What’s the lie?


::pokes herself with a stick:: Well, that didn’t feel as good as she thought.

Sure, you may want to be a blind squirrel, but once in a while doesn’t cut it!

As an editor and proofreader, I often come to a sentence or paragraph and fail to understand it because it can read in different ways. Equally disturbing, is comprehending dialogue between and among characters in stories. Who’s talking to whom and what are they talking about?

Seriously, I don’t care how marvelous your writing skill, you need another set of eyes on your work. Ask your partner (if you trust their skills), a beta reader, a paid editor or proofreader, anyone with grit and determination who isn’t you, needs to look at your finished book and help you take it to the next level. Steven King says, “Just like in real life, most people are oblivious to their own faults.”

::rubs an eye during a pandemic::

Find someone you trust, even if you have to pay them, and make sure not only your grammar and spelling are boffo, your quotation marks are absolutely spot-on proper.  I wouldn’t lie to you when I say, “There are many ways to punctuate your dialogue.” Each option affects the speech pattern of your character as well as the flow of your narration, so make sure your choices are intentional. Words matter, and so does punctuation. Now that’s true!

By the way, I love dialogue in a story. Most people don’t because they haven’t taken the time to learn the variations properly. When I point out that use of quotation marks and commas are incorrectly applied, the writer sees that I am right, though she was incapable of discovering it herself. There’s nothing inherently wrong not knowing. That’s why professionals like me do the legwork for you.

I’ll give you an example that I see often in manuscripts. It’s called interrupted dialogue.

If you’re tuning into someone’s dialogue in the middle, you can absolutely open the dialogue with an em dash or an ellipsis, making sure not to capitalize the first word. For example:

Samantha found her sister Sonia standing by the door. “—why we’ll never go to Piggley Wiggley again,” she was saying.

(Or: “…why we’ll never go to Piggley Wiggley again,” she was saying.)

See that? Writers use a lot of interruption in dialogue. But this example only works if we’re catching a partial sentence, not a full sentence, in other words if there would have been a period (or question mark, or exclamation point) had we “heard” what came before. In such a case, the narration or tag can clue us in to having missed part of the dialogue:

“So that’s why we’ll never go to Piggley Wiggley again,” Sonia finished explaining.

Easy?  If you’re doing the eye-roll, know I’m here for you. Not a problem! And please, don’t be a blind squirrel or lie to yourself that you find these things on your own. Let’s get your dialogue up to snuff, get the manuscript looking boss and ready for publication! Send me a note about proofreading your manuscript here: https://proriskenterprises.com/contact-me/



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