Writing Glitch #226

Today’s glitch:


Here we have an example of a dialogue tag interrupting the single sentence of the dialogue itself. Some writers who have no trouble inserting the tag between sentences don’t know what to do when there’s only one sentence to work with.

The way the original is written, “Which is worse” is a statement, not a question, and “Emotional pain or physical pain?” is a sentence fragment. This doesn’t work.

“Which is worse,” she wondered, “emotional or physical pain?”

Notice the first word after the tag is not capitalized, and the period after wondered has been changed to a comma.

(Just so you know, wondered isn’t the same thing as asked; the latter implies that the speaker is addressing the question to someone else and wants an answer, whereas the former is often just thinking aloud.)


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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2 Responses to Writing Glitch #226

  1. This is very helpful to know. I have sometimes wondered about the use of “wondered.” Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M. Oniker says:

    I am playing a game with myself on these. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but it just turned out to be the the way I am encountering these posts. I read the clip in the box, and then I try to figure out the correction — before reading your corresponding post. I’m getting inordinately pleased with myself when I think, “Nailed it!” Of course, more often than not, I think, “DOH!” when I’ve missed part (or all) of the correction. I shall try not to disclose which is what on a particular post. (“Nailed it!” on this one.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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