Writing Glitch #66

Today’s glitch:


Begin a new paragraph when there is a new speaker, or when the focus of the narration shifts. Don’t combine dialogue from more than one speaker into the same paragraph.

Use a comma to set a direct address apart from the rest of dialogue.

A little girl is sitting on a train next to a man in black.

“What do you do, mister?”

Taking off his sunglasses with a faint smile, he says, “I make bad people go away.”

It may be better to change the beginning of that last paragraph: Taking off his sunglasses and smiling faintly, he says, “I make bad people go away.” It shouldn’t be confusing here, but the original version could be interpreted as the man using the smile to remove his shades, and that’s just weird.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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