Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma-Chameleon…

nerd logoIf you get the reference of the title, you’re either OLD or HAVE COOL PARENTS or a ROCKIN’ CHOIR TEACHER.

ANYYYYYWAAAAAYYYY.

On the original version of BEEN WRITING? I had the awesome and talented author and editor CASSIE MAE on to give some tips on common mistakes, and she KILLED it, so I wanted to re-share that here.

SO! For your learning/viewing pleasure – Commas and Dialogue by Cassie Mae (only her titles are SO MUCH BETTER)

I ALWAYS FEEL OUT OF PLACE: MISPLACED, COMMAS

Two COMPLETE sentences joined by and, but, so, or, will use a comma.

A sentence using the word and does not automatically mean a comma unless it is used in a list.

Traci flew across the room and answered her phone.

Traci flew across the room, answered her phone, and tapped her foot against the carpet.

Traci flew across the room, and her foot tapped against the carpet as she picked up her phone.

 

“HOW DO I SAY THIS AGAIN?”: DIALOGUE

“A lot of times I’ll see this!” She said.

“Or this?” She asked.

“Sometimes, even this,” She grumbled.

Would you capitalize This in the middle of a regular sentence? Think of dialogue in one sentence.

“It will look like this!” she said.

“Even when it’s a question?” they asked.

“Absolutely.” She nodded.

“Wait… you capitalized that one!” They stood with accusing fingers. “And that one!”

“Yes,” she said. “Nodding is not a dialogue tag. It is an action. Therefore, it has its own sentence.”

Think of it this way…

“You can say something here.”

She nodded.

And that structure makes sense.

“But if you say something here.”

She said.

That does not make sense.

(Common actions that are used as dialogue tags and SHOULD NOT be: laugh, nod, grin, sigh.)

“Does this all make sense?” She sighed. “I hope it all makes sense,” she said.

“What do I do when I need something in the middle of a sentence?” he asked. “Where do commas go?”

“Oh,” she said, “when you pause in the middle? Just like this. If it is one sentence use commas and continue on the sentence as if you never put the dialogue tag in. However”—she scratches her chin—“if you pause with action, you use em-dashes. No commas.”

“There are too many rules to this.” He sighed.

“I agree,” she said with a laugh.

 

Cassie is one of the best editors I’ve worked with, and I love her books to teeny tiny pieces. You can find her editor self HERE, and her author self HERE

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