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How do you guys split your dialogue? I'm always getting confused at where to split my conversation or where to use a comma or full stop when the character pauses.
#1 - March 11, 2016, 11:08 AM

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Can you give us an example, Fiona? Maybe something that's bothering you in your own story.  :star2
#2 - March 11, 2016, 12:03 PM

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Fiona, I used to have an article up on dialogue but can't find it ... but here's an excerpt from that article:

Spoken words and punctuation marks, like commas, periods, question marks, dashes and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks. Do not capitalize the beginnings of tags unless you start a new sentence. Here is a scene containing several examples of correctly punctuated dialogue.

“That can’t be right.”  I think aloud in my math class.

“What?” asks Mr. Hatch, turning around.

“You can’t divide by a minus b,” I say slowly, “because earlier you had set them equal to each other and division by zero ...”

“ illegal.”  Mr. Hatch completes my sentence. I hate that.

I hope this is helpful. You might want to post an excerpt of your own work.
#3 - March 11, 2016, 12:47 PM
TONGUE-TIED (Heinemann, 2019) BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018) TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015) & 100+ bks/mags

Thanks, Vijaya. That's exactly the type of sample I need. I might pop back here later:I'm about to make truffles!
#4 - March 12, 2016, 05:10 AM


"Hello," Turtle said.

"Hello?" Lizard said. "I thought this was goodbye."

Turtle scratched his head. "Didn't I just arrive?"

Lizard slithered up to Turtle. "Well, this is most definitely your goodbye side."

"Oh, my!" Turtle said, and he popped his head out again. "Better?"

Lizard said, "Better."
#5 - March 12, 2016, 05:23 AM

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If you're putting the dialogue tag in the middle of a sentence, you can usually use commas:

"I'm not really sure," she said, "but I think this is right."

If you have a complete sentence, then you'd use a period before starting the next sentence of dialogue:

"I don't think this is right," she said. "What do you think?"

As for mixing it in with other narration, to keep it as clear as possible, keep the dialogue with the speaker's actions. If you have someone else interacting, it can sometimes be confusing to put their actions after another speaker's words. Here's an example:

"I hate when you do that," Don said. Shirley giggled.

"I know."

I prefer this:

"I hate when you do that," Don said.

Shirley giggled. "I know."

I don't know if there's a hard or fast rule with that, but when I've read dialogue interspersed with action and the speakers are different from the actors (so to speak), it can get confusing pretty quickly (for me), and it tends to pull me out of the story.
#6 - March 12, 2016, 11:17 AM
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales:

Thanks. I've not been able to write much lately but just started a new project. I'll come back later in the week.
#7 - March 13, 2016, 08:54 AM


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