Monday, July 11, 2011

CAPS, "quotes" (and parentheses too)

Happy Monday everyone! Don't forget - writing prompt entries are due today so make sure you get those into me. If you've already turned in your entry but haven't heard back from me, I was out of town Thursday - Saturday, and I make a habit of staying off my computer on Sunday. So, if you haven't received a confirmation email from me by this afternoon, please check to make sure I received it. Not sure what the writing prompt contest is? You still have time to get entered - click here for details.

We're fortunate to have the lovely Roseanna White with us for one more day. Don't forget, commenting on any of her grammar posts gets you entered to win Jewel of Persia, so make sure you ask all those burning grammar questions.

Grammar Girl is back again, for one final post! We’ve already covered a few “always” rules and the dreaded comma. Today I’ll be hitting the other major problem areas.

Let’s begin with quotation marks. I’ve covered much of them in above sections, but they’re crucial to fiction, so we need to make sure we’ve got them right.

First, obviously, anything your characters say need to be in quotes. Check. As mentioned in the “always” section of the first post, each character’s words need their own paragraph. Yes, even when they only say two words. Check. How to punctuate within quotes has been addressed in the comma section, and in the “always” section. Check.

So, a few more details. Quotes within quotes—this is when you get into single vs. double quotation marks. In general, you alternate. For American standard, you start with double, then if your character is quoting, it’s in singles. If she’s quoting a Bible verse that’s quoting Jesus, doubles again. Just make sure you close each out in the proper order. ;-) In its most complicated form, it may look this:

Annabelle sniffed. “But I distinctly recall that passage in Matthew. Verse 4 says, ‘But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”’ Argue with that, Father.”

Did you count all those quotes? Yeah—a simple rule that can become complicated in execution. =)

Now, quickly, caps. We all know the general rules of capitalizing proper names, first words, etc. The only thing that usually gets tricky here is endearments and nicknames. So, GG’s rule. Endearment = no cap. Nickname = cap. Which means that you don’t capitalize darling or dear or honey or doctor or ma’am (unless, obviously, it’s the proper name, like Dr. Jones). You DO capitalize nicknames, so if Joe always calls Susan “Stretch” because she’s long-legged, you treat that like you would “Sue.” He’s using it exclusively as her name. Another good example of an endearment becoming a nickname is from Gone With the Wind. A young lady from a neighboring plantation is known by all as “Honey.” So if everyone far and wide is calling her “Honey Smith” (that’s not the character’s last name, I’m just in too much of a hurry to look it up), then it’s her name. It gets capitalized.

One final trickiness to dwell on. Parentheticals. I think the thing that confuses us most about these are punctuating them. So, a quick check. Is your parenthetical phrase within a sentence? Then your punctuation goes outside the closing parenthesis. Example: He was brilliant (as was established earlier).

Is your parenthetical all on its own? First, this is rare—but when it happens, the punctuation goes within the closing parenthesis. (Bad) Example: And so, there you have it. (Sources quoted are from Awesome Magazine.)

Overwhelmed? Wondering about something I missed? Need clarification on something I droned forever on about? Want help with a particular sentence? GG’s here to answer your questions. =)

1 comment:

  1. Once again, when I reverted systems, some comments were eaten. Here they are:

    Ellyn: I have a question - are you annoyed when there are parenthetical sentences in fiction books? Or are you fine with it?

    Susan Hollaway: Great post, Rosanna and Stephanie! I love your blog here, Stephanie.

    Roseanna: They have to be totally necessary and/or funny for me to cool with them in fiction--but also keep in mind that technically, those em-dashes I'm so fond of are a parenthetical. So while we may not use () all that often, we DO always have some sort of parenthetic in our way of talking. I used exactly one in my upcoming book, and it was because I was quoting Ben Franklin, who said, "One ought not take a wife until one has a house (and a fire) to put her in." LOL

    Rachelle: Thank you so much for this great post! What a wonderful resource!

    "4readin":I find commas the most dificult thing in all you have talked about. YOu have been very helpful! Thank you!

    Roseanna: Glad I could be helpful! =)