kaigou: Happy typing on mac. (1 Hyperbole and a half)
[personal profile] kaigou
This summer I attended a writing retreat, and the critique I got back from the instructor made a number of corrections in capitalization. I was kinda like, hunh? because no one else has ever noted an issue with the same, until nagasvoice's comment in another post.

(I don't recall ever being taught the rules of punctuation/grammer/capitalizing in school -- fiction-writing wasn't ever a major focus, as I recall -- so I've mostly gone by what I read in books, and using that style. I guess you could say osmosis and a bit of logical guesswork taught me things like that punctuation goes inside the quotes (at least in US-based publications), etc.)

Normally, I'd write a sentence with dialogue like this.

"Hello," they said.

The entire sentence is hello-they-said. First word is 'hello', so it's capitalized. Since 'they' is not the first word and not a proper-name, it's not capitalized. Thus, it made sense to me that when the order is rearranged, the capitalizing is also rearranged:

They said, "hello."

I'm pretty sure this is a pattern I've read plenty, 'cause I had to have gotten the impression from somewhere that this is alright. It's also why/how I learned that when you've got a tag in the middle, capitalizing is still applied as an overall:

"Yesterday," she said, "it was sunny."

First, 'yesterday' is the first word. Second, the actual sentence -- 'yesterday it was sunny' is an entire sentence and the tag 'she said' is just inserted. Similar to the way if I had [ed: hi there] in the middle, it inserts, not halts the sentence and forces a new one. It's like a paren.

In my mind, if I've got a sentence like the following:

"Yesterday it was sunny," she said. "We napped."

...then the "we" gets capitalized because it's a new sentence; if it hadn't been, then it'd be a comma after 'said', not a period, and there'd need to be some kind of a tag -- ie, 'and', 'but', etc -- before 'we' to indicate there was more to the first sentence.

I'm not sure whether this is a house-style thing or just something I've completely misread/ignored all these years.


Date: 21 Sep 2014 03:19 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
By the rules I've been taught, most of your examples are correct. The exception is 'They said, "hello."' That should be 'They said, "Hello."'

When a bit of dialog comes after a dialog tag, it's capitalized if it starts a sentence within the dialog even if it's preceded by a comma. Dialog is peculiar that way.

Date: 21 Sep 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
Your capitalization is correct. You don't capitalize when the second bit of dialog continues the sentence begun in the first part.

Basically, the only time you capitalize dialog after a tag with a comma is if it starts a new, in-dialog sentence.

Date: 21 Sep 2014 03:57 pm (UTC)
kathmandu: Close-up of pussywillow catkins. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathmandu
Confirming it's an actual capitalization rule. Sentences of speech are independent of the narrative sentences which frame them. So in

"Hello," they said.

the framing-sentence and the speech-sentence overlap beginnings; there is only one beginning-of-sentence capitalization for two sentences.

They said, "Hello."

Hello is the beginning of the speech, so it needs to be capitalized.

You have correctly picked up the rules for when framing is inserted in the middle of speech.

Date: 21 Sep 2014 04:13 pm (UTC)
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] branchandroot
What they said. Dialogue doesn't count as part of the narrative sentence that contains it, despite the fact that narrative fragments may be interjected or dangling off the beginning or end. At that point, you have commas standing in for terminal punctuation and making you think narrative and dialogue are the same sentence-unit. Which they kind of are, but only for punctuation purposes, not capitalization purposes!

Narrative + dialogue rules are their own barrel of cats.

Ruth put it most succinctly.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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