Punctuation in Dialogue

Hi guys! In the editing corner today I thought we’d talk about punctuation in dialogue. This is something a lot of people have questions about. There are action tags and dialogue tags. If you use an action tag, i.e. He laughed, he turned, she walked away. Then you are going to close the dialogue with a period and start the next phrase with a capital letter. Examples:

“I know you didn’t just say that.” She turned and marched out the door.

“The cat crawled up John’s leg and I thought he was going to turn purple, he was so mad.” Helen’s laughter was an aphrodisiac of its own.

Dialogue tags, any form of said: whispered, murmured, shouted, exclaimed, mumbled, muttered, sputtered, spluttered, choked, gasped, uttered, declared, stated, cried, answered, replied, exclaimed, etc. close the dialogue with a comma and start the following phrase with a lower case letter (unless it is a proper noun)

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked.

“We always seem to end up arguing,” she cried.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured.

In the case of question marks or exclamation points follow the same rules; if it is an action tag capitalize the following word. If it is a dialogue tag use lower case.

Always make sure your punctuation is inside the quotation marks.

See you next week in the editor’s corner!




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