Writing Books/punctuation


DCear Bobby'

which is correct?

When will this incessant waiting end? He kept thinking.

When will this incessant waiting end? he kept thinking.

Thanks, I think it's "he kept thinking."


When a sentence in your own writing raises such a question, perhaps the best solution is to recast the sentence to avoid the issue. If it were my own writing, I would recast the sentence in either of the following ways:

C. He kept thinking, When will this incessant waiting end? (note: When will this incessant waiting end? should be in set italics, but italics do not show up on this website)

D. He kept wondering when the incessant waiting would end.

If you are editing someone else's work, however, you would not want to rewrite, but edit, in which case my preference is the following, because the sentence itself is not a question but a statement:

E. When will this incessant waiting end, he kept thinking.

That said, I work with at least one traditional publisher that does embed a question mark in such a case. Its style would then call for a modified B. The italics don't show in the following example, but note that the thought (When will this incessant waiting end?# is in italics, and the attribution #he kept thinking) is in lowercase Roman type. Yes, your spellchecker will highlight the h and want you to capitalize it; another reason to recast the whole sentence for clarity.

F. When will this incessant waiting end? he kept thinking.

Consistency matters, so if you use style F in one place in a manuscript, continue to use that same style throughout the manuscript.

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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