advice

Tips from the Editor

Out, Damned Spot!
Handling the He Said, She Said

“I’m ready to go now.” She said.
“Are you ready yet?” He asked.
“Let’s go!” He shouted.

This is a tricky situation for a lot of newbies. Which one gets a comma? Which one gets a period? Are “he” and “she” capitalized?

Think of it this way. She said isn’t a complete sentence. It needs to be connected to something, using a comma at the end of the dialogue and a lower-case he or she.

“I’m ready to go now,” she said.

Even if the bit of dialogue that comes before ends in a question mark or an exclamation point, He said isn’t a complete sentence. That’s still true if he’s shouting or asking or replying or whispering.

“Are you ready yet?” he asked.
“Let’s go!” he shouted.

What about the bit that comes before the dialogue?

Liz crossed the room, “I’m ready to go now.”  Yes or no?

What Liz is doing is a complete sentence, independent of the line of dialogue, so here, a period is correct.

Liz crossed the room. “I’m ready to go now.”

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