Stylish Quotation “.” “.” ‘.’ ‘.’

Writing dialog. I talk about it alllll the time. Why? Because for me it’s important. I love good dialogue. What I don’t love is dialogue that has poor punctuation. There is nothing worse than having your eyes zip along the sentences to trip up on something out of the norm.  Now like all things the following is what I’ve learned about dialogue punctuation. I have read some stories that simply do not follow any of the basic rules or structure and or don’t do it consistently. Any and every book published by a real publishing house has dialogue in it that is easy to read, follow and understand. Why? Because they all follow the same rules. While stepping outside the norm and being creative is amazing, sometimes being too far from the beaten path can detract from the quality and genius of your work.

There is a time for rebellion, IMO, dialogue punctuation is not one of them. It’s honestly painful to read a block of dialog and struggle to decipher it. I shouldn’t have to.

The most simple rule is QUOTATION style. In my blog it seems to always or often use/convert to the straight up and down style quotation marks (That I don’t like). In my actual novels, I choose times new roman or Garamond so that the quotation marks are properly curled into the sentence.

Like this: “Hi.” or ‘Hi.’ or It’s
Not this:  “Hi.” or ‘Hi.’ or It‘s 

More important than direction of the curl, is to be consistent with the style of quotation marks.  Whether you use the “Double” or the ‘Single’ style of quotations is mute. So long as you stay consistent and always mark dialogue with one or the other.  The style used does seem to be geographical. Some countries teach one over the other. There are of course circumstances when I would mix them. I personally use the “Double” quotation style, which means I always, always, always begin and end dialogue with the same “Double” quotation. This is what a simple dialogue would look like.

“Honestly Dale, it was insane.” Amber said.
“How?”
“Oh she was all like, Oh my god, and totally. She had to be fifty at least. Then she took my order and said, like thanks man. I couldn’t help it and laughed, but waited until I got out of the shop.”

While that reads okay, I like to separate ‘mocking’ or quoting dialogue within dialogue. Most often I’ll do this with ‘single’ quotations (use doubles if you prefer marking dialogue with singles) Just be consistent. I also accent mocking or quoting by using italics. This is totally a personal choice. Yes, well-published authors use this too. That is where I learned it.

So done this way it would look like this:

“Honestly Dale, it was insane.” Amber said.
“How?”
“Oh she was all like, ‘Oh my god, and totally.’ She had to be fifty at least. Then she took my order and said, ‘like thanks man.’ I couldn’t help it and laughed, but waited until I got out of the shop.”

It’s most important to be consistent. You can just as easily choose only italics to accent mocking or quoting other dialogue.

Some might say this is superficial, but if you pull out any professionally published book and take a look you’ll see that dialogue quotation consistency is never broken. Being ‘creative’ or ‘fancy’ is unnecessary. Don’t try to separate speakers by mixing quotation styles. If you structure it correctly you shouldn’t need to.

My advice about Quotation style.
A classic little black dress never goes out of style. The same goes for quotation style consistency. If you want to be taken seriously, leave the creative-ego at the door and quote dialogue properly. Show your creativity in the story telling instead.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

Creative Dialogue Tags

Talking Trivial

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14 thoughts on “Stylish Quotation “.” “.” ‘.’ ‘.’

  1. I’ve got books on the shelf that change their quote style between books in a series. I don’t always notice it, but then I’ve got a few there where they change the style half way through the book. It’s quite comical when you consider how perfect publishers think manuscripts and cover letters should be half the time.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Typos! Awesome. I suppose that means it wasn’t what I get almost daily… the cut-and-paste rejections. Hang in there, someday they will see our worth. And those that didn’t, may just regret it 😉

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Oh totally hilarious. I did the same thing. Queried an agent that probably wouldn’t enjoy my violent subject matter either. 😉 But hey, you never know right?

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              1. Because the woman I contacted only wanted a short synopsis and a bio I think she was unfair in her treatment of my writing ability. Sure torture probably goes against her god fearing beliefs (maybe she hasn’t fully read the bible) but for all she knows JC himself could swoop down and save the guy at the end of the book making it a full on religious epic. But she will never know!

                Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband (a European) told me that I often write dialogue like a European, which differs a bit from the American style. I definitely have to work on changing that. I’m definitely not always consistent. I love to write and tend to write/type very quickly. I do make mistakes, but luckily my master editor (hubby) often reads my posts before I publish them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you still find my posts helpful. I am looking forward to sitting down and digging into critical error. I don’t want to give it half my attention(I have too much on the go… sigh) and I want to be able to enjoy it properly.

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