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punctuation in dialogue

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  • saffy_ol
    i know this may seem a simple question but when writing dialogue, after a question mark or an exclamation does the dialogue tags first letter stay in lower
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 23, 2006
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      i know this may seem a simple question but when writing dialogue, after
      a question mark or an exclamation does the dialogue tags first letter
      stay in lower case or does it go to capital letter?

      eg.1: "What were you thinking?" he yelled at her.

      as opposed to,

      eg.2: "What were you thinking?" He yelled at her.
    • Alyse
      ... It stays in lower case, just as it would if the dialogue ended in a comma. Think of it this way - a dialogue tag (the bit attached to the dialogue) is
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 23, 2006
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        On 6/23/06, saffy_ol <saffyol@...> wrote:
        >
        > i know this may seem a simple question but when writing dialogue, after
        > a question mark or an exclamation does the dialogue tags first letter
        > stay in lower case or does it go to capital letter?


        It stays in lower case, just as it would if the dialogue ended in a comma.

        Think of it this way - a dialogue tag (the bit attached to the
        dialogue) is still a dialogue tag whether the dialogue is a question
        or an exclamation. And part of the reason is that the subject of a
        dialogue tag is the dialogue itself.

        In other words, the dialogue tag isn't a complete sentence on its own.
        So, for example, you wouldn't write a sentence that consisted solely
        of the words 'He said.'

        So it's the first example that's correct, i.e.

        > eg.1: "What were you thinking?" he yelled at her.

        Just because 'He yelled at her.' is a complete sentence in another
        context, doesn't mean that it is in this context. He's not just
        randomly yelling at her. He's yelling *those specific words*,
        therefore they're part of the same sentence as the speech.

        That's a good way of spotting dialogue tags. They're elements to
        expand and explain what's going on with speech - who's talking, how
        they're speaking.

        - if you can take them away and still have the sentence make sense; and

        - they don't really form a sentence on their own (i.e. if you take the
        speech away)

        then chances are that they're a dialogue tag and you need to use a
        comma not a full stop and lower case.

        This link gives some more information and probably a better explanation :)

        http://rynne.decemberproject.net/essays/dialogue_tutorial_sw.html

        --
        love and Thorntons' chocolates

        Al

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