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  1. #1
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Formatting (Please help)

    Hi everyone,

    I just had a few questions about formatting. Can someone please tell me how to correctly format dialog after a narrative paragraph? Also, how should punctuation be handled in dialog? Should it come before or after the closing quotation mark?



  2. #2
    Keith .
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Not sure what you're asking in the first question, AP, but you pick up on most formatting issues like this by reading novels. On the second, closing punctuation is always in quotes.

    Blah blah," Joe said.
    blah blah." Joe hung up and took a drink.

    This includes quotes ending a sentence that aren't dialogue. Say you indicate the "special one" in narrative to end a sentence.

    It's the "special one."

    Hope that at least answers the second question.

  3. #3
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Are you writing for the U.S. market or the British market, AP? Those two markets handle quotations differently.

  4. #4
    Keith .
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    His profile says U.S. but that's a very good point, Gary.

  5. #5
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Keith - Yes it does. I don't want to format improperly. It's something I have heard mentioned before, and I want to take care of it now. In regards to the first question, I just wanted to know if I needed to indent dialog after a narrative passage.

    Gary - I am writing for a us audience.

  6. #6
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Indent every new paragraph in a double-spaced paragraph (The exception if you want to get a jump on how much book designs go is to flush left any paragraph opening after a title or section break.) If you are sending something in the body of an e-mail, then single space, flush left all paragraph openings, and put an extra line feed between paragraphs (like we do here).

    In the U.S. style, almost all punctuation goes inside the quotation mark (there are some exceptions, but they don't usually come into play with dialogue construction). Keith's examples exhibit. Incidentally, in U.S. style, also, the double quote is always the first level (with single quotes being only for material you'd put quote marks around inside an existing quoted passage).

  7. #7
    Book Werm
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Gary, I always have same confusion. For instance, which is correct?

    “Look,” he went on, reaching for my hand across the table. “I know we just met, but I care about you. I wanted out of the relationship before, without knowing exactly why. Now I know why. Please, will you give me time to work it out with Sondra,” he asked.
    or:
    “Look,” he went on, reaching for my hand across the table. “I know we just met, but I care about you. I wanted out of the relationship before, without knowing exactly why. Now I know why.
    "Please, will you give me time to work it out with Sondra,” he asked.

  8. #8
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Example one is better. If it's the same speaker, it's best to try to get it all in the same paragraph. If you don't clearly identify the speaker each time (which gets tedious), the progression from one speaker to the other has to be kept crystal clear to the reader. This is usually done by maintaining separate paragraphs for the separate speakers so that it's a given that a new paragraph closes out the previous speaker--either by narrative or dialogue by another character.

  9. #9
    Book Werm
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    Sorry Pendragin, didn't mean to take over your post, but I hope Gary's answer was helpful to you as well.

    Thanks Gary, I am often in a quandry over when to start the same character's new sentence with a new paragraph and will use your answer as guide.

  10. #10
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: Formatting (Please help)

    IMO you've got a period where you should have a comma.

    It ought to be:

    “Look,” he went on, reaching for my hand across the table, “I know we just met, but I care about you...(etc.)

    the reason being that you are interrupting a phrase or sentence with your tag.

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