe try... stopped moving, threatening, and complaining ... "Ow" seems a little awkward to me.

    Looks fine.

    I would remove the quotations and use an em-dash here (i.e., The message--shutting down--stretched across the monitor.).

    Seems fine.

    This one is a bit confusing. :) I believe it's technically correct, though I would remove the commas between the ah's (i.e., ...maybe the "ah ah ah ah" he repeated.)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's just a styling decision... how you've done them all is ok... adding commas would be ok in some of them, as well...
     
  6. katek
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    katek Member

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    I would say your examples are correct.

    As an additional thought, if the dialogue is a snippet, I would put the full stop outside the speech marks - only if it is undoubtedly a snippet though e.g. 'wow' and 'ow' example sentences... probably not the 'ear candy' one though.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the us, the comma and period always go inside quotation [speech] marks... in the uk, they often go inside...
     

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