Punctuation question

DaveK's picture

I have the following paragraph in my "Degrees of Freedom" story. Is it formated correctly?

"I had to tell one student that anything on 3D was not a classic. So he based his story on an old 2D TV show. He made this starship captain gay so he chased the men instead of the women. Another made Moby Dick a horse. '...whoever of ye raises me that same white horse, he shall have that gold ounce, my boys.'" Reg downed his drink and called for another round.

The question is, at the end of the dialog, is it correct as above or should it be ...my boys'."

Is there a good book on punctuating dialog? Does anyone want to write a guide for this forum? I have a few stories with unusual dialog constructions that I would be happy to donate as examples.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
camidon's picture

Strange Quotes

This is a little weird, with the ' and " at the end of the line. I avoid confusing punctuation because it just looks funny, and the last thing you want in a story is someone noticing odd punctuation and to be drawn out of the story.

What I would do is this: Change the "whoever of ye raises..." into Italics. Then you avoid the triple quotation mark situation. Italics are much less invasive than triple quotes.

As to should the single quote go before the period. I would say no, as grammatically, I was taught to put periods inside quotes.
(That doesn't me I have to like that though, cuz I don't.)

----

Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.

Re:Punctuation question

The single quote should go inside the period, because you aren't quoting a complete sentence. When you quote fragments they go inside punctuation, e.g.:

When Hamlet said "two bee or not two bee", he was really deciding whether to buy the grave plot next to Yorick in "two see".

So for yours, you could lose the ellipsis to make it more clear:

"I had to tell one student that anything on 3D was not a classic. So he based his story on an old 2D TV show. He made this starship captain gay so he chased the men instead of the women. Another made Moby Dick a horse, as in 'whoever of ye raises me that same white horse, he shall have that gold ounce, my boys'." Reg downed his drink and called for another round.

This is a tricky one. It is always going to look odd. You could rephrase to put more dialogue from Reg behind the single quote, or use Chris' suggestion.

If you do quote a complete sentence, the single quote should go after the period, methinks. It's clear enough if you put enough dialogue around it, e.g.:

Dick said, "Someone told me, 'If you do quote a complete sentence, it would have its own punctuation.' I don't know about that, though."

If you end up with quotes after quotes, it is going to look ugly whatever you do. I would rephrase in that case.

I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

DaveK's picture

Re:Punctuation question

Thanks guys. I'm not sure what I'll do but i will use one of those ideas. Then the editor might change it. If it ever gets published we'll all see what won out.