Monthly Archives: December 2016

Revisions: Writing Dialogue Part 2

 

interruption-cartoon

In our last lesson regarding writing dialogue, we discussed simple rules that we can follow to assist us in writing dialogue. Just as writing can be more complicated, so can dialogue. In this next lesson, we’ll up the ante a bit and discuss some of those complications that not only bring our characters to life but might also have you pulling your hair out trying to create such dialogue.

It’s not as difficult as you might think. Let’s begin…

Every so often, your character may pause briefly, interrupting dialogue with a breath or hesitation. There are two ways you can deal with an interruption using dialogue tags and either one is correct. Everyone has their own style according to their voice.

The first is dialogue interrupted by a dialogue tag and continuing the dialogue following the tag but it all stays in the same sentence.
When using this method, a comma will end the first part of the dialogue remaining inside the quotation marks, and a second comma will follow the tag but remain on the outside of the quotation marks.

Example:  “If I could have a moment of your time,” he said, “it’s very important.”

“If I could have a moment of your time,” he said, grabbing Annabelle’s hand, “it’s very important.”

If this is something that doesn’t feel comfortable for you, you might also separate them into two complete sentences. The first sentence will end with a period following the tag, and the second will begin with a capital letter.

Example: “If I could have a moment of your time,” he said, grabbing Annabelle’s hand. “It’s very important.”

Questions in dialogue with no dialogue tags are done the same way as one with a period. The question mark stays within the quotation marks. The same construction applies to using exclamation points.

Example: “Will you marry me?”

“Marry me!”

When using a dialogue tag for a question, the question mark replaces the comma before the closing quotation marks and before the dialogue tag and the same capitalization rules apply.

Example: “Will you marry me?” he asked her.

If you put the tag first, the construction is the same as with a period.

Example: Damien took hold of her hand, and asked, “Will you marry me?”

Now…sometimes dialogue becomes a bit more complicated when your characters are interacting and action interrupts the spoken words. Or even in some cases, a character’s thoughts might interrupt their speaking. If we do it, our characters do it.

Let’s say your character is speaking and another character interrupts him.

Example:  “If I could have a moment of your time,” he said, grabbing Annabelle’s hand, “it’s very—”

“I love you,” she interrupted before she lost her nerve.

The Em dash demonstrates his words as being interrupted by hers. Sometimes, a character may interrupt his own words; the use of Em dashes will play into this construction as well but will be outside the quotation marks to show the action interrupting the speech.

Example:

“If I could have a moment of your time,”—grabbing Annabelle’s hand and pulling her close—“there’s something I need to ask you.”

This construction is very similar when a character interjects a thought within an action.

Example:

Annabelle walked past Damien—telling herself not to look at him—needing to get to the door before her tears fell.

Not sure how to make Em dashes – there are three easy ways to make them, you can choose which works best for you or simply hit dash twice, enter, then backspace but always make sure the Em dash follows the last letter of the word it connects to with no spaces. If you’re using Word, you can try one of these methods:

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+Minus (on the numeric keypad)
  2. Hold down the Alt key as you type 0151 on the numeric keypad.
  3. Choose Symbol from the Insert menu, and then select Em Dash from the Special Characters tab.
  4. Simply hitting the hyphen key twice directly after the word preceding the Em Dash then hit Enter then backspace and close the gap.

Sometimes, a character is speaking and will quote someone else’s words, this is easy to deal with and shouldn’t frighten you away from using it.

The entirety of the dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks following the same rules above only you’re going to add some single quotation marks (‘…’) with the dialogue.

When single and double quotation marks are used side by side, put a space between them simply to make them more easily read by the reader.

Example:  “He said, and I quote, ‘To be is not to be.’ ”

“He said, ‘To be is not to be.’ I heard it with my own ears.”

Indirect dialogue for the inner quote also works if you’d rather not use a quote within dialogue.

Example: “He said the line as to be is not to be. I heard it with my own ears.”

Direct and indirect dialogue emphasizes different elements of the sentence, so choose the one, which works best for what you want to convey. It’s your voice and either way works fine.

Next time, we’ll ramp it up a bit more with interruptions cutting off words and just how to make that effective. I hope this helps and if you ever have any questions or wish me to address another issue, please feel free to leave me a question, comment, or request I the comments below.

Happy Writing Everyone! Let’s get you success in the New Year!

Advertisements

Revisions: Writing Dialogue

dialogue

Hi writers, I know it’s been a while since my last editing/revision lesson but family matters have kept me busy as well as clients so let’s get things rolling again. One of the things that I notice quite often in editing is incorrect punctuation when it comes to dialogue. I understand it can be confusing at times but with practice, anyone can become so comfortable with the rules that it will come without thinking. Trust me.

Dialogue has its own set of rules for punctuation.

Commas always go in particular places, as do terminal marks such as periods, question marks, and exclamation points.

A simple rule to remember is that only what is said aloud is put within the quotation marks, and always within quotation marks—those are the double marks by the way. (“…”)

Any other parts of the same sentence such as dialogue tags (said, remarked, commanded, etc.) and any action or thought go outside the quotation marks.

Dialogue always begins with a capitalized word, no matter where in the sentence it begins. Only if the dialogue is interrupted and a tag continues it followed by a comma and not a period is not capped.

Example: “If I could have a moment of your time,” he said, grabbing her hand, “it’s important.”

Only direct dialogue, words spoken to someone or aloud requires quotation marks. Indirect dialogue is a report that someone spoke and what they said. The word that is implied in indirect dialogue.

Direct: “She was spoiled rotten,” he said.

Indirect: He said [that] she was spoiled rotten.

Now…as for punctuation in regards to dialogue, there are a few rules but the most basic ones are:

When using a single line of dialogue with no dialogue tag, the entire sentence, including the period or question mark or exclamation point is placed within the quotation marks.

Example: “I love you.”

“Will you marry me?”

“I’m so excited!”

When using a single line with dialogue tag (attribution) following the dialogue, the dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks with a comma following the dialogue and the comma is always placed before the closing quotation mark. A period ends the sentence after the dialogue tag. Punctuation in the form of the comma serves to separate the spoken words from other parts of the sentence. Since the sentence is not finished after the dialogue, the dialogue tag—he said, she demanded—is still part of the same sentence, and so it is not capitalized unless a proper name or title is being used.

Example:  “I love you,” she said.

“I love you,” Annabelle said.

The same construction occurs with a question mark even though there is no comma but instead a question mark, the dialogue tag continues the sentence and so there is no capitalization of the first word following the quotation marks unless it is a proper name.

Example:  “Will you marry me?” he asked.

“Will you marry me?” Damien asked.

When it comes to the use of exclamation points…if at all possible use a dialogue tag that expresses the raised voice or excitement in the voice of the speaker rather than an exclamation point or do not add a dialogue tag and use the exclamation point as too many exclamation points can slow the flow and distract the reader.

Example:  “I’m so excited,” she exclaimed throwing her arms around his neck.

“I’m so excited!” She threw her arms around his neck.

Sometimes, the dialogue needs more definition and so you might wish to put the tag first before the line of dialogue. When using this method, the comma still separates the dialogue tag from the spoken words but now it is outside the quotation marks and the dialogue-ending period is inside the quotation marks.

Example:  She said, “I love you.”

Annabelle said, “I love you.”

When using a single line of dialogue with dialogue tag as well as action, the dialogue is always enclosed in quotation marks no matter how much action is added to the sentence. A comma still follows the dialogue and is enclosed within the quotation marks. The dialogue tag follows immediately with no capitalization unless using a proper name then the action follows and a period ends the sentence.

Example:  “I love you,” she said, hoping he loved her too.

“I love you,” Annabelle said, hoping he loved her too.

Just as with a single line of dialogue with a simple tag, the action and dialogue tag can also introduce the dialogue, only now you’ll follow the action with the tag but the same rules apply as before.

Example:  Tipping her head to look at him, she said, “I love you.”

The most important thing to remember is make sure the reader knows who is speaking so as to avoid confusion. The dialogue is always key to fiction…let’s get it right. Next time, we’ll explore more complicated dialogue construction.

If you have any questions in particular that you’d like to see addressed, feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to include them in the next sessions of Revisions: Writing Dialogue. It’s all about helping you find the success you deserve.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Embracing Romance

One author at a time...

Helena Fairfax

Romance author and editor, insatiable book lover, Yorkshire lass

Terri Herman-Ponce

twists, turns, past lives and suspense

atlanticteen

Tuning you in to the young adult nonfiction book world.

Matthew's Island of Misfit Toys

"Home of North America's favourite gay lumberjack"

Savoring the Past

Savoring history's repast. Discovering flavors not lost but forgotten

All Things Georgian

Super Sleuths who blog about anything and everything to do with the Georgian Era

thefunnywidow

Musings of a young widow.

Carla Swafford

Author of Action/Adventure Romantic Suspense

lisabpowell

Thoughts From a Work in Progress

Thoughts on Life and Love

Blog on emotional well being and personal development

defyingtraditionpromotionstoursetc

Helping writers and readers find time for their passion.

The 11th House

Kim Falconer's notes from the future . . .

Ella Quinn ~ Author

Bestselling author of smart, fun, spicy Regency romances with a large cast of characters.

Christina Mandara

Erotica, BDSM, Bondage and More...

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Danielle Jamie

A Place to stay up to date on all things Danielle Jamie!

Gwen Jones Writes

Seriously Snark

Brit Nanny Reads

Books & Coffee are my addiction!

Raisin' the Signal Flag

Rogues, Rebels & Rakes

Author's Taproom

Where every hour is happy hour!

Nina Mason

SOPHISTICATED HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Tori L. Ridgewood

Romance and Other Dangers

A Bottle of Bourbon, No Glass

VISIT ME AT STEPHENSAUL.COM

Kim Talks Books

...where Kim muses over all things literary.

Amanda Usen

Writer.Chef.Romantic.

Liz Everly

Romance. Food. Passion. With a dash of suspense.

doingsomereading

Now, what to read next...???

jessielanebooks.wordpress.com/

Best-Selling Romance Author

Romance With An Edge

Writing on the Edge

Karen Ranney

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

ChickletsLit

Gail Gentry

Laurie Kozlowski

Wrangler of dear daughter, incredible husband, and sweet pups. Writer and insatiable reader.

roxannecrousewriter.wordpress.com/

A Self-Published Author working to Help Other Self-Published Authors

Jessa Slade

Author of Paranormal Romance

outlanderfan.com

Addicted to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? Me too! I need a Jamie fix...

The Devil DeVere Official Fan Site

Dedicated to the fans, the characters, and the books

Romancebookworm's Reviews

Book Reviews, interesting tidbits and things I want to share.

%d bloggers like this: