Ask the Book Doctor: Punctuation

Q: What is the correct punctuation for the following?

“You makin’ fun of my name, or you be callin’ me a buzzard?” Linus asked.
Kendra’s infuriating “Whatever” was followed by “If the buzzard-shoe
fits, lace it up.”

A: The punctuation is fine as is, as long as the sentence beginning “Kendra’s” starts a new paragraph, which didn’t seem to be the case in the e-mail, but that’s a format issue and not a punctuation issue.

Also not a punctuation issue is my concern about the use of dialect (makin’, callin’) which is not recommended, for quite a few reasons. Rarely can an author maintain the dialect throughout, and when one does, dialectical dialogue grows tedious for readers. Dialect is not only difficult to write but also difficult to read, and many publishers shun it. Instead of dropping letters to show dialect, rely on word choice to show the speaking style of characters, as was skillfully done in the last piece of dialogue, “If the buzzard-shoe fits, lace it up.”

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Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at

One thought on “Ask the Book Doctor: Punctuation

  1. After working without stopping for five days, he finished the rough draft of his book, he read it over, and at that point reached the peak of his stress.

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