Dialog Punctuation and Capitalization

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King Neptune

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I was about to start a thread to ask this but found this sticky thread. It helps a lot! The interrupting tag is what I was looking for. I just have to ignore my MS Word complaints:
"The main reason behind this," he explained. "is the fact that he is in his manic state."

Word wants to cap the next quoted statement, then add a question mark because it starts with "Is".

You put a period where a comma should be after "explained".
"The main reason behind this," he explained, "is the fact that he is in his manic state."

See the opening post.
Tag interrupting a dialog sentence
:
"That," he said, "is fine. Whatever you decide."
"That, "he said, "is fine. What does she think?"
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?133858-Dialog-Punctuation-and-Capitalization
 

Maryn

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It's worth one's time to read all the stickied posts on this board, for the record.
 

indianroads

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Dialog tag:
"She is there," he said.
"I see her. She is there," he said.
"Is she there?" he said.
No dialog tag:
"She is there." He laughed.
"I see her. She is there." He laughed.
"Is she there?" He laughed.

I've been mistakenly calling the 'no dialog tag' mentioned above an 'action tag'. Sometimes though they feel awkward if the action tag occurs before the dialog. Such as:
He nodded. "Yeah, I think so too."
or
There was a crowd forming in the street. "What's going on out there?"

Admittedly that's a really simple example - but what are the rules regarding this sort of structure?
 
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Fallen

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I've been mistakenly calling the 'no dialog tag' mentioned above an 'action tag'. Sometimes though they feel awkward if the action tag occurs before the dialog. Such as:
He nodded. "Yeah, I think so too."
or
There was a crowd forming in the street. "What's going on out there?"

Admittedly that's a really simple example - but what are the rules regarding this sort of structure?

So long as it's obvious who's speaking, the fewer speech tags, the better, imho. With your examples, though. You don't really need 'He nodded' if the speaker says 'Yes' too. Or vice versa. You don't need 'Yeah', if you have him nodding as an action. It's needless repetition sometimes, so:

He nodded. "I think so too."

With the seocnd example, it would need to be clarifide who speaks for it to make sense. E.g.,

A crowd formed in the street. Geoff shifted the blind a little more and gave a sniff. "What's going on out there?"

But there's nothing wrong with mixing action with dialogue.
 

thewonder

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I have a question, which is as to whether it isn't merely a matter of convention to place the comma inside of the quotation marks. If you feel like doing so, is it really incorrect to place it outside of them?
 

Maryn

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In the US, the rule is that the comma goes inside the quotation marks. A manuscript submitted with them placed outside will be considered a manuscript with errors, not a manuscript by a freewheeling soul who feels no need to follow the conventional rules.

Whoever screens submissions before an acquisitions editor sees the most promising ones will have their antennae up seeking more mistakes. My understanding as an outsider is that it may take as few as three in as many pages for your work to land in the rejection pile--and it can be three of the same mistake.

When you are Cormac McCarthy, you (or I) can do what you will about quotation marks and how commas are positioned in relation to them, but I suspect neither of us will reach that point.

So yes, it's really incorrect for works published in the US.

Maryn, who could go on about special circumstances in dialogue punctuation
 
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Helix

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I have a question, which is as to whether it isn't merely a matter of convention to place the comma inside of the quotation marks. If you feel like doing so, is it really incorrect to place it outside of them?

You. Can do what; you like, with punctuation...but -- expect editors to correct it. To: a readable' and standard form


.
 
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Maryn

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You. Can do what; you like, with punctuation...but -- expect editors to correct it. To: a readable' and standard form


.
Or reject it, which is faster. Ordinarily there's never a shortage of submissions that are in need of little revision.

Maryn, who writes pretty clean, in terms of necessary edits
 
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Oscar1

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Reading this, I recalled the book title:

"Shut up," he Explained.
 

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