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smallthunder
08-08-2006, 03:01 AM
I've been fudging this for far too long -- perhaps someone out there can set me straight?

What sort of punctuation and/or capitalization does one use with dialogue embedded in text?

And what about trailing/incomplete statements?

For example:


"Not fair to subject you to all these questions, eh?" he [He?] asked, with a wink.

"Oh, no, that is not ..." she began to say. [She?]

"Oh, no, that is not --" she began to say.

Jamesaritchie
08-08-2006, 03:46 AM
I've been fudging this for far too long -- perhaps someone out there can set me straight?

What sort of punctuation and/or capitalization does one use with dialogue embedded in text?

And what about trailing/incomplete statements?

For example:


"Not fair to subject you to all these questions, eh?" he [He?] asked, with a wink.

"Oh, no, that is not ..." she began to say. [She?]

"Oh, no, that is not --" she began to say.

If the attribution is a continuation of the question, you use lower case.

But my advice is to drop almost all of it. With the first sentence try:

He winked. "Not fair to subject you to all these questions, eh?"

Or "Not fair to subject you to all these questions, eh?"

I believe "he asked" is redundant. The question mark has already said "He asked." Why say it again?

With the second two "she began to say" is redundant. It's just repeating what the dashes have already said.

Never repeat what the punctuation has already said.

smallthunder
08-08-2006, 05:52 PM
Great advice!
Thanks.:)

jchines
08-08-2006, 06:23 PM
I'd go with James' advice about dropping the redundant speech tags. If it's a situation where the reader might be confused about who's talking, you can also use a bit of action:

"Not fair to subject you to all of these questions, eh?" He sat back in his chair and winked.
The em-dash indicates interruption. The ellipsis generally means someone's trailing off. From what you wrote, I'm not sure which applies. If someone is cutting her off, or if she simply stops talking, I'd go with:

"Oh, no, that is not --" she began to say.
On the other hand, it could be something like this, too:

"Oh, no, that is not..." she began to say. Her voice trailed off as the implications of that wink set in.
And I'd probably cut "she began to say," too. Hope this helps!

reph
08-08-2006, 09:11 PM
smallthunder, if you learn better from examples than from statements of rules (we each have our own style of absorbing information), find some books in your genre that have a lot of dialogue and see how they did it. Looking at several is a good idea because the odd book that does things differently would be a poor model.