Standard Dialogue Punctuation

Making sure that your dialogue is properly punctuated is one of the most important things you can do as a writer, because these are literally your characters’ words coming to life. Funny dialogue will fall flat if a comma in the wrong place breaks the emotion or creates confusion.

You want your reader to read the dialogue the way you imagined the character said it, and unless they are listening to an audiobook, the reader can only rely on appropriate punctuation and dialogue attribution words to clue them to how the dialogue is to be read.

The standard punctuation for dialogue is determined by the placement of the dialogue attribution (def.: any words that describe the way the dialogue was said).

If the dialogue attribution comes after direct speech, then the word following the closing quotation mark shouldn’t be capitalized, unless it is a proper noun.

“I shouldn’t have done it,” he moaned.

“Holy crap, was that a bat?” Andrew asked.

“Jesus, you scared me!” she screamed.

If the dialogue attribution comes before direct speech, then you capitalize the first word of the spoken sentence.

He moaned, “I shouldn’t have done it.”

Andrew asked, “Holy crap, was that a bat?”

She screamed, “Jesus, you scared me!”

If the dialogue attribution happens in the middle of the dialogue, then appropriate punctuation and capitalization depends on whether or not the dialogue itself is a full sentence or consists of two independent clauses.

Scenario A

When the dialogue is a complete sentence, the dialogue attribution is set off by commas, and the first word of the second part of the dialogue is not capitalized.

“Adam,” Nancy called, “can you grab the hammer on your way down?”

Here the dialogue is a full sentence that reads: “Adam, can you grab the hammer on your way down?”

Scenario B

When the dialogue consists of two independent clauses, the dialogue attribution is followed by a period, and the first word of the second part of the dialogue is capitalized.

“I don’t know guys,” Pam murmured. “If Carmen finds out about this she’ll be pissed.”

Here, attempting to separate the dialogue with a comma would result in a comma splice:

“I don’t know guys, if Carmen finds out about this she’ll be pissed.” Pam murmured.

By simply using the right punctuation and capitalization in the right place, your reader can better sense Pam’s trepidation, as the period makes the reader pause before discovering what Pam is afraid of (Carmen’s reaction).

Post SignatureWhat is the funniest dialogue punctuation error you’ve found in your own work? Tell me in the comments!

Commonly Confused: Know vs No

While not as common a mix up as other homonyms, I still see this one quite frequently. This particular word swap is a matter of spelling, context, and usage.

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Know implies a context where one’s comprehension, understanding, or awareness is being discussed.

“Do you know where my hairbrush is?”

Are you aware of where my hairbrush is.

No implies a context where one is disagreeing, negating, or refusing whatever is being discussed.

“That’s a no on going to the store today, Cameron.”

They are negating their plans to go to the store.

Sometimes your brain thinks one word, and your hands type another. It’s okay. As long as you conscientiously read through your work, you can avoid this homonym confusion.

Post SignatureHave a funny Know vs No typo story? Share in the comments!



Why You Should Write Character-Centric Humor

Picture this.

Alexa is a woman who values honesty, fidelity, and a good nature. She’s good people, always there with a kind word and a helping hand. But don’t get her angry; she’s a firecracker.

She goes for a business lunch, and as she comes back from the bathroom, who does she see, but her boyfriend, Todd, eating with her best friend, Cindy. That would be okay, if she hadn’t left him at their apartment that morning, plied with Hay fever medication to combat the treacherous pollen that decided to wreak havoc on his delicate system. It was so bad, Todd called in sick.

When Todd and Cindy lean in for a kiss, Alexa interjects, “What the hell is going on here?” 

And for a second, Todd and Cindy look very guilty. But slowly, Todd cracks a smile. The smile sets off Cindy’s giggles.

Surprise! It’s a cheating prank.


Alexa is hella pissed at the Todd (after finding out it’s a prank). She resents him for thinking infidelity is a laughing matter, and punches him in the face.

The look on Todd’s face? Priceless.

At least she hadn’t grabbed his steak knife.

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June 2018 Anticipated Upcoming Releases

I am so excited that it is June. It’s my birthday month, so that already puts me in a good mood. If you live in the northern hemisphere, then it’s summer vacay time! And, well, there are so many good books coming out this month.

I used to be lucky that the latest Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book came out in June,  but ever since Damien’s story got pushed back…yeah, no more Bday Laurell K. Hamilton release for me.

Unfortunately, I can’t read all the books that are coming out in June, but here are a few that I know will be one-click additions to my 2018 TBR.

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The Psychology of Hurt/Comfort Romances

When most people think about romance novels they focus on stories that work toward a HEA or even HFN ending. But recently, Hurt/Comfort (H/C) stories are becoming more and more popular, where the journey to that HEA is painful, torturous, and downright gut-wrenching. These are the epic love stories that make you hurt so bad that you keep on reading in the hopes that the characters will find that HEA, because, Damn it! They deserve it. But what makes this antithesis journey to romance so desirable?

Defining Hurt/Comfort

Hurt/Comfort stories are defined as stories that have one character who has physical/emotional/psychological trauma and another character who heals/nurtures/comforts them through it.

H/C stories go beyond your average alpha male/spunky female couples (or whatever tickles your fancy), in that in there is an intensity and an openness with which the hurt protagonist’s pain and struggle through that pain is explored. It gives the reader an all-access pass in to the character’s world of pain, and their struggle to overcome or deal with that pain.

They showcase how pain is seldom experienced alone. That the ones around us, the ones who care, have a deep-seated desire to comfort and nurture us through the pain. How the nurturing protagonist learns about themselves in comforting the hurt protagonist.

H/C stories are about the reciprocal nature of hurt and comfort, neglect and nurture, and weakness and strength.

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Pacing Yourself

One of the most common critiques authors get from a beta read or content edit of their manuscript is to watch their pacing. Pacing will make or break your book, because it’s what helps keep the reader engaged. If your pacing is off, then you’ll lose your reader as they’ll cease to care what is happening, even if your character is perfectly crafted. Therefore, pacing is one of the things an editor will look at to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Defining Pacing

First let’s look at what an editor means when they say the pacing of your book is off.

Pacing is defined as the speed at which a story’s plot moves forward. Now, the pace of your book doesn’t, and probably shouldn’t, stay the same over the course of the book. You want action scenes that read fast and get your blood pumping, but you also want moments where your character has down time to chill with their friends, or reflect on past events. What matters is consistency. A consistently paced book that has well planned plot points ensures that there isn’t too much action or to little in large chunks that make the readers lose interest. Consistent pacing is a God send because it keeps the reader engaged, builds the suspense, and makes for a smoother read.

The standards for what is considered to be a “good” pace are very much determined by the genre of your book. If you are writing an action-driven thriller, mystery, or urban fantasy novel, then you must have a quicker pace than if you were writing a more emotionally driven romance or spiritual journey book.

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Editor’s Rant: Write Every Day or Quit Now

Or, Some Nutjob’s Opinions on What it Takes to be an Author

A few days ago—ahem, May 26th at 12:01 AM ET—a highly unpleasant individual named Stephen Hunter blogged about what they think it takes to be an author. This was very concerning, because the aforementioned person is indeed a published author of more than 20 novels, if his bio (and google) are to be believed. Heck, this man even has a Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism. He has writing credits many authors dream of.

But in his post, ever so subtly titled If You Want to Write a Book, Write Every Day or Quit Now, he gives a holier-than-thou sermon about becoming a writing automaton, where efficiency is the main pursuit and is defined by the obscene number of words you can crank out daily.

Now, I’ll pause for a second, and let you go have a read of the Becoming an Automaton Writer Bot for Dummies manual in-progress.


Good, now we can get to the point of this post, which is about the lessons you could take away from this oh, so stellar “advice” from a jaded man with no life (he dumped his only lover for his craft, remember?) or what you really should learn from articles like this that want to simplify a creative process into a basic mathematical equation.

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Fanfiction Review: You Can Do This by osointricate

McDannoYou Can Do This

Author:  osointricate

Genre: McDanno M/M romance & family

Warnings: Typical Hawaii Five-0 violence, serious Rachel bashing, and past child abuse

Rating: MA

Length:  111,845 words (novel)


“What’s it about? Steve and Danny start dating each other, then they start a family, and then they freak out because they realize they are dating each other.” -Kono Kalakaua, age 31

“Uncle Steve and Danno are idiots, they are such idiots, they drive me crazy because what the [“Grace Danielle! Watch your language!”] took them so long?” -Grace Williams, age 13

“‘Mander and Danno are the best except Daddy is pretty cool too. (“Can they all tie for best?” “Yeah, sure.”) They all tie for best.” -Charlie Edwards, age 4

“The motorcycle stuff is my favorite part. The rest is just an exercise in frustration because they should have been dating years ago.” -Chin Ho Kelly, age redacted

“Turns out I get a happy ending, imagine that.” -Nahele Huikala, age 15

Featuring: Giant sharks, family bonding, a bazooka, frustration, idiot fathers, purple casts, mothers that just don’t understand, New Years confetti, and Grace facepalming way more often than she would like it. Rated T for “Throw them in a closet until they make out.” “Grace, no.”

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Book Review: On His Watch by Katie Ruggle

On His WatchOn His Watch (Search and Rescue 0.5)

Author: Katie Ruggle

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Warning: Children in potentially life-threatening situations

Rating: PG13

Length: 84 Kindle pages


In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…

Ice rescue diver Derek Warner never meant to be a hero. But when two little girls go missing, he’s the first in line to bring them home—even if that means scouring the wilderness with the woman he once loved and lost, Artemis Rey.

Artemis has never stopped wanting Derek. Now, racing to find the girls before it’s too late, minutes turn to hours. Night falls. Old flames rekindle. And a danger grows in the darkest wilderness that may be more than even the Search and Rescue brotherhood can hope to face…

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Editorial Discussion: Managing FAQs From Your Clients

Editorial Discussion

Now this might seem like an no-brainer topic, but let me just say, sometimes telling an author something is not enough. You don’t how many times I’ve given explicit instructions on how to get to the project information form on my website, but I still get e-mails from authors telling me that can’t find the link–despite the fact that there is a direct link on my Pricing & Payment page, and I often include the link in the body of the e-mail I send authors.

The thing is most people either skim e-mails, or don’t really try to remember all the details, because they can always just send you an e-mail and ask, right? So, I think it is important for any business-minded individual to know two ways of fielding questions before they even get asked, and having a quick and easy way to respond your clients’ queries.

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