Sunday, January 16, 2005

Casey: Quotation Mark Question

In reference to the line-by-line you did for "Forever Flower," I am confused about the usage of quotation marks when one person is speaking and there is a paragraph change.

Can you please clarify?

Thank you.


1 comment:

Casey said...

Regarding quotation marks surrounding dialogue, the bottom line is this: End quotation marks are used ONLY after the character stops speaking.

This rule is true whether the character pauses for stage directions ("I won't go." She tugged at her sleeve. "I don't care what you say.") or she talks on and on for paragraphs.

When a character talks for paragraphs, the quotation marks MUST be used at the beginning of each new paragraph of dialogue, as a reminder to the reader that the character has not stopped speaking. Ending quotations are used ONLY at the end of the final paragraph of speech. The reason for this: Readers are accustomed to the rule: Change speakers, change paragraphs.

When you place an ending quotation mark on one paragraph of dialogue and begin the next paragraph with quotation marks, it's a signal to readers that a new speaker is speaking. I instructed you to remove all the ending quotation marks from all those paragraphs of dialogue because you weren't changing speakers by changing paragraphs . . . your character was simply rambling on and on, talking aloud to herself. Only when she stopped speaking did you need to end her monologue by using end quotation marks.

I hope I've explained this rule better here than I did on your copy.