Writing Books/dialog


Dear Rhonda,

I have questions about dialog. First here is what I believe I know.

Use double quotes for standard dialog

Use single quotes for dialog inside dialog. In other words, when someone is talking and telling us what someone else said.

I have been reading a lot and have seen the following dialog situations in many forms. I am looking for the most standard, I guess.

How are the following dialog situations punctuated?

1.   During a dialog I have a thought, but do not want to say it out loud.
2.   During the narrative I have a thought that will help the story.
3.   I create a situation where an inanimate object says something (i.e., the look on his red face says, Go ahead, try to screw with me again)

Also, when I put in a thought is the first letter capitalized?

Any other cool tips will be greatly appreciated.

         Sincerely, Dick Schlueter

Hi Dick,

Although this isn't a specialty area of mine, I wanted to offer you some assistance.  The below links should have answers to your questions and more.  Hope this helps!  

http://uwc.ucf.edu/handouts/Quotations_Dialogue.pdf  (University Writing Center)

http://www.iolani.honolulu.hi.us/Keables/KeablesGuide/PartFour/QuotationMarks.ht (Keables Central)

http://www.will-ludwigsen.com/gym/quotation.htm (Writing Gym)

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Rhonda Campbell


I can answer questions on how to get published in magazines and newspapers; how to market your own books; how to earn a living writing; how to write press releases; how to find a good editor; how to edit your own books; finding a good printer; finding a good book illustrator; doing your taxes as a freelance writer. Questions I can't answer include specifics around working with a print on demand publisher


I have 36 years of experience as a writer (fiction and non-fiction). I am a book reviewer with Nielsen Media. I am a newspaper columnist and a reporter. I am a former radio station host and I am the editor of a literary newsletter, The Book Lover's Haven. I am also the author of more than 10 books.

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I have taken numerous writing courses on book, proposal and grant writing as well as marketing and promotion

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