Punctuation and Dialogue


Punctuation and Dialogue

Natalie Bright

 

Short pause: Commas.

Medium pause: parentheses, semicolon, em dash.

Long pause: period, question mark, exclamation mark, colon.

  • A readers’ reaction to punctuation is involuntary.
  • Remember to always create a new paragraph for each change of a different character speaking and keep the punctuation inside the quotation marks.
  • If you are using a dialogue tag, then use a comma inside the quotation marks before the tag. Use a period if you are not using a tag after.
  • If the action or dialogue tag comes first, a comma goes after the tag and a period falls inside the quotation marks at the end. If the period or exclamation mark punctuates the main sentence, then it falls outside the quotation marks.

For your writing reference library, add THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE.

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Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon


Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

By Rory C. Keel

For me the correct place for using a comma seems as elusive as a chameleon. Hidden somewhere between subordinate clauses, independent clauses and coordinating conjunctions, the comma hangs out waiting for a slight pause.

Here are five basic rules to help in using a comma.

  1. Never place a comma between a subject and its verb or between a verb and its object.
  2. When a subordinate clause introduces an independent clause, separate the two with a comma.
  3. Don’t use a comma to separate the clauses when a subordinate clause follows an independent clause.
  4. Use a comma before the appropriate coordinating conjunction to join two related sentences.
  5. When in doubt, leave it out.

Remembering these basic rules will help you put them where they belong and leave them out where they don’t.

 Roryckeel.com

Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon


Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

By Rory C. Keel

For me the correct place for using a comma seems as elusive as a chameleon. Hidden somewhere between subordinate clauses, independent clauses and coordinating conjunctions, the comma hangs out waiting for a slight pause.

Here are five basic rules to help in using a comma.

  1. Never place a comma between a subject and its verb or between a verb and its object.
  2. When a subordinate clause introduces an independent clause, separate the two with a comma.
  3. Don’t use a comma to separate the clauses when a subordinate clause follows an independent clause.
  4. Use a comma before the appropriate coordinating conjunction to join two related sentences.
  5. When in doubt, leave it out.

Remembering these basic rules will help you put them where they belong and leave them out where they don’t.

 Roryckeel.com

The Semicolon


The Semicolon

By Natalie Bright

 

To separate two closely related sentences joined without a connective.

To separate sentences joined by conjunctive adverbs (e.g. however, moreover, therefore, or other transitional expressions).

To clarify the main break when sentences joined by coordinating conjunctions, which are ordinarily separated by commas, contain enough internal punctuation to obscure the main break.

www.nataliebright.com

STYLE


STYLE

By Rory C. Keel

Style is the quality that makes your writing easy to understand and pleasant to read. Style is different from punctuation and grammar which rarely factor in a writer’s style because they are generally standardized. For example, you could write a grammatically correct piece of work using large amounts of passive verbs with few active verbs and have poor style.

Practice

Good writing style is developed with practice. The more you write the better your style gets. Here are a few helpful suggestions to work on:

  1. Save the most interesting or important words for the end of the sentence.
  2. Use parallel structure in your writing. In other words, use consistency in sentence structure.
  3. Avoid echoes. This is a repetition of a word multiple times in a sentence or paragraph.

As you write and revise, your own personal style will develop over time.

 

Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon


Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

By Rory C. Keel

For me the correct place for using a comma seems as elusive as a chameleon. Hidden somewhere between subordinate clauses, independent clauses and coordinating conjunctions, the comma hangs out waiting for a slight pause.

Here are five basic rules to help in using a comma.

  1. Never place a comma between a subject and its verb or between a verb and its object.
  2. When a subordinate clause introduces an independent clause, separate the two with a comma.
  3. Don’t use a comma to separate the clauses when a subordinate clause follows an independent clause.
  4. Use a comma before the appropriate coordinating conjunction to join two related sentences.
  5. When in doubt, leave it out.

Remembering these basic rules will help you put them where they belong and leave them out where they don’t.

 

A NEW RULE


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A New Rule

Okay, class, it’s time to talk about grammar.  Stop groaning. Grammar is very important to a story. Yes, I know it’s boring and I know there are way too many rules for it to be reasonable. However, we’re going to take a new approach.

The accepted guidelines for creative writing today can be found in the Chicago Manual of Style, which is a gigantic tome and anyone who has memorized the whole book deserves a giant pat on the back.  But proper punctuation and noun/verb usage is not necessarily what our lesson is about today.

Today we’re going to talk about creative grammar. Now this is not the license to throw away all the rules in the name of art. In fact, knowing what the rules are is very important to this lesson, and I’m going to add a new rule that will make punctuation become as important to your story as your characters and plot. Ready?

IT’S OKAY TO BREAK THE RULE IF YOU KNOW WHAT THE RULE IS AND WHY YOU NEED TO BREAK IT.

I have read stories where the punctuation and grammar is so perfect that the whole thing is very stiff and formal and unfriendly – and not a lot of fun to read. On the other hand, I have read a few stories where the author uses grammar and punctuation, fonts, italics, all-caps, and bolds almost as characters in the story. These authors have achieved something so mouthwatering that a magic spell is woven that forces the reader to keep reading until they see the words “The End.”

Become friends with grammar and punctuation and let it breathe life into your stories. Don’t be afraid to experiment with its uses—or lack of (as long as you know why)—and watch your story develop a beating heart and start to live.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle