Dialogue Punctuation Edited

Just got the edited story back from my instructor and I still have a lot of problem with dialogue punctuation. Here are a few notes to remind myself of the rules.

Use a period and capital letter if it’s a separate sentence.

  • “Not you again,” he stumbled back, “disgusting.”
    “Not you again.He stumbled back.Disgusting.”
  • “You’re delusional,” she pushed pass him.
    “You’re delusional.She pushed past him.

Use a comma before the quote mark if what follows is a dialogue tag (such as He said.)

  • “Sure, if that’s how you want to take it.” She said.
    “Sure, if that’s how you want to take it,she said.

Other things I noticed but not in a conversation.

  • Why “Miss Ugly?” He contemplated.
    Why “Miss Ugly?” he contemplated.
  • Gotta get back to the lab and make sure. He decided.
    Gotta get back to the lab and make sure, he decided.

My 1st Rejection

Just got my first rejection e-mail from PseudoPod. The editor, Shawn Garrett, was kind enough to reply with useful tips.

  • Remember to use contractions in dialog: “I am” is not as natural as “I’m.”
  • People don’t usually use first name when they talk to their partners. “Thanks, Kevin.” should be “Thanks, Kev” or “Thanks, dear.”

“Said” is good enough

Just got back from a PNWA workshop: How to Write A New York Times Bestseller, taught by Robert Dugoni.

After a day of learning, I now have a lot to fix, even for my latest short story. One thing I didn’t want to believe: don’t use anything else but “said” when writing dialogs.

I have also read it in Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. These two bestselling authors have told me so, who am I to argue.

Tomorrow, I will first edit out the “non-said” dialog tags, then check the beginning and the end of each scene to eliminate boring statements and summaries.

Can I do it gracefully?