A Deep Look at Dialogue Punctuation
|Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann at pixabay.com|
While editing and critiquing others' writing, I've noticed several writers making a specific error while punctuating dialogue. The error crops up when the writer uses speaking tags with more than one sentence of dialogue.
The most common error I see in punctuation appears like this:
“Maligon, you betrayed me. And so you betrayed us all,” Queen Chiora said.
Tags With Multiple Sentences of Dialogue
Keep in mind that every time someone different speaks, you start a new paragraph. So to correct the dialogue example from above:
You can attach the speaking tag to the first sentence of dialogue
The first sentence contains the tag. The second one is in quotes with a period inside the closing quote. It stands alone, but we know the queen said it because it's part of the same paragraph.
In the second set of quotation marks, you can have several sentences since we're not restricted by the speaking tag:
In this second example, there are three sentences inside the second set of quotation marks. This works because we don't have a speaking tag dangling from this passage.
You can revise it into one sentence
You have to ask yourself how the character in your story would say it.
What about beats?In my manuscript, I used beats instead of a speaking tag. A beat provides a separate sentence of action within the paragraph that shows what's happening as the person speaks:
Other Dialogue InformationI've written multiple posts on dialogue. Below are two that will help you get started on the right track when writing dialogue:
3 Fundamental Rules for Writing Correct Dialogue
4 Guidelines for Writing Realistic Dialogue
Questions on dialogue punctuation? Drop me a line in the comments.