Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I must say the blogging experience has been most enlightening; there was a question raised in our group Sweet Hearts of the Rodeo concerning dialogue tags in a taleteller’s story. To clarify the event the story was told to the protagonist in his youth and he was reflecting back on the tale, as he walked through a cemetery remembering the story, and the concern was the use of dialogue tags (quotes), whether they should be used or not at the beginning of each sentence, as the story was conveyed through memory.

Finding the correct use has engulfed me and finally I posed a question to a blog to get an answer and I received one…

The Blog is called Writing On The Wall Blog : Send your editing question to: editor at precision editing group dot comand we'll blog about it!

Heather Moore one of their editors graciously responded with an answer:

Thanks for your question.

The general concensus among the editors is that you are fine not to use the dialogue quotes if the taleteller is paraphrasing dialogue.

So the question becomes if there is dialogue in there that isn't paraphrased. This may become a publishing house decision. I've seen it done both ways. Just be aware that when you find a publishing home, you may be asked to use quotation marks.

Not using quotation marks with dialogue is considered more "literary" than the norm. The book "No Country For Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy comes to mind. It's a full novelization. Zero quotation marks. It does throw the reader off at first, but it's a style that has became a bit of a trend in some circles.

If you are interested in a more concrete answer for your specific work-in-progress, I'd be happy to look at a sample page.

I've seen enough writing rules broken that have actually become successful, so I'd hate to deter your style. The trick is knowing the rules well enough so that you know when it's time to modify them.

Heather Moore
Managing Editor, PEG, LLC

Heather Moore’s Blog:

In my quest, I came across another blog that I follow concerning dialogue and I wanted to share with those aspiring authors studying the craft of fiction.

Kim's Craft Blog--Fiction, Memoir, Creative Writing: The Many Uses of Summarized Dialogue.

Kim's Craft Blog--Fiction, Memoir, Creative Writing: The Many Uses of Summarized Dialogue

Happy Writing!

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