From My Perspective – Periods In Dialogue Tags
Lately, in most of the manuscripts that have been shared with me, and even in some books that I’ve been reading, I’ve been noticing a slight trend. I don’t really know the cause of this, but it really is a little disturbing. Perhaps it’s because the writer’s are not exactly sure about punctuation. Perhaps they’re not aware that they’re actually doing it. Or maybe it’s because they’ve been taught to do so. Whatever the case, the method of this practice is not the correct one.
You see, I’ve noticed that when writing dialogue, a good many of the writer’s will use a period instead of a comma whenever the dialogue tag carries over.
I.E. “I think I’ve finished.” Linda said.
The above sentence structure is not the correct way to write it. The period signifies that the sentence is complete, and therefore, has ended. In the above example, the sentence carries over. Therefore, it is not complete.
The end of the dialogue tag is not the end of the sentence. Quite a few seem to think so, but it’s not. The correct punctuation for this is a comma to separate it, NOT a period.
I.E. “I think I’ve finished,” Linda said.
The ONLY time a period is used in dialogue tags is to signify that the sentence is complete.
I.E. “I think I’ve finished.” Linda tossed the last book into the box and walked away.
This trend is something that I’m noticing way too much and it’s one that should not be encouraged. If you’re not sure as to what the correct punctuation for dialogue sentence structures are, don’t be afraid to ask someone. That way you’ll know exactly what the proper procedure is so that you can effectively shape your dialogue sentences.
This is one of the many things that agents, and editors, look at when manuscripts are sent their way and can be the cause of why a manuscript can sometimes be rejected. Great punctuation is the key in getting your manuscripts noticed – be it for an Indie publisher or that of a Traditional one. So before you submit something to someone else make sure that your punctuation is spot on, including that found within your dialogue.