So, I’m not very good at writing. I genuinely hold this belief. Perhaps my stories are entertaining, but I never received a high grade in an English class my whole life. Perhaps I could be regarded as a decent storyteller, but I can’t edit for crap and my sentence structure is weird. As well, I have what academic English teachers would call a ‘bad habit,’ which is putting periods at the end of sentences in dialogue then continuing it with a ‘he said’ or something.
Example: “I can’t be bothered to deal with the likes of you.” he told me.
What it should be: “I can’t be bothered to deal with the likes of you,” he told me.
The idea is that what you read is one full sentence, so a comma is needed instead of a period to link the stuff in quotation marks and the pronoun. I don’t know how many sick days I took when I was young and in school or if I was just really stupid or something, but I’m 90% sure I was never taught this growing up. An editor highlighted this to me last year after realizing I never included commas, and at that point I had a weird moment of, “Wait, that’s why a lot of authors do the comma thing?” Welcome to the level of writing unprofessionalism that is me, ladies and gents.
I like the look of periods in dialogue. It signifies that the sentence is over. Even if it isn’t as proper, periods close out what someone is saying. Ignore structure for a second, which of the following sentences looks more powerful?
“Go away.” she told me.
“Go away,” she told me.
I get why commas are used. Honestly, I’m at a bit of an impasse here. I don’t know whether I should adhere to the rules and realize I have a boatload more to edit in my past works, or keep things up with periods. On one hand, I like it more. Isn’t the point of literature to get feelings across? God knows a lot of authors have thrown formality out the window in the name of pathos. On the other hand, I can’t assume my editor is the only one to have noticed this, or felt that it made my dialogue awkward. this is where readers come in handy – I would genuinely love if you let me know your opinion on this. Whether you’ve noticed the lack of commas in my dialogue, whether it’s an issue, whether you prefer I keep making sentences the way I have or adapt to ‘correct punctuation’ and restructure how I write my sentences from here on in… If my audience clearly wants things one way or another, I would absolutely like to accommodate that desire. I’m nothing without my readers, and I write for you all at the end of the day. If there’s a preferred way I write, I would love to hear from you as to how that way should be. Obviously I won’t radically alter my style for one opinion but that’s all the more reason to voice your opinion to me. If your opinion lines up with the opinions of others and you all voice it, I can take that into account and write better, more impactful stories for you all. The community aspect of this is important, which is why I so often highlight the option to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write here in the comments. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but even if I disagree with comments, I always keep them in mind, and I’m always striving to improve my writing for you. I’ll talk to you all next week.