How to Punctuate Dialogue

Diane Callahan
27 min readMay 25, 2022
“How to Punctuate Dialogue” on a black background with a pen

As a fiction editor, I’m often asked about the most common writing mistakes I see. It seems trivial, but incorrectly punctuated dialogue can make readers abandon an otherwise good book.

Luckily, you can master this skill with practice and patience. Here, I’ll cover the difference between dialogue tags and action beats, where to shove your commas, what types of verbs to use, and the various kinds of punctuation that…