Punctuating Dialogue – A Simple Start

  Did  you say something?    she asked.

I’m going to assume that you will stick to the basic “said” and “asked” when using dialogue tags. This is a good way to keep out of trouble when writing dialogue. If you keep in mind that people don’t smile words or laugh them, it will help you to keep the punctuation correct as well.

Here are some simple sentences using quotation marks (note the location of the punctuation).

“I’m going to practice writing dialogue,” Rose said.

“Is it difficult?” George asked.

If you want to avoid the dialogue tags (said and asked) you could use some action verb instead, but it must be separated from the spoken words and placed in its own sentence.

“It’s as easy as making a pie.” Rose laughed. 

George rolled his eyes. “Then it’s pretty hard to do.”

Notice the periods separating each sentence.

If you want to put a dialogue tag in the middle of a sentence (that is, if the spoken words would make a sentence if you take out the dialogue tag) it might look like this:

“Writing dialogue,” Rose said, “is as easy as making a pie.”

“In that case,” George said, “it’s pretty hard.”

Notice the comma before and after the dialogue tag and the lower case letter where the second part of the spoken sentence begins.

If you have one person speaking two separate sentences and you want to put the dialogue tag between the sentences, you would use a comma before the dialogue tag and a period after it. The new sentence begins with a capital.

“I like to write dialogue,” Rose said. “It’s as easy as making pie.”

“I think I have a lot to learn,” said George. “Will it help if I have a piece of pie as I write?”

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