Top Ten Dialogue Issues

Image result for english teacher smacking desk with ruler gif
I’M NOT! I just wanna help.

Yup, we will lightly go through everything from Punctuation to Comic Relief over the next few posts. If you are proficient or well versed in all the following items, then skip on my friend. If, however, you are human, you may need to brush up on one or seven of the following.

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We will touch on:

  1. Punctuation
  2. Attributions, Adverbs, Action tags
  3. Dialects
  4. Backstory
  5. Inner Dialogue
  6. Experimental
  7. Cursing
  8. Thematic Dialogue
  9. Comic Relief
  10. Period Dialogue
Image result for how to write dazzling dialogue
There is still plenty of time to buy your copy.

Ready? Me neither. I need a fresh cuppa and tasty nibble for all that. Run along and get your own yummies. Be prepared to read through a few posts to cover all of these. I will take them in the order presented in the pages, which may not follow the list above. Go find your copy of How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell. A side note here: You may remember the other day I was whining, yes, I do that, about wanting a lemon filled donut. Well, apparently people love me enough to buy me some, and drop them off with a, “Quit whining and keep writing,” message. Awwwww…I love my people. I felt special. I ate two without blinking and don’t regret a single calorie. Life is short and donuts are delish with a cuppa and friends.

Great- now I’m hungry. Grrr

Let’s jump into the top of our list.

  1. Punctuation
Image result for Punctuation goes INSIDE the close quote

If you are writing a book or story that contains dialogue, punctuation needs to become second nature. Yes, I know. New computer programs will do it for you. Well, I can say from personal experience, they aren’t always right. Think about that when you are trying to get your book into the hands of an agent or editor. You can be rejected just for punctuation alone.

Here are some hard and fast rules…take notes or print this off.Punctuation goes INSIDE the close quote.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“That’s a nice dress,” she said.

Not: “Where are we going”? he asked.

And There Is Always Punctuation

Not: “That’s a nice dress” she said.

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I hate red pens for just this reason.

The Punctuation Marks for Dialogue are:

  • Comma
  • Period
  • Question Mark
  • Exclamation Point
  • Em-dash
  • Ellipsis
  • Never Capitalize the Pronoun When It’s a Dialogue Attribution…Wha?
    • “Get out of this house!” he said
      • Not: “Get out of this house!” He said.
  • …But Capitalize if it is an Action Beat.
    • “Get out of this house!” He picked up the gun.
      • Not: “Get out of this house!” he picked up the gun.

This is where learning and memorizing comes into play. It is a lot to learn but will do you well in the future.

  • Put a Comma After an Attribution When it Comes at the Beginning.
    • Mary said, “I wish you would go away.”
  • If There are Two or More Sentences, and You Need a Speaker Attribution, Put it Before or After the First Complete Sentence.
    • Mary said, “Let me tell you something. Punctuation can be hard to learn.”
    • “Let me tell you something,” Mary said. “Punctuation is hard to learn.”
      • Not: “Let me tell you something. Punctuation is hard to learn,” Mary said.
  • Put a Comma After and Attribution When it Comes in the Middle of a Sentence.
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Mmmm…home cooking.

This is when you interrupt a complete sentence with the “said” option.

  • “I wish you would go away,” Mary said, “and never return.” ß Harsh much.
  • Quotation Marks are for SPOKEN Words Only
    • Not: “What am I going to do?” she thought.
    • Thoughts look like this: What am I going to do? ß preferred
      • Or: What am I going to do? She thought.
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How are we doing? Confused? Don’t worry. I am trying to make this as simple as possible, but it will still take some work on your part. If your goal is to pursue writing or simply wish to become better at it, then the work will be worth it. Even if it is to become better at writing emails or memos for your job. It works.

Hang tight- we will get through this. Promise.

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Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.

Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.

Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.

I’m always looking for new friends!

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