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 Forum index » Off Topic » Creative Works
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Dialogue Grammar Tutorial
 
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Avea
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Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 197

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 9:19 pm    Reply with quote

Since Author Idol showcased many bad writing habits, and the most common of these was appropriate grammar in dialogue, I thought I'd write up a quick tutorial which you can glance at if this is something that causes you trouble.

If you have any questions or would like further examples or clarification, drop a line, and I'll see what I can do to help.

If it doesn't cause you trouble, feel free to look over it any way, and let me know if I'm unclear, inaccurate, or otherwise wrong at any point. I'm as prone to error as anyone else.

Dialogue Grammar Tutorial

I.) What do you capitalize? When do you capitalize?

1.) Capitalize the first word of a sentence, whether it is a quotation or not.

WRONG:
Quote:
He asked me, “how do you do?”

RIGHT:
Quote:
He asked me, “How do you do?”


2.) Do not capitalize speech tags, unless, of course, the speech tag begins with a proper noun.
WRONG:
Quote:
“How do you do?” He asked me.

RIGHT:
Quote:
“How do you do?” he asked me.

WRONG:
Quote:
"How do you do?" Asked George.

RIGHT:
Quote:
"How do you do?" asked George.

WRONG:
Quote:
"How do you do?" george asked.

RIGHT:
Quote:
"How do you do?" George asked.


3.) Do not capitalize the second half of split sentences.
WRONG:
Quote:
“To tell the truth,” he admitted, “You aren’t looking very well.”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“To tell the truth,” he admitted, “you aren’t looking very well.”


4.) Do not pretend something is a split sentence if it is not.
WRONG:
Quote:
“I don’t want to go to a movie,” he complained, “do we have to?”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“I don’t want to go to a movie,” he complained. “Do we have to?”


5.) Make sure you know which side of a split dialogue your speech tag goes to.
WRONG:
Quote:
“I don’t want to go to a movie,” he added hopefully. “Can we just stay home?”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“I don’t want to go to a movie.” He added hopefully, “Can we just stay home?”


II. Where does the punctuation go?
1.) Commas and periods always go before the quotation mark.
WRONG:
Quote:
“I forgot”, he whined.

RIGHT:
Quote:
“I forgot,” he whined.


WRONG (unless you’re in England where there is a better rule):
Quote:
“But he said ‘Me too’, didn’t he?”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“But he said ‘Me too,’ didn’t he?”


2.) There is always some form of punctuation between dialogue and the rest of a sentence.
WRONG:
Quote:
He laughed “Why do you say that?”

RIGHT:
Quote:
He laughed. “Why do you say that?”


WRONG:
Quote:
He said “I don’t want to.”

RIGHT:
Quote:
He said, “I don’t want to.”


WRONG:
Quote:
“What do you want from me” she demanded.

RIGHT:
Quote:
“What do you want from me?” she demanded.


3.) Question marks and exclamation points follow logic rules.
WRONG:
Quote:
“Did you hear Michael said, ‘I don’t want to?’”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“Did you hear Michael said, ‘I don’t want to’?”


III.) Nested Quotes.
1.) If a character quotes a character, the inner quote should follow all the same dialogue rules except that single quotation marks should be used rather than double.
WRONG:
Quote:
“So then he said, “Make me.””

RIGHT:
Quote:
“So then he said, ‘Make me.’”


IV.) Paragraphs
1.) Every new speaker/actor receives a paragraph of his or her very own.
WRONG:
Quote:
“I told you!” he said. “You did not,” she said. “Did so.”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“I told you!” he said.

“You did not,” she said.

“Did so.”


WRONG:
Quote:
“Don’t laugh at me,” she said. He laughed again.

“Try and stop me.” She glared at him.

“You’ll be sorry!”

(This in particularly bad and confusing. It’s very easy to get the actions and speakers confused.)

RIGHT:
Quote:
“Don’t laugh at me,” she said.

He laughed again. “Try and stop me.”

She glared at him. “You’ll be sorry!”


2.) Even when someone just acts and doesn’t speak, he still gets a new paragraph.
WRONG:
Quote:
“Don’t laugh at me,” she said. He laughed. “I said to stop!”

RIGHT:
Quote:
“Don’t laugh at me,” she said.

He laughed.

“I said to stop!”


3.) If a speaker continues talking for more than one paragraph, all paragraphs except the last do not have close quotation marks, but all paragraphs have open quotes.

WRONG:
Quote:
"So you have a character talking and talking and talking and going on long enough with enough of a subject change that you need a new paragraph."

"Transition sentence into the second paragraph of the same person's talking. This way he can keep going as long as he likes."

"In fact, he can even have three or more paragraphs!"


WRONG:
Quote:
"So you have a character talking and talking and talking and going on long enough with enough of a subject change that you need a new paragraph.

Transition sentence into the second paragraph of the same person's talking. This way he can keep going as long as he likes.

In fact, he can even have three or more paragraphs!"

RIGHT:
Quote:
"So you have a character talking and talking and talking and going on long enough with enough of a subject change that you need a new paragraph.

"Transition sentence into the second paragraph of the same person's talking. This way he can keep going as long as he likes.

"In fact, he can even have three or more paragraphs!"


V.) Talking to somebody
1.) when one character is talking to another character and uses their name or a nickname, the name/nickname/whatever should be set off by commas.

WRONG:
Quote:
"Raven are you ready?"

RIGHT:
Quote:
"Raven, are you ready?"


WRONG:
Quote:
"I'm talking to you dumbass."

RIGHT:
Quote:
"I'm talking to you, dumbass."


WRONG:
Quote:
"So tell me Beastboy what were you thinking?"

WRONG:
Quote:
"So tell me Beastboy, what were you thinking?"

RIGHT:
Quote:
"So tell me, Beastboy, what were you thinking?"

VI.) Quotes versus paraphrases
1.) A quote is when you are typing the exact words that are being spoken. A paraphrase is not. Quotes get quotation marks. Paraphrases do not. This often changes the whole meaning of the sentence. These are not so much write or wrong as having entirely different meanings.

PARAPHRASE:
Quote:
Joe said I’m gonna get you.
Means: Joe claims that I (the narrator) am going to get you (the reader).
QUOTE:
Quote:
Joe said, “I’m gonna get you.”
Means Joe is going to get whoever he’s speaking to. Which may or may not be the narrator.

PARAPHRASE:
Quote:
Joe said Mike was gonna get me.
Means: Joe claimed that Mike was going to get the narrator who was neither Joe nor Mike.
QUOTE:
Quote:
Joe said, “Mike was gonna get me.”
Means: Joe clamed that Mike was going to get Joe.

VII.) Netiquette
1.) We read screens of information. It is easier to read if laid out nicely. Leave a blank line between paragraphs. (When not writing for the internet, a single hard return followed by a tab will suffice.)
WRONG:
Quote:
“Did so.”
“Did not.”
“Did so.”


RIGHT:
Quote:
“Did so.”

“Did not.”

“Did so.”


2.) Don’t choose your line length. Different pages and browsers and personal settings are set up to show different fonts and sizes. What to you looks like nice even short lines to someone else might look like a godawful mess. Hit enter only when finishing a paragraph and let the computer’s formatter do the rest.

WRONG:
Quote:
I don’t really have anything to say here, but I
want to write enough to illustrate the point. So
I’ll just say that I hope you’ve found this tutorial
helpful, and that it will help your writing and my
reading! Have a good one!


RIGHT:
Quote:
I don’t really have anything to say here, but I want to write enough to illustrate the point. So I’ll just say that I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful, and that it will help your writing and my reading! Have a good one!

Last edited by Avea on Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:12 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Spazz
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:11 pm  Reply with quote

Thank you. So. Much.
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SushiChica
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:35 pm  Reply with quote

Holy crap, I'm favoriting this.

I'm favoriting this, then referring back to it every time I write.

THANK YOU.

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Forau
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Joined: 11 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:53 am  Reply with quote

Stickied for mandatory reading.
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Super Karoru
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:07 pm  Reply with quote

Very helpful and informative. *thumbs up!*
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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 6:59 am  Reply with quote

A suggestion: in section I.2, in reference to not capitalizing dialogue tags, perhaps you should specify the notable exception of proper names? Seems like common sense, but just thought I'd throw it out there.
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Toboe LoneWolf
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:55 pm  Reply with quote

I logged on after three months to say yes.

Remember exactly two English-class related stuff from my Freshman English class:

1) Read or Die

2) The 11th commandment: "PUNCTUATION ALWAYS GOES INSIDE THE QUOTATION MARKS."

Thank you.

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Avea
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Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 197

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:32 pm  Reply with quote

Thanks, Cid-- I'll change that. Sorry for the delay, for some reason my topic notifications don't always work right *mutter*

Edit: Done! I also added what to do if you have one speaker rambling for more than a paragraph.

Edit again: I also inserted a new section V. It's for how to talk to people. eg "So, Robin, where are we going?" versus "So Robin where are we going?"
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Gigga Bouser
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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 1:37 pm  Reply with quote

COOOL! This could be super useful!
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koriand'r
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Joined: 01 Oct 2004
Posts: 566

PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 2:41 am  Reply with quote

Suppose I should throw something useful.

If you want your grammar checked, learn how to do it best or have someone check out how you structured out your words, detail and such then http://writingforums.com/ is a site pretty much dedicatred to that if you are serious about your writing.

And proof that even the gods themselves are flawed: http://www.bookmistakes.com/

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Cylor
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:48 am  Reply with quote

Thanks again for posting this, Avea, I referred to it just last night for something I'm currently working on! Very Happy
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SushiChica
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Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:50 am  Reply with quote

It's like...Aeva's Writer's Bible, Book of Grammar.
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Avea
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Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 197

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:41 am  Reply with quote

hehe--glad you guys are still getting some good out of it:) I keep thinking of doing one for commas, but haven't worked up my courage to dive in to a project that size yet *laugh*
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BlackWolf
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Joined: 13 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:01 pm  Reply with quote

Avea wrote:


2.) Don’t choose your line length. Different pages and browsers and personal settings are set up to show different fonts and sizes. What to you looks like nice even short lines to someone else might look like a godawful mess. Hit enter only when finishing a paragraph and let the computer’s formatter do the rest.

WRONG:
Quote:
I don’t really have anything to say here, but I
want to write enough to illustrate the point. So
I’ll just say that I hope you’ve found this tutorial
helpful, and that it will help your writing and my
reading! Have a good one!


RIGHT:
Quote:
I don’t really have anything to say here, but I want to write enough to illustrate the point. So I’ll just say that I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful, and that it will help your writing and my reading! Have a good one!


You're referring to me, probably >_>

Haha

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Dewflower
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2008 2:35 pm  Reply with quote

YOU FRIGGIN ROCK

GRAMMER NERDS UNITE!
HUZZAH Very Happy
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