Formatting and punctuating dialogue in fiction is a real stumbling block for many authors. There’s a simple and easy explanation of the most used dialogue, tag, and action combinations, and how to punctuate them, over on my editing website.
One of the most confusing elements of writing dialogue is how to format and punctuate it properly.
There are so many perceived rules and regulations it can become a nightmare for authors to remember what to do and when.
I’ve broken it down into three simple steps:
- Every new speaker needs a new paragraph
- What the character says stays on the same line/paragraph as what they do
- Only use a comma if the dialogue is followed by a tag, otherwise, use a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark
Emma and Paul were watching TV. ‘Come on,’ Emma said.
‘Let’s go to the pub.’ She grabbed his hand to pull him off the sofa.
‘I’m not sure I’m in the mood,’ Paul said. ‘Shall we go…
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