1. Screams of Silence
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    Screams of Silence Member

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    Punctuation in dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Screams of Silence, Feb 23, 2013.

    When you have a scene in which two characters are having a prolonged conversation, how is the best way to punctuate it? I'm having trouble in figuring out where the periods and stuff go, especially after quotation marks. For example, is this correct:

    "Lovely day," said Joe.
    "Indeed it is," said Lucy.
    "How are the kids?"
    "Just fine, how's Samantha?"
    "She's doing well,".
    "That's good. Well, I better be going now,".
    "Okay, take care,".

    Or, is this more or less correct without the periods after the last few sentences:

    "Lovely day," said Joe.
    "Indeed it is," said Lucy.
    "How are the kids?"
    "Just fine, how's Samantha?"
    "She's doing well,"
    "That's good. Well, I better be going now,"
    "Okay, take care,"


    I tend to avoid dialogue whenever possible because I really struggle with punctuation involving quotations. I mean, I understand the basic comma inside the quotation and the period outside, like: "I went down to the supermarket today,".

    Like I know that is correct. But in run-on dialogue like the above example, I'm very sketchy on correct punctuation. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The commas in the last three sentences are incorrect - you only need commas when they're followed by a dialogue tag. So the corrected conversation would be:

    "Lovely day," said Joe.
    "Indeed it is," said Lucy.
    "How are the kids?"
    "Just fine, how's Samantha?"
    "She's doing well."
    "That's good. Well, I better be going now."
    "Okay, take care."
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup, that!
     
  4. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Gah, must be a european thing, always using 'said Joe.' instead of 'Joe said.' Always makes my American brain go, 'Huh?'

    I'll just stay nuetral, like Switzerland. [​IMG]

    ~ J. J.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  6. Screams of Silence
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    Screams of Silence Member

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    Ahh, ok. That looks correct to my eyes. I knew I was doing something wrong, I just couldn't quite place what it was. Thanks! :)
     
  7. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    You could buy a style guide like I have (I use "The Creative Writer's Style Guide"), or just read Cogito's very helpful article.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    every serious writer should have a good punctuation guide handy... along with a good dictionary and s&w...

    here's a sticky where i've listed what i consider the best online resources for the technical aspects of the writer's art:

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=21049

    you can email me for my 'tools of the trade' list that contains their 'real book' counterparts...

    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As for 'said Joe,' and 'Joe said' - well, I've lived half my life in the USA and half my life in Scotland, so I'm easy! Seriously, just vary it according to what sounds good to your ear, within the context of what you're writing. It's nice to vary these placements anyway, to avoid monotony.

    I'm of the school that thinks a good writer - like a good driver - is someone whose activity you don't notice. Why? Because you're focused on the passing scenery or the story itself. If you start noticing writing style, the writer is probably overdoing something.
     
  10. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    Im a little confused by this.

    why the comma? shouldn't it be

    "Lovely day." said Joe.
    "Indeed it is." said Lucy.

    with a full stop as the person had said "lovely day" as a complete sentence?
     
  11. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Nope...it's always a comma.
    Check in any book.

    There's no comma unless there's not a tag:
    "There you are."
    If there is a tag:
    "There you are," she said.

    It wouldn't make sense for the 'said' to be lowercase if there was a full stop...

    Hope I explained that..alright.
    Other members can probably go more indepth :)
     
  12. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    I actually meant to put 'Said' rather than 'said' but your point still stands. Thanks for the correction. Something new every day.

    sorry for derailing the thread a little
     
  13. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    If you pretend that speech marks are obsolete, the actual sentence would read - There you are she said. would be correct. There you are. She said. is obviously wrong. It's the speech marks that confuses the issue. The sentence ends after the speech tag, not after the speech.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Even if you don't use quotation marks, you would still use a comma. So it would be

     
  15. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Yes, that's true, missed it out.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks. Hopefully that reference has the answer to my question.

    From your link:
    This is how I break up my heavy on the dialogue piece without continual he said, she said identifiers. I know a new speaker needs a new line and I start a new line if the described action or description doesn't apply to the speaker.

    But in another of these discussions someone mentioned that anything besides the speech and identifier goes on a new line. I hope I was just misunderstanding them.


    And as long as I'm asking here and haven't yet picked up my style manual from the library, I have another question. I like to post correctly as well, for practice and skill growth. If I have a clause adjective (don't know the actual name), which of these is correct?

    ..my heavy-on-the-dialogue piece..

    ..my 'heavy on the dialogue' piece..

    ..my heavy on the dialogue piece..

    Thanks.
     

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