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Marking Dialogue

March 14, 2014

A clear and concise guide on the conventions of written dialogue. Well worth a look, this.

Writin' Fish

Dialogue Marks

I see a lot of talented writers these days who still have trouble when it comes to the conventions of dialogue tagging and paragraphing in narrative, so I thought I’d do a little guide on how to properly punctuate around those all-important lines of speech.

Let’s take a look at the four main types of dialogue demarcation, and I’ll give a rundown on where each of them belongs.

When to Comma

The ubiquitous comma should be the most familiar device.  Use it with explicit dialogue marking – i.e., to separate speech from a phrase which directly indicates the speech (words like ‘said’, ‘asked’, ‘shouted’, etc.). This is your basic, everyday dialogue construction.  The marking phrase can be either before, after, or in the middle of the dialogue.

“I want a hamburger,” the dinosaur pouted.

Taliana asked her husband, “Can you pass me the salt?”

“I guess chocolate is fine,” Emmy…

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