Getting the Hang of Dialogue Punctuation – Part 2

Last week, we discussed how to use dialogue punctuation correctly. This week, we’re sharing an extract from the Editors’ Bible dealing with internal dialogue (thoughts). I hope many of you find this information useful and use it to improve the quality of your books, thereby saving you money on a professional edit (if the editor you hire charges according to whether a light, medium or heavy edit is needed, that is – it’s advisable to check before paying anyone to edit your work).

Internal dialogue/thoughts are always italicised and written in first person, present tense (using the pronouns: me; my; mine; I). For example:

I hate it here, James thought.
The spots of blood look suspicious, he thought.

If it’s part of the narrative, however, no italics are used. For example:

James hated it there.
The spots of blood looked suspicious, he thought.

Note that the end comma is also italicised in cases where the dialogue tags come after the thought.

If a question is asked in thought, there’s no question mark if the dialogue tag (he said; she said; etcetera) comes after the thought. A comma is the only punctuation that can be used at the end of direct thought that’s followed by dialogue tags. However, if the dialogue tag comes before the direct thought, other punctuation can be used to end the thought. For example:

Why am I here, she asked herself.
She asked herself, why am I here?
Wow, she thought.
She thought, wow!
I wish I could sleep, he thought.
He thought, I wish I could sleep.

Often, direct thoughts don’t have any dialogue tags attached to them. For example:

James thought the spots of blood looked suspicious. There’s got to be foul play here.

For more language rules, you can now purchase the Editors’ Bible for only $1 at Smashwords, until Christmas Day only. It’s a steal! Use the following code at checkout to claim your discount: CK47M.

As always, please don’t forget to leave a review if you find the book helpful (or a comment if this post helped you to gain a better understanding of dialogue punctuation).

Happy holidays!

xmas tree


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