1. feklhr
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    feklhr New Member

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    help for a new writer

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by feklhr, Jan 10, 2010.

    Ok, I have recently taken up writing stories as a hobby. I have been reading lots of writing help guides etc and have been trying to learn as much as I can. One thing I am having trouble understanding though is how to end my sentences with punctuation when one of my characters is speaking. This might sound very stupid, but I will give an example of what I mean.

    "You have to turn right." Said Samantha.

    is the correct typing to have no period after the word right, like this?

    "You have to turn right" said Samantha.

    Are there exceptions for when my characters ask each other questions?

    I am reading and learning as much as I can but I seem to have trouble with this. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Denied Fixation
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    Denied Fixation Member

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    I am truly the last person that should be answering this question as I inevitably butcher punctuation... BUT... I believe it should be:

    "You have to turn right," said Samantha.

    A comma after the last spoken word, before the quotation marks, with the s in said being lower case and a period after Samantha.

    If you can find it... in college I had to get a copy of Pearsons The Penguin Handbook. That book has everything from grammar to citing sources. It's sort of expensive.. but if you can find a used copy.. even an OLD copy (2008).. it would be worth getting. There may even be an online version you can go through. I promise... it will help!
     
  3. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    I'd just like to say that I'm fairly sure this is an American convention, just like in US English you put ending punctuation inside the quotes. In UK English you would end the quotation in a period inside the quote marks (because it was the end of the sentence the character spoke) and continue on as normal with the sentence. In fact I'd never even seen this kind of syntax before I started reading this forum. I don't think I've ever seen it in any fiction I've ever read.
     
  4. Denied Fixation
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    Denied Fixation Member

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    Hmm... I never thought of that. My hubby is from Belgium... born and raised... I'll have to ask him if it looks weird to him as well. Americans... I tell ya... we can be such a difficult group. :) But I did look it up... and that's indeed the correct punctuation. It just further proves though... that I do not need to review anyone's work for grammar and punctuation... I have a hard enough time with American English... much less European...
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ddenied Fixation is correct. I would recommend Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and The Little, Brown Handbook as reference guides, though.

    This may help: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue
     
  6. feklhr
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    feklhr New Member

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    hey, thnx a ton. if i am understanding you correctly you mean the punctuation goes inside quotations, correct? that was what i thought. thnx. and thnx all else who replied.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bandit...

    even in uk rules, using a period before a dialog tag ['said Samantha'] would be totally wrong... the only difference is that in the uk, the period and comma used to always go outside " "... but more and more, us rules are being followed on that there, with them going inside...

    but in any case, 'said Samantha' could not possibly be correct as a separate sentence, after the dialog... the only time an ending mark would be proper before a dialog tag, is if the dialog is an exclamation, or a question, in which case ! or ? would end it and the tag would follow...
     
  8. feklhr
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    feklhr New Member

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    Clearly I have got some more learning to do myself lol.
     
  9. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    In UK rules, calling it a period would be totally wrong ;)

    Nope, there's a comma there. You can have 'Samantha did (whatever she did)' with a full stop, but not if you say 'said Samantha,' as that's the same subject, and you don't pause there if you say the sentence out loud.
     
  10. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    Let me start with a few things just to make sure I'm communicating myself properly:
    -In UK English any punctuation, whether they be full stops, commas, semi-colons, question marks or whatever, are only put inside the quotation marks if they are actually part of the quoted speech. For example if someone was finished speaking you would add a full stop to the end of the speech inside the quotes.
    -Any punctuation that is not part of the quoted speech are placed outside the quotation marks.

    But even if these two things are taken into consideration, "You have to turn right," said Samantha. is still correct? This is just confusing me because I've never seen it before. But I'll look through some books I have to see if this is the case.
     
  11. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I'm pretty sure the exception to that is if you have a beat following the said part.

    "You have to turn right." Samantha said, as she pointed toward the street we just passed.

    I might be wrong in that, as I too, even as a more seasoned writer, get confused with the dialog stuff and am constantly in the habit of ending my sentences with a period rather than a comma...and I always end up going back through the editing process and fixing it. :) Don't worry you're not alone.

    Also as a reader and a writer, I can't stand when I see the said come before the noun. Something pounded into my head from my college professor as well, but it just doesn't flow as well as putting the noun before the said.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Afraid not.
    It;s still a dialogue tag, so the comma conversion still applies.
    Now it isn't a tag. It's is a beat in a separate sentence. This time, we only infer Samantha is the speaker, but bvecause it is in the same paragraph, we are pretty safe in saying that Samanthe is the speaker.
     
  13. feklhr
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    feklhr New Member

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    Ok, I am trying my best to understand all this. So the correct sentence would be:

    "You have to turn right," Samantha said.

    Correct? I have looked up lots of information on this and have came across mostly confusing answers.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is correct.
     
  15. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    So I checked through a bunch of books. It's totally right. I must have just never noticed it before. I still don't like how it looks but I can't argue with correct grammar.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But now you're paying attention to it. Before long, it won't look right to you any other way.
     

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