Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Writing tip - thanks to Nancy for this one!

I do love that every time someone is good enough to do a critique - partial or full for me, I learn something new. When Vicki did a critique for me I learned that 'was' really shouldn't be followed by a word ending in 'ing'. Which of course makes sense when it's pointed out to you, but at the time while writing, can be hard to resist. And now of course I see it frequently done in all the books I read ;p traditionally pubbed and self pubbed. So today's tip is from Nancy (author of The Magic of Windlier Woods - currently free on Amazon) after she sent me a partial critique (and again, many thanks Nancy).
When writing dialogue if the dialogue is preceded by an action then use a full stop (period) before the dialogue not a comma. Okay so some of you will be shrugging and saying. 'Already knew that.' Well I didn't and I have to assume there will be others out there that didn't know this either. I had a hunt on the net after this helpful piece of information and found a fantastic site with some wonderful tips. Have a read and I think you may want to favorite the site for future reference. 

 

Commas and Periods

A comma separates dialogue from its dialogue tag, and periods and commas ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks.
Incorrect: "You should be proud of your
name", Lin said.
Correct: "You should be proud of your name," Lin said.

The same is true of periods:
Incorrect: "You should be proud of your name". Lin turned her back on him before she could say something she might regret.
Correct: "You should be proud of your name." Lin turned her back on him . . . etc.

To punctuate dialogue divided by a dialogue tag, place a second comma after the tag, and after any words that come between the tag and the continuation of the sentence.
Incorrect: "If you try," he said his smile persuasive. "You'll find it’s easier than it looks."
Correct: "If you try," he said, his smile persuasive, "you'll find it's easier than it looks."

When a character takes action after speaking, the action usually begins a new sentence and should not be punctuated with a comma, as if it is a dialogue tag.
Incorrect: "Let's proceed, shall we," Roberta coughed, shuffling her papers.
Correct:"Let's proceed, shall we?" Roberta coughed and shuffled her papers.
(Note also that it's preferable to remove the "ing" participial phrase and replace it with the conjunction "and" to join the two actions of coughing and shuffling papers.)

Question Marks and Exclamation Marks

Both question marks and exclamation marks take the place of commas and periods; they are not used in addition to them. Also note that unlike the previous example, a period is correctly placed after the dialogue tag because the tag does not divide a single sentence but separates two distinct sentences.
Incorrect: "Watch out!," She yelled. "Do you want to get hurt?"
Correct: "Watch out!" she yelled. "Do you want to get hurt?"

Dashes and Ellipses

To punctuate dialogue correctly, dashes indicate where a sentence breaks off, such as when one character interrupts another. Ellipses indicate that the dialogue trails off, such as when one character is unsure, or does not want to finish the sentence.
Incorrect: "I told him we would break his . . ."
"Quiet," he said. "You don’t know who"s listening."
Correct: "I told him we would break his—"
"Quiet," he said. "You don't know who's listening, or even
worse. . ."

Spacing

If indentations are used in the text, indent the first line of dialogue. When one character stops speaking and the focus moves to another character's speech or actions, begin a new paragraph.
Incorrect: "Watch out!," She yelled. "Do you want to get hurt?" He shrugged and made a face. "Not really."
Correct: "Watch out!" she yelled. "Do you want to get hurt?"
He shrugged and made a face. "Not really."
Keep each characters' response and descriptive material with his or her dialogue.
Incorrect: His eyes dropped to her chest, lingered there, and then moved back up to her face.
"Pretty locket."
What nerve! He had deliberately stared at her breasts. Her voice took on a frostier edge.
"Is there something I can do for you?"
Correct: His eyes dropped to her chest, lingered there, and then moved back up to her face. "Pretty locket."
What nerve! He had deliberately stared at her breasts. Her voice took on a frostier edge. "Is there something I can do for you?"

Capitalization

The first word of dialogue is always capitalized.
Incorrect: He said, "we can be there by morning."
Correct: He said, "We can be there by morning."
When dialogue is divided by a speaker attribution, begin the second half of the sentence with a lowercase letter, not an uppercase one.
Incorrect: "We can be there by morning," he said, "If we get started right away."
Correct: "We can be there by morning," he said, "if we get started right away."
Never capitalize the dialogue tag. A lowercase letter follows the punctuated dialogue.
Incorrect: "Yes, it's mine," Said the woman.
Correct: "Yes, it's mine," said the woman.

I don't know about anyone else but I learnt lots from that *grin* Hope this helps, now must dash I'm off to German Sword instruction with Loi and Sian. We had our first lesson on Monday night and it was so much fun we're going again tonight.
Take care all!
Nic
 The Arrival, on Amazon or UK Amazon or Smashwords 

6 comments:

  1. German Sword instructions? Sounds like a blast! Enjoy! Take care
    x

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  2. Thanks for the shout out. It's always good to read a refresher. Interesting that there is more than one kind of sword instruction. I've learned everything off the history channel when it comes to swords.

    The earthquake and big wave had me worried. Glad to see you are okay.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

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  3. Hi Old Kitty - is a blast! Sore arms now though *lol* I'm pleased it's not again till Monday night ;p

    Hi Nancy - My pleasure :) The earthquake we didn't even feel and though civil defence got all excited about the big wave I think it just resulted in a high high tide ;p still better to be safe than sorry

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  4. I shan't lie...

    commas do my head in.

    :-)

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  5. Oh do you still want footage of proper sword fighting???

    Chris is going to take some footage on the weekend, i can see if i can get it for you if you would still like it. Might be able to get some of the big knife or staff fights as well.

    let me know

    sarah

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  6. great post Nicole!
    I knew most of it, but some i was still a bit iffy!

    Awesome to the sword fighting! Wow!

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