Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Link: Punctuating Dialogue

The messier details of dialogue punctuation and capitalization annoy me.  An article clears up some of the fog with these six rules:
  1. Use a comma between the dialogue and the tag line 
  2. Periods and commas go inside the quotation marks in American writing
  3. When a tag line interrupts a sentence, it should be set off by commas. 
  4. To signal a quotation within a quotation, use single quotes
  5. For interior dialogue, italics are appropriate, just be consistent.
  6. If a quotation spills out over more than one paragraph, don't use end quotes at the close of the first paragraph. Use them only when a character is done speaking.
Most of them are obvious, but these rules and the accompanying rules of capitalization make writing dialogue less of a headache.