The topic of character thoughts has come up repeatedly for me in the last couple of weeks, and I promised to address punctuation for inner dialogue. Inner dialogue is simply the speech of a character to himself. To do so would make them vulnerable, naked, without protection.
First, they are used to enclose words and phrases to which special attention needs to be drawn. If a word is used out of context or in some other unusual way, such as to include a slang word in formal writing, or when it is being used sarcastically, it should appear in quotes: Sentence two involves sarcasm; that is, a meaning that is exactly opposite of what is said.
The final sentence uses quotes to insert a slang expression into a more formal context; omitting the quotes would make it seem that the writer was using informal language inappropriately.
A second use of quotation marks involves titles. Use them in the following instances: I enrolled in P. Quotation marks are used to indicate direct quotations and dialogue. It would follow, then, that they are not used to punctuate indirect quotations including the recounting of dialogue.
Now here are three very important rules about punctuation with quotation marks that you should memorize or at least write down and keep handy: Periods and commas always occur inside quotation marks: Semicolons and colons always occur outside quotation marks: Question and exclamation marks may occur inside or outside quotation marks, depending on the meaning of the sentence: But in the next sentence, the question is being asked by the whole sentence and not the quotation, so the question mark belongs outside the quotation marks.
Finally, sentence three has both the sentence and the quotation asking questions. In this case, the mark belongs inside, where everybody understands that it stands for both questions. You should never write: Logical though it may be, the double question mark is unnecessary. Now look at a couple of examples using the exclamation mark, where the same logic applies: In the second, of course, the exclamation is made by the one being quoted, so the exclamation point belongs inside the quotation marks.
Well, from a stylistic viewpoint, it saves dialogue passages from becoming boring and stiff-sounding. In a long quote or line of dialogue, using an interrupting attribution can remind the reader who is speaking, or serve to reinforce the main ideas of a quote by separating them and making each more distinct.
But what concerns us, of course, is the punctuation involved with attributions, wherever they may appear in the sentence.
Examine the following in its three versions: Notice the following things about these three sentences: When the attribution comes first, it is followed by a comma. When the attribution follows the quotation, it is preceded by a comma.
Quotations always begin with capital letters, no matter where they come in the sentence. Rather, it comes at the end of the first sentence of dialogue, and is punctuated accordingly.
The second line of dialogue actually has no attribution at all. To prevent the reader from being confused about who is speaking, each change in speaker is indicated by a new paragraph. Finally, her mother went upstairs, and I leaned over and kissed Janet.Today I present the next in my Ways to Say series: Ways to Say Good.I covered ways to say bad last time, so I guess this is no big surprise..
What was a surprise is how difficult it was to limit the list to Good is such a broadly-used word, covering so much ground, it has literally hundreds of potential synonyms depending on context and the specific type of “goodness” one wishes to.
Answers to Questions About Referring to Death "Here are three questions about how to treat references to people who have died, and my responses.".
Quotes and Dialogue Now we come to a biggy, the handling of quotation and dialogue. Quotation marks are used to indicate direct quotations and dialogue.
It would follow, then, that they are not used to punctuate indirect quotations (including the recounting of dialogue). If you cite a passage of dialogue of four lines or more, follow the rule for offset quotation, but remember to use double quotation marks at the beginning and end of the spoken portion to indicate that a character is speaking.
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