You’ve heard of writing prompts, now we have revision prompts! Each prompt will give you a specific writing issue to check for in your WIP, along with tips on how to fix each. Going through this process one issue at a time will not only help polish your current novel but will also teach you specific ways to improve your writing for your next story.
SEARCH FOR A QUOTATION MARK: Check to make sure you are following these rules for the placement of punctuation surrounding all quotations:
DIALOGUE PUNCTUATION: There are three places you need to check the placement of punctuation in dialogue:
1) At the end of the quote:
“And the walls came tumbling down,” sang Joshua at the top of his lungs. (The period becomes a comma and is placed inside the quotation. If it is a question or exclamation point, it does not turn into a comma.)
2) At the beginning of the quote, if that’s where a dialogue tag is:
Joshua sang at the top of his lungs, “And the walls came tumbling down.” (The comma comes before the quote mark and is not inside the quotation. The period at the end of the sentence is inside the quotation. The same for an exclamation point or question mark.)
3) In the middle of a quotation, if that’s where the dialogue tag is:
“And the walls,” sang Joshua at the top of his lungs, “came tumbling down.” (applies the rules for both #1 and #2)
NOTE: The key to knowing how to punctuate a quote is to remember that the punctuation goes with the phrase it follows. So in #3 above, the first goes with “And the walls,”therefore, it is inside the quote mark. The second punctuation goes with “sang Joshua at the top of his lungs.” Since that is not a part of the quote, the comma does not go inside the quote mark. The last punctuation goes with “came tumbling down,” so it needs to go inside the quote mark.
One of the keys to publication is a willingness to learn. We hope our Revising Prompts will help you learn more about the craft of writing and speed you on your way to publication.