My question involves proper punctuation in the flow of action. For example, in one place in my current novel this bit of dialog occurs:
“What on earth is that?” Miner asked, “and how do we...?” his question was cut short by an unexpected attack.
So the question involves the usage of the question mark in the midst of a piece of dialog that is broken up by attribution. If it were a statement instead of a question, we would use a comma, but is the question mark appropriate in such a situation?
Then there is the second part of the character's sentence, "and how do we...?". If he was interrupted and didn't complete his sentence, the elipses (sp?) are appropriate, but what about the question mark at the end--after all he was asking a question when he was interrupted.
I guess what I'm getting down to, is how would you punctuate that bit of dialog appropriately?
quote:What on earth is that?” Miner asked, “and how do we...?” his question was cut short by an unexpected attack.
The first question mark is correct IF that is intended to be a complete stop. In other words, if you didn't put the dialog tag there, you would have written:
"What on earth is that? And how do we . . ."
If you would have written:
"What on earht his that and how do we . . ."
Then use commas.
The second question mark is out on two counts. You wouldn't end elipses with a question mark. And if he's truly been interrupted, not just trailed off without finishing, you use a double dash, --, not elipses.
You'll have to forgive me, but Jennifer stating she edits newspapers brought a smile to my lips. Jen, I know several newspapers in my area that could use a good edit. Some of the worst grammer and punctuation mistakes I've ever seen have been in newspapers .
[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited October 09, 2010).]
Crystal, you're probably seeing newspapers that have gotten rid of most of their copy desks. Management in many places has decided that in order to cut costs, copy editors should be among the first staffers to go. Why? Because when we do our jobs right, we're invisible, which results in the impression that we're not needed. So staff cuts are made, the copy editors who are left have time for only a cursory edit on most stories and mistakes slip through.
"Thanks to all of you," Smaug said. "You've helped me--". The dragon's show of gratitude was cut short because a small halfling had entered the grotto.
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