Posts Tagged ‘dialogue’ Archive

Sentence Sunday! Punctuating Dialogue

I’ve learned over the past months that I do not punctuate dialogue correctly and I’ve noticed it’s an easy thing for people to mix up.  So, today’s lesson is on punctuating dialogue.  Aren’t you excited?!

The main source of confusion is comma versus period and when to capitalize letters.

Capitalize vs Not Capitalize

“Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!” yelled Juliana.

Here, the y on yelled is not capitalized because yelled is a continuation of the sentence ‘Stop chewing on that book.’ A good way to look at it is to read it as a whole sentence, Stop chewing on that book, yelled Cale.

“Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!” The binding on the book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper.

In this example, the T on The is capitalized because a new sentence is beginning. ‘Stop chewing on that book’ is separate from ‘The binding on the book…’

The book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. “Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!” Running toward her dog, Juliana curled her fingers over the soggy, torn cover of Nevada Barr’s book, Blind Descent, and realized she would have to buy a new copy.

Each of these sentences are complete on their own and so all start with a capitalized letter.

Juliana yelled, “Stop chewing on that book!”

And here, the letter S on Stop is capitalized even though it is a continuation of the sentence ‘Juliana yelled’ because it is the start of dialogue.  The beginning word in dialogue is always capitalized.

Comma vs Period

“Piglet! Stop chewing on that book,” yelled Juliana.

The first time I used this example I had an exclamation point, but here I’ve changed it to a comma.  I would not use a period because ‘yelled Juliana’ is not a sentence of its own, as I said before, it’s a continuation of ‘Stop chewing on that book.’ The comma is used to connect the tag to the dialogue.

The book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. “Piglet! Stop chewing on that book.” Running toward her dog, Juliana curled her fingers over the soggy, torn cover of Nevada Barr’s, Blind Descent, and realized she would have to buy a new copy.

Just as before, all of these are new sentences and so use periods and not commas.

“I hope,” said Juliana, “that my book tasted good, Piglet.”

‘Said Juliana’ is set off by commas because it interrupts the dialogue and is not a separate sentence of its own.

Alright, there are a few examples and explainations for you.  If you think of any I’ve missed, add them in the comments section 🙂

Lesson From My Dogs

First, I won! Pia Bernardino hosted a contest on her blog (http://solittletimeheresmine.blogspot.com) and I won a $10 gift card to Amazon. How amazing is that.  I’m going to have to put some good thought into what books to get…hmm…

Sometimes, in my writing, I have a hard time with silence and have to put a lot of work into sections where I do not have dialogue.  I try to put time and thought into what a characters mannerisms are that will make them unique, so if a reader only reads their movements or thoughts they will immediately know which character it is.  This is a lesson I have learned from my dogs (and have to continue working at!!).

Prefontaine is my Boston mix (both dogs are rescue mutts) she has a firecracker personality.  I don’t mean she’s loud and rambunctious, but she is intense.  She always lets you know what she is thinking and feeling.  She’s the dominant female of the family and often butts Piglet out of the way so she can get attention.  This includes crawling on top of Pig if she’s cuddling with me.  When she’s happy she squiggles; she’ll roll onto her back and twist back and forth, grunting.  She’ll belly crawl across the carpet with a huge smile on her face in the morning.  I’ve never seen a dog so happy to wake up for the day.  Along with her happiness, comes an opposite pouty nature.  She lets you know when she’s mad.  If I go out on a run and don’t take her I come back to her sitting on her dog bed.  Her head will be down and she won’t come see me for an hour, at least not until I am fully punished.  Pre also does not like carrots.  She’ll sniff and push her head away to tell you so.

Piglet (German Shepherd/Pitt Bull mix), on the other hand, is not an attention seeker.  She often lays at the opposite end of the couch and does not like cuddling all that much.  She’ll give kisses, but they’re tentatively given- you can tell she thinks hard about who and when she’ll give them out.  She snorts when she’s happy, when she’s sleeping, and when she’s getting her belly scratched.  She loves nothing better than swimming and running off leash when we’re at the trails.  Often, she’ll disappear in the house and we’ll find her asleep on our bed.  It seems to be her ‘safe’ place.  Not much bothers or upsets her, she seems to be even keel in emotion.  She also has refused to learn how to walk on a leash so we have to walk her on a harness, which she absolutely hates and backs away from when we start putting it on.

How much do you learn from someone from their body language, without talking to them?  Quite a lot.

The happiness tip for today isn’t really a happiness tip, but a piece of advice for writing.  I have real life inspiration for my character, Rupert.  To get to know Rupert better, I sat and watched my inspiration and wrote pages purely on his mannerisms and things that made him unique.  After that, I picked out the ones that were Rupert.  My advice, is to take time getting to know your characters actions, the parts that make them interesting and be sure that is put into your writing.  This will develop those characters in your readers’ imaginations and will stick much better than any dialogue!