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Comma Splices in Dialogue

awnlee jawking

I've noticed quite a few authors writing something along the following lines:

"Dialogue-piece-1," said speaker, "dialogue-piece-2."

and if the dialogue tag is removed and the two pieces of dialogue joined by a comma, it doesn't make sense because dialogue-piece-2 belongs in a separate sentence.

I think the correct way to write such dialogue is:

"Dialogue-piece-1," said speaker. "Dialogue-piece-2."

Do any of you editorial colleagues report comma splice dialogue to authors, or am I making a mountain out of a AA-cup?

AJ

Replies:   Keet  Switch Blayde
Keet

@awnlee jawking

Personally I still find it strange to see the comma just before the double quote. In my language a structure like that is never used as far as I know. It would be like:
"Dialogue-piece-1" said speaker, "dialogue-piece-2."

Ernest Bywater

Two things at play here. The first is the usual rules of dialogue, and the second is the rules of dialogue tags.

With tags you usually put a comma between the tag and the dialogue, regardless of if it's before or after the tag. So when you have the tag in the middle you place a comma before and after it. Thus you get:

Fred replied, "Let's go, Tom, as I'm in a hurry to get there."

"Let's go, Tom, as I'm in a hurry to get there," was Fred's reply.

"Let's go, Tom," replied Fred, "as I'm in a hurry to get there."

The above could be turned into 2 short sentences by dropping the as and making the mid-sentence comma a full stop to have:

Fred replied, "Let's go, Tom. I'm in a hurry to get there."

"Let's go, Tom. I'm in a hurry to get there," was Fred's reply.

"Let's go, Tom," replied Fred, "I'm in a hurry to get there."

Based on the usual rules, if you move the dialogue tag from the middle to the ends, or decide you don't need it, then the dialogue's internal punctuation drops back to what is normal for the straight sentence.

Normally the full stop after Tom would be comma due to the replied Fred being part of that sentence as well.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

It depends on what piece-1 and piece-2 are.

"Wait," Joe said, "leave it right there!"

The dialogue is:
"Wait, leave it right there!"

It's done that way when it's important to let the reader know who's speaking without making them wait for the end. That's perfectly legit.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I don't want to provide actual examples from stories because I don't like fat-shaming fellow authors. However I've concocted one from a web page about comma splices.

"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia, "the whole family loves it."

Joining up the dialogue:
"My mom makes a smashing apple pie, the whole family loves it."

The two clauses are independent and require something stronger than a comma. Since a semi-colon isn't acceptable in dialogue, it has to be a period ie:
"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia. "The whole family loves it."

NB In this example, a co-ordinating conjunction would also work eg:
"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia, "and the whole family loves it."

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia, "the whole family loves it."


That's wrong because they're two sentences. There needs to be a period after Petunia.

"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia. "The whole family loves it."

richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

a smashing apple pie

She makes the pie by smashing apples? Could she use the same equipment to make smashed potatoes?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@richardshagrin

She makes the pie by smashing apples?

Nope. That would be a smashed-apple pie.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


@richardshagrin

She makes the pie by smashing apples?



Nope. That would be a smashed-apple pie.


A pie capable of smashing apples doesn't sound particularly appetizing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia, "the whole family loves it."

To answer your question in the OP, yes, I consider that is the same as a comma splice and would suggest a change to:
"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia. "The whole family loves it."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

That's wrong because they're two sentences. There needs to be a period after Petunia.

And that's the very definition of a 'comma splice'.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

A pie capable of smashing apples doesn't sound particularly appetizing.

A sledge-hammer pie? Or even worse, an atom-smashing pie?

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

To answer your question in the OP, yes, I consider that is the same as a comma splice and would suggest a change to:
"My mom makes a smashing apple pie," said Petunia. "The whole family loves it."

You're correct, and yes, you and your fellow editors should correct them when they see them. I certainly expect mine to flag such flagrant errors.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

RESPECT!

You actually answered my question, albeit from an author's point of view.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

Fred replied, "Let's go, Tom. I'm in a hurry to get there."

"Let's go, Tom. I'm in a hurry to get there," was Fred's reply.

"Let's go, Tom," replied Fred, "I'm in a hurry to get there."

Did you mean to use a full stop rather than a comma after 'Fred' in your third example, with the dialogue tag in the middle?

Your comments suggest to me you did, and it was the precise question asked in the OP: should there be a comma or a full stop there in that type of sentence?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Did you mean to use a full stop rather than a comma after 'Fred' in your third example, with the dialogue tag in the middle?


no, but either option would work there.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

RESPECT!

You actually answered my question, albeit from an author's point of view.

Hey, even a broken clock is correct at least twice a day. You were due. 'D

But seriously, I don't object when people make valid points. I just get frustrated when we argue the same point endless when neither side will admit their own faults (myself included, since I don't simply admit my own failure and walk away).

If more of us did that, we'd have a much friendly and social community, rather than a few angry blowhards yelling at everyone. Now, let me climb down from yet another of my many soapboxes and go wash my mouth out with soap, once again.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Did you mean to use a full stop rather than a comma after 'Fred' in your third example, with the dialogue tag in the middle?

no, but either option would work there.

No. As previously observed, combining the two sentence fragments produces a compound sentence. If you did chose to follow that path—which I'd never recommend—you'd need a semicolon, at the very least. Better yet, at that point I'd simply throw the whole passage in the trash and start again.

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