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 04:06 pm (UTC)
onyxlynx: Blue bkgrd, large red 7th, words "decade of fabulous." (As in "I'm in my 7th decade of fabulousn)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
Those are, in fact, the rules. Good job, getting that by osmosis/example.

What was the instructor objecting to? Send that instructor to me.

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.

Date: 21 Sep 2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
law_nerd: Our 1/2 Lab puppy stares intently off into space. (Default)
From: [personal profile] law_nerd
Agreeing with [personal profile] the_rck, and others. I just find it easier to understand with a bit more context. The rule is the same whether dealing with dialogue or other quotations, so a small expansion/explanation from one of my favourite how-to books, the Chicago Manual of Style (13th ed):
When a quotation is used as a syntactical part of a sentence, it begins with a lowercase letter, even though the original is a complete sentence beginning with a capital.
Benjamin Franklin admonishes us to "plough deep while sluggards sleep."
But when the quotation is not syntactically dependent on the rest of the sentence, the initial letter is capitalized. ...
As Franklin advised: "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."

Date: 21 Sep 2014 06:10 pm (UTC)
law_nerd: Our 1/2 Lab puppy stares intently off into space. (Default)
From: [personal profile] law_nerd
I don't have it at hand, mostly because I despise it quite passionately, but I'd not be surprised to find that the APA Style asks for that kind of exactitude. It's one of the joys of being a professional editor. New jobs with new publishers can mean learning a whole new way of doing things.

It would be lovely if publishers of fiction could get together and agree on a style guide... even if it were different ones for different countries it would make life easier for authors (and beta readers) working to make copy ready for submission. Doubt it'll ever happen, though. Given that academics can't seem to agree on a single style, or, for that matter agree to keep a style the same. (I call the current Canadian legal style guide the menopausal version. They've gone from recommending authors be cited as P. Smith, to P Smith, and from listing cases as "Able v. Baker" to "Able v Baker" -- I miss the periods.)

Date: 21 Sep 2014 07:52 pm (UTC)
law_nerd: Our 1/2 Lab puppy stares intently off into space. (Default)
From: [personal profile] law_nerd
Interesting that one would use different styles for different levels of court.

In all the Canadian style guides I've seen, the abbreviation for versus is the same whether it's the Supreme Court or Small Claims Court ... and whether the case cited is from Canada or from somewhere else. The trend has been to simpify citations -- in theory to make it easier for individuals who are self-representing to find caselaw and to cite it correctly. When I went to law school in the late 90's we were told that the style had just gone from vs. to v., and in a citation where the parties' names were in italic, the v. was to be plain. Next step was to make everything italic, and then most recently to drop the period.

And, yes, writing and editing nerd wars are as bloody as any other kind. Perhaps even more so, as we've been arguing over things like the Oxford comma for a lot longer than anyone's argued Mac/PC or Ninja/Pirate.

Date: 21 Sep 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
onyxlynx: The words "Onyx" and "Lynx" with x superimposed (Default)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
Oh, that. Yeah. That's true. Sorry. Wet noodle.

Date: 22 Sep 2014 01:47 am (UTC)
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
Hello is where the sentence begins for the person speaking; it's the first word of their sentence. Therefore, you would capitalize it.

Date: 22 Sep 2014 07:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rurounitriv.livejournal.com
She said, "Hello."

This is because, even though the part in quotes is not the beginning of the sentence, it is the first word in the sentence she's speaking.


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