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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!

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!

The TEN Most Common Mistakes in Writing

10 Most Common Mistakes in Writing

We are all guilty of using crutch words and common misspellings but some mistakes are made over, and over again by many of us, regardless of correction or laziness. Are you one of the members of the guilty party?

 

Mistake number 1

WHO or WHICH

WHO refers to a person/persons/people and WHICH refers to things/animals but never to a person.

The girl who was always late for class was chastised often.

The dog, which ate the boy’s homework, was punished.

**And replacing it with that doesn’t make it right either.

 

Mistake number 2

Commonly misspelled words:

SEPARATE

DEPENDABLE

RECOMMEND

ALL RIGHT – this one especially, there is no such word as alright.

RESPONSIBLE

INDEPENDENT

 

Mistake number 3

ITS, IT’S, and ITS’

First of all…there is no ITS’, none, nada, never!

ITS is the possessive form of IT.

Every dog has its day.

IT’S is the contraction for IT IS or IT HAS.

It’s raining outside. It’s been a wonderful day.

 

Mistake number 4

EMPTY ADVERBS

First a definition of adverb for those who don’t know what it is.

Adverbs are used to modify verbs. They tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed. In most cases, adverbs are one word but they can also be adverbial phrases.

Empty adverbs are those adverbs, which are unnecessary, and tend to be overused as filler and can be seen as redundant. Examples:

ACTUALLY   /   BASICALLY   /   COMPLETELY   / CONSTANTLY      LARGELY  / LITERALLY  /   SERIOUSLY  /  TOTALLY  / INCREDIBLY

UNUSUALLY   /   VERY   / REALLY   / FINALLY  / ABSOLUTELY  /

and many more.

It doesn’t mean these cannot or should not be used but instead, used sparingly and only when the action needs bolder, more urgent emphasis.

The ship was filling with water and the reality of death was becoming a seriously incredible possibility.

 

Mistake number 5

THERE, THEIR, and THEY’RE

Their is a possessive form of they.

They’re is a contraction of they are.

There is used to signify a place, or as an empty word to start a sentence.

Their goals were lofty.

They’re hungry after playing the game.

There are seven days in a week.

 

Mistake number 6

LOOSE vs LOSE

A very common mistake.

Lose means you have lost something

Loose refers to a certain fit.

If your shoes are too loose, you might lose them running for the train.

 

Mistake number 7

SITE AND SIGHT

Sight refers to your sense of vision.

Site refers to a location or place.

The sight of children playing together always brings a smile.

Before it shut down, that history site was one of my favorites.

 

Mistake number 8

THE APOSTROPHE

For the most part, there are only two reasons to use an apostrophe.

One…for contraction as in don’t for do not.

Two…to show possession as in Dave’s house.

If ever you are in doubt as to whether or not to use an apostrophe…just say no, and leave it OUT.

 

Mistake number 9

THE SEMI-COLON

What is a semi-colon? A semi-colon is part comma and part period. In non-fiction, it works well as a strong comma but in fiction, it tends to act as a weak period.

In fiction, it can halt or block the flow of the text, whereas in non-fiction, it helps break up long explanations, which in another world be called run-on.

Ideally, we don’t want run-on sentences in either type of writing but most definitely not in fiction.

A semi-colon should never, ever be used in place of a colon.

The child appeared to be healthy; however, the doctor chose to wait.

 

Mistake number 10

THE ELLIPSE

Ellipses are not just random dots in punctuation. It has specific uses and is always created by using THREE consecutive dots with no spaces before or after. ONLY 3!

Use an ellipse when there is an intentional omission of words or as a pause in speech or thought, but do not overuse. Although, to be honest, I’d rather see them used more often than semi-colons if it’s fiction.

“You over there…yes, you,” he called across the field.

The man had attempted to scale the wall twice…falling wasn’t his plan.

 

And there you have them…the Ten Most Common Mistakes in Writing. Trust me, there are many more but if you can master these, your writing will improve hugely.

Is there anything you’re not sure of but are too afraid to ask? Feel free to ask. Advice is always free.

Happy Writing Everyone!

You Truly Cannot Judge A Book By Its Cover or Its Blurb – Every Book Needs Editing

LG Book for Sale

We all love to look at book covers. We enjoy the different images, the sexy ones, the elaborate ones, and the ones that intrigue us, but are the covers the most important things about good books? Then again, just because a cover draws my eye and the blurb is intriguing, will I enjoy the read? Not necessarily. I’ve read my share of books with fabulous covers where the story was so amazing, it could be wrapped in brown paper and I would still love it. But we truly cannot judge a book by its cover – or blurb.

With the onset of digital books, covers still attract but it is ultimately the blurb, which sells the book. I’ve discussed the importance of a great blurb, which captures the reader’s attention and sells the book. What happens after the blurb and the cover already hook the reader but when he/she begins reading the actual story, it just isn’t as good as was expected?

Well, in some cases the reader has actually asked for a refund. Oh yes, my friends, readers have asked for refunds on digital books which only cost them a mere 99¢. I’ve purchased my share of books, which turned out to be okay reads or even something I couldn’t finish because they were poorly written but honestly, I never asked for a refund. Print copies, I donate to a local library or book bank, and digitals, I just forget about them or delete them from reader, but I’ve never asked for a refund. I always thought it was too much like going to the movies, sitting through the entire thing and then asking for a refund because it was horrible. I say chalk it up to taking a chance on the unknown. So, when I hear a reader has asked for a refund on a digital book that cost only 99¢, I can only assume the reader is actually doing so to make a statement.

What statement, you ask? A statement I totally agree with and support. Indie publishing is competitive enough without readers being pushed away from taking chances on unknown authors who might be extraordinary storytellers by those who refuse to acknowledge that even the best authors don’t publish without an editor looking at it first. Yes, that’s where the problem is with books that aren’t even worth 99¢ – poor or worse, no editing at all.

Authors who publish through traditional publishing have editors who work for the publishing house who scrutinize the entire manuscript, make suggestions on how to improve it, point out awkward writing, grammar and spelling errors, as well as catch continuity problems. Admittedly, I still find all of the above in traditionally published works but hey, no one’s perfect. Although, I do have to wonder why everyone, including the author, editor, copyreader, proofreader, and beta readers all miss them but what can I say, I guess everyone’s not perfect.

These are all things that an author cannot see without stepping away from a work for months or even years in order to come back and look at a manuscript with a fresh eye. Who has that kind of time, right? No one, not if they want to publish it in a timely manner. It’s for this reason, every author – EVERY AUTHOR – needs an editor who will scrutinize every word, every line, make corrections, pay attention to continuity, and make sure the story makes sense, flows well, and the characters grow as well as making sure the plot coming to a sensible conclusion. It’s a lot more than just putting words on a page and telling a story – it’s creating a world the reader wants to climb into every time he/she picks up the book. It’s a creative work, which will leave the reader happy they read it and eager to read more by the same author, not return it for a refund of 99¢.

So who is your editor? Don’t think you can afford an editor who will do your work justice? Who will polish it until it shines so bright, anyone who reads it will exclaim over its ability to hook, capture, and keep the reader’s attention and never wish to ask for a refund? You can afford an editor. If you’re looking for someone to do all that for your manuscript, just give me holler. It’s what I do and I do it well, without breaking your bank.

Happy Writing Everyone!

The Most Commonly Missed Editing Errors That Can Ruin A Great Read

Bad editing

As a reader, as well as nit-picky editor, I get very discouraged when I find major errors in a finished work that might have otherwise been a fabulous read, if only it hadn’t made me stop and think about what should have been written there instead.  I always have to wonder what the editor or proofreader was doing while giving the work its final read. Did they just run it through spell check or grammar check and hope that all the boo boos were caught?

Continuity Errors:

Continuity errors can consist of such things as wrong dates, number of items used by a character repeatedly throughout the story, the color of hair or eyes, or nicknames for characters. As the creator of a world, action, or character, you don’t want your readers stopping midst the action of the story to wonder if they imagined the number of husbands someone had or the color of the hero’s hair or eyes as wrong. I see this happen far too often. It can happen to any of us. Most likely it happens because as the author was writing she/he decided to make a change but didn’t catch all of the places in the work that needed replacing. Frankly, it’s an easy switch out to make if your program has a find and replace feature. But then again, an objective second set of eyes will inevitably help.

Missing words:

A missed word here or there can happen to the best of us. Our brains tend to move faster than our fingers on a keyboard and if an author is writing longhand, it’s guaranteed that a word or two will get dropped as the story unfolds. When an author reads over what’s been written, she/he is too close to the story to always catch these holes in the prose. Our brains will fill in the blanks without us realizing anything is awry. A good editor should always find these holes that can cause a reader to trip through the words.

But THE worst error in my book of things that can wrong:

Wrong Names!

Yes, the wrong name being used at the wrong moment can send a reader into a tailspin causing them to read and reread a line, a paragraph, or even go back pages to reread thinking they’ve missed something. I know, as a reader, I’ve done it. I’ve even read books where a character’s name from a completely different work showed up in place of a character in the current one. Very disconcerting, distracting, and frankly, it can take a lot away from the scene and the overall impact the book has as a whole.

My point is that nothing beats a second or third pair of eyes to ensure that everything in a book is copacetic and exact in order to tell the author’s story in its best light. No program, no spell check, or grammar check can spot all of the missing words, no proofreading program that simply looks for misspellings can catch a he where it should be a she or a wrong name, wrong color of eyes, or a missing word that might change the entire aspect of a scene. The only way to catch these errors is with the reader’s eye.

When I read a book, I want to enjoy it. I read many ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and so expect to find errors – after all, it’s not always complete – and so I allow my brain to fill in the holes where words should be and hope that someone somewhere has caught the error before it goes to print. But at the same time, I always worry about those wrong names, wrong hair color, and other things that skew the story. I worry that they weren’t caught and are going to worm their way into the final publication and so, yet another potentially great read goes down with a less than stellar effect on the reader. This is why I created Romancing Editorially, to help those authors whose works need that nit-picky, detail-oriented, pain-in-the-ass person to look at every aspect of their manuscript and hopefully catch those nasty errors so they don’t ruin a great read.

So what errors in novels drive you nuts and keep you from just relaxing into the story?

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