Wow, hard to believe the year is half over. Our topic this month was how to eat, Grandma as compared to how to eat Grandma. If you’re a bit confused, no worries. We learned how to properly use punctuation in dialogue, hence, eat, Grandma.
In the article, Talk it Out: How to Punctuate Dialogue in Your Prose, by Taylor Houston of Lit Reactor, we were given several examples, complete with commentary on the proper and accepted methods of punctuation. For example, Mary said, “Call me tomorrow.” the comma comes before Mary’s comment. In the example, “Call me tomorrow,” Mary said, the comma comes after the comment. This is true even when the dialogue tag reverses from Mary said to said Mary.
In the sentence, “Call me tomorrow,” Mary said. “Have a nice evening.” the first part is identical to the first example, however, since there was an additional comment made, it is added after the period following, Mary said, and starts with a capital letter. This does not ring true for the phrase, “Call me,” Mary said, “tomorrow.” This sentence implies that Mary wasn’t quite finished with her statement and the writer chose to break it up by placing the dialogue tag in the middle for a change of pace, perhaps.
In the article, Commas Before Quotes, by Sesquiotica, we delve further into this topic.
“When the quoted material is within a narrative frame-even if it’s the only thing in the narrative frame-and we are being taken to the scene, as it were, a comma is generally used. But when the quoted material is being treated as an instance of an utterance of that phrase, and the verb is the main rather than being an entrance point to dialogue (in other words, when the quoted material is truly the complement of the verb rather than an act of locution introduced) a comma is not called for.”
One example used is:
These are the sort of people who say “Sure thing” and then don’t do anything. [no comma there – it’s not bringing in an actual dialogue situation].
In this example, though there is a reference to dialogue, the reference is simply an observation rather than an actual phrase that was spoken, so the comma is not needed.
Throughout the article, several more examples were given to show when a comma is needed and when it is not, providing a great reference tool for writers to use in those pesky sentences where you’re just not quite sure whether or not to place a comma. We highly recommend everyone take a look and bookmark the pages for later use.
Our Summer Writing Contest is still open and entries are still being accepted.
OWLS 2016 Writing Competition, The Only Story*, open to fiction and poetry. Just $10 per submission or FREE with paid OWLS membership. Entries due by August 20, 2016. Go to OWLS’ website Contest Entry page for more details and entry form. Contest open to all writers. (* You may interpret the topic [This is the only story I’ll ever tell.] in creative ways. It could be the only story you, as the author, will ever tell; it could be the only story a character will ever tell in their life or the only one about a special topic–for example a grandfather sharing just one story about going to war with his grandson. Use your imagination but make it clear that this is somehow someone’s “only story.” You are NOT limited to using first person point of view.)
Dawn and Sarah are still working on the upcoming release of the OWLS mission and bylaws and expect to have them completed by the September meeting for everyone to read.
Our next meeting will be at the Cardinal Cafe in Stillman Valley on July 16th. Come early and grab lunch with us! And as always, if you know of anyone that likes to write, bring them along. The first two meetings are free and membership is only $25 a year after that. Hope to see you all there!