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 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 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: 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.