Common dialogue mistakes

I have decided to show you a couple of common dialogue mistakes, which are both an easy fix. Grammar and punctuation can be difficult to understand, and know how to use at times, but once you know, it will stick with you! These are the two I come across quite frequently.

Number one
Punctuation in dialogue.

“Hey Sara,” John said. (This is the correct way of placing a comma in dialogue.)

“Hey Sara.” John said. (This is incorrect. I often see writers placing a full stop in place of the comma.)

The reason for placing a comma before (John said) is because the sentence itself is not finished at “Hey”. “John said” is part of the sentence. However, if you don’t have a dialogue tag after the quote, you use a full stop, as the sentence is finished. Example:

“Hey Sara.” John waved at her. (See, here John is doing something after he has said it. Which means it’s a new sentence.)

Number two
Line/paragraph change and dialogue.

Often writers think that every time someone says something, there needs to be a line/paragraph change. This is correct most of the time, but there are situations when dialogue happens without a line/paragraph break. See example:

John noticed the door open. “Hey Sara,” he said and waved.

Here, you can choose to keep it as one line (John is saying this, and we know he is because of him noticing the door open first.) Or, you can choose to break it up like this:

John noticed the door open.

“Hey Sara,” he said and waved.

What is important to know here is that you are OK to use either one. I would personally go with the first option, but it is a stylistic choice, and I have seen it done both ways in published fiction.

 

I hope this was of use to some!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Melina’s Voice!

© Melina Wedin 2017

 

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