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Punctuation and dialog : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Punctuation and dialog

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
tkdubb
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Punctuation and dialog

Postby tkdubb » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:02 am


tkdubb
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby tkdubb » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:48 am

I'm actually very curious as to why you said that. I'm strictly talking about usage during a dialog. I simply can't imagine anybody using "OK" as they are telling the story, in that since I totally agree with you.

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pls
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby pls » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:36 pm

"OK" is not a word - the word is "okay". And Wikipedia is not a reliable source for English usage.

Don't use italics for occasional thoughts. But whatever you choose to do, be consistent and use italics for EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT. (Now do you understand why italics are generally NOT used for thoughts?)

Reserve italics for foreign words and phrases and for when you want to emphasize a word and for entire passages (but be careful - as italics are hard to read).

Finally, don't use apostrophes for plurals.

And thanks for posting this as a separate topic.
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onceuponwednesday
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby onceuponwednesday » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:47 pm

The Rule of Three

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timgoodwin
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby timgoodwin » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:26 pm

I agree that punctuation, dialog and/or proper grammatical usage is paramount in having a piece well received, however, I believe that one must get the work out there before worrying about any such critical or technical corrections. While the imagination and the inspiration are one don't ever stop for correction. Just one man's opinion.
Just be yourself allowing all others to do likewise and life will become something to behold.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:45 pm


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:52 pm

First, there's a lot of debate about whether it's all right to use OK, but most fall on the side of Okay, and there's no reason at all not to use okay. It means typing two more letters, it is a word, and it means no one is ever going to have Oklahoma pop into their heads when they see Ok on the page.

As for italicizing thoughts, don't do so in a routine manner. Everything happening in your character's head, even conversations, is thought. Say the italics for truly important thoughts. Think of it this way. If the thought is not important enough to warrant an exclamation marl if used in dialogue, it is not important enough to warrant italics. There should even be many direct thoughts.

tkdubb
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby tkdubb » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:04 pm


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onceuponwednesday
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby onceuponwednesday » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:35 pm

There have been books where the main character talks to someone in his head as well as to other people outside his head. I read the first chapter of one recently but I can't remember the title. The other voice in the head had a different font, like italics. I think that's totally acceptable.
The Rule of Three

tkdubb
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Re: Punctuation and dialog

Postby tkdubb » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:46 pm

I don't know, maybe showing you a little will help you see what I'm trying to do. Basically, on the outside, this guy is trying to hold it together but inside, he is spacey, nervous, unfocused, pretty much, he is all over the place. In my head, as far as the story is concerned, what is going on in his head is very important especially because the other personality, although she is very feisty and is constantly giving him a hard time, she is the one that is holding him together.
Here is a shorty of what most of the book is like when I'm not pulling you into the scenery.

Realizing I haven't' taken a single breath and I was talking in almost double time, I took a short pause to catch my breath and tried to relax. "You need to relax man, slow down and breath, breath in, breath out."
From the deep recesses of my mind I hear, "hehe, do you need a bag, don't hyperventilate."
"Really, this isn't funny."
From somewhere in the room I hear a woman curiously asking, "why is the planet flat?"
Just as I was about to answer the question, in the front row, a young lady in her mid to late twenties abruptly jumps out of her seat. My eyes open wide, my heart pounding, my chest feeling like it is caving in, shaking so bad my skin may detach from my body and drop to the floor. "Give me a heart why don't you lady." She just stood there staring at me for a moment with a look on her face I couldn't quite explain at first but it made me a little nervous. "Definitely not finding that relaxed place that I was looking for, holy s*** lady."

Does that make a difference, will my use of italics still be frowned upon and I have a lot of work to do?

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