Review Board Is Now Open! SPECIAL CALL Poetry and Short Prose!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Deadline: Thursday, September 16th

It’s easy to get tripped up when writing dialogue. In North America the rule is to use double quotation marks around the words of the speaker; this seems simple enough but the most common problem lies in the placement of punctuation other than quotation marks. Writer’s Relief expert proofreaders offer some tips!

The standard rule is to include periods and commas within the quotation marks:

She said, “I don’t believe you are telling the truth.”

“I don’t believe you are telling the truth,” she said.

“I don’t believe you,” she said, “and I no longer trust you.”

“I don’t believe you!” she exclaimed.

“Should I believe you?” she asked.

“Fine, don’t believe me,” he replied. “You’ve never trusted me.”

Submit to Review Board

Note that dialogue tags (she said, he replied) must be a “speaking action,” whereas non-speaking actions (he snorted, she glared) are not punctuated as tags and should be treated as separate sentences:

“I don’t believe you are telling the truth.” She glared at him.

“Fine, don’t believe me.” He snorted with disgust.

Use single quotation marks to mark dialogue within dialogue:

“And then I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t believe you!’” she said.

She said, “And then I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t believe you!’”

“And then I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t believe you!’ and he walked away.”

Another general rule is to start a new paragraph for each new speaker. It makes for a clearer picture of the give-and-take of a “conversation” and helps the reader switch from speaker to speaker.

Some writers use italics to set off dialogue, while others use no special punctuation at all. However, unless you’re Hemingway or Joyce, our proofreaders believe it’s best to save the italics for quoted thoughts and use traditional punctuation for your dialogue. For clarity’s sake, whatever format you choose, keep it consistent, and your readers will thank you.

6 Comments

  1. Joy

    This was helpful. Please feel free to add more details. Good work!

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth

    Thanks you. Such important information and so easy to forget.

    Reply
  3. Paula

    Thank you. I was just struggling with how to deal with inner dialogue and regular conversation punctuation. This helped.

    Reply
  4. Connie Clark

    There was a little confusion on this subject for me. But this topic shed some light! Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Donald Conrad

    "Yeah," Donald said, "I’ve botched that in the past." He sipped his tea and considered what he had just learned.

    Reply
  6. Judy Kane

    This is great. I didn’t know that dialogue tags versus non-speaking action tags were treated differently. Thanks!

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Assignment: February 2 « Mrs. Baker Said WHAT?!? - [...] for dialogue in a story. Think about books you’ve read! If you feel like you need more help, read…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Review Board Is Now Open! SPECIAL CALL Poetry and Short Prose!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

 

 

Search

Reviews

“Getting that first poem published was the hardest threshold to cross. My team at Writer’s Relief kept encouraging me…then came the acceptance! We celebrated…then I continued writing, and Writer’s Relief continued doing the wonderful work they do!”

—King Grossman, Writer
(Watch King’s video testimonial here!)

“Every piece I have sent out with their help has been accepted for publication! I am looking forward to working with the team on getting my new novel out into the world.”

Services Catalog

Free Publishing Leads
and Tips!

Featured Articles



 

Featured Video

Follow us!



YES, IT'S MY LUCKY DAY!
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link


STOP! BEFORE YOU GO...
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link
Live Chat Software

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This