10 Minute Mentor – Dialogue and Punctuation

28 May

For me, dialogue is my default setting as a writer. My Fast Draft has tons of unpunctuated dialogue scenes that read almost like a blind script and need all the details put in later. The more you know the basics and automatically do them when throwing the first draft on the page.

And so, here it is, Dialogue and Punctuation – otherwise known at college who linked to my old blog as “the blah blah blah” post.

Making a statement:

If the tag is first, a comma should be placed after the tag, before the quotation mark,  and the period inside the quote. If the tag appears after the statement, there is a comma before the second quotation mark.

She said, “blah blah blah.”

“Blah blah blah,” she said.

Middle of the statement tags:

If your tag is in the middle of the sentence, same rules basically apply.

“Blah blah,” she said, “blah blah blah.”


“Blah blah,” she said. “Blah blah blah.”

Asking a question or exclaiming:

When you ask a question or exclaim with tags/beats, the entire thing is written as one sentence. The question mark stays within the quotations and the tag is still part of the sentence just like with a statement:

“Blah blah blah?” she asked.    OR   “Blah!” she shouted.

She asked, “Blah blah blah?”    OR   She shouted, “Blah!”


These are the basics of dialogue mechanics. Also, if you EVER have a chance to attend one of Julia Quinn’s talks on dialogue, RUN, don’t walk, and get in line – it’s fabu! Seriously, she really dives deep and every writer, no matter their genre, can learn a ton in a short day with her.

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