Writing Glitch #279

Today’s glitch:


Don’t capitalize the first word of a dialogue tag that follows the dialogue. There is no reason to capitalize a pronoun unless it’s the first word of the sentence or it refers to a deity. (Occam’s Razor, kids… Don’t try a “But how do you know this character isn’t a deity, huh?” argument. Believe me, incorrect capitalization is far more common in fiction manuscripts than are deities of any gender.)

Unless the dialogue ends with a question mark or exclamation point, use a comma (inside the quotation marks) to separate dialogue from its tag.

You know I’m not adverb-phobic, right? (Remember how I mock people who insist that all adverbs are Ultimate Evil of Evil-Bad-Writing-Ness and must never be used?) On the other hand, I am opposed to using unnecessary, inappropriate, or redundant words, and since whispers are soft (unless specifically stated otherwise — it is possible to whisper harshly, for example), softly doesn’t need to be there.

“You’re one of them now,” she whispered.



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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7 Responses to Writing Glitch #279

  1. M. Oniker says:

    “Don’t try a “But how do you know this character isn’t a deity, huh?” argument.” This just answered a question I was having about whether to place a comma in a similar sentence, or not. (After “try a” and the answer was “not.”) Danke.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. J.R. Handley says:

    Finally one I knew!!! I blame Corey for this one! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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