There are specific ways to punctuate your dialogue. Learning to do this correctly will make you look more professional and accomplished as a writer to potential publishers and agents.
- Speech followed by a dialogue tag: “Come on,” she said. Use a comma after the speech, treat the dialogue tag as being part of the same sentence.
- One sentence of speech split by a dialogue tag: “Come on,” she said, “or you’re going to make us late.” Only punctuate with a full stop right at the very end of the whole sentence. Start the second part of speech with a lower case letter.
- Two sentences of speech split by a dialogue tag: “Come on,” she said. “We can’t afford to be late again.” End the tag with a full stop and start the new sentence of speech with a capital letter.
- Speech separated by action: “Come on.” She pulled on her shoes and opened the door. “We can’t afford to be late again.” The action can’t be rolled into the same sentence as the speech, so it becomes three separate sentences.
And remember that all punctuation marks attached to the speech itself should be placed inside of the speech tags.