Friday, January 15, 2010

Direct Address - Comma Use.

Today's writing tool is about comma use in dialogue with direct address. I see a lot of writers make a mistake by forgetting to insert a common in these instances, and thereby leaving the sentence meaning unclear. Hopefully this will help:

The rule is simple: when one character addresses another character directly in dialogue, their name is separate by a comma.

"Sharon, what's going on?"
"What's going on, Sharon?"
"John, Sharon wants to know what's going on."
"Sharon wants to know what's going on, John."
"How are you, Barbara?"
"Barbara, how are you?"
"Barbara, give Jane our best."
"Dear Kathy, how's it going?"

"Sharon wants help."
"John wants to know what's going on."
"How is Barb doing?"
"Dear Kathy is a darling girl."

While I'm under the weather with this annoying flu, I hope everybody's safe and warm. Our prayers to those fighting to survive in Haiti and for those who need the strength to keep searching. God Bless.


  1. Dialogue is a wonderful thing. I've heard lots of stories about people bein' in a coma for weeks, months, even years - but their loved ones stuck by them & kept talkin' to 'em & they finally came out of it good as new & .... oh wait, you're talkin' about commas.... my bad. I hate commas so I'm skippin' this post in protest.

  2. Sorry to hear you're not feeling well, Joylene. Hope you shake that flu soon. Your guide on commas is timely (despite what Dave thinks--he always makes me laugh) as I've noticed several comments in the blogging realm bemoaning their use. The trend seems to be getting away from their general use but they're still essential in dialogue. Your post clarifies that very well.

  3. Get well soon, Joylene.

    Note the comma. *smile*

  4. Thanks, Dave, Carol and Keith, for stopping by and for commenting. I'm going back to bed. Later.

  5. Joylene,

    Hope you feel better soon.


Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come in and sit for while. We will talk about writing. We will share our dreams. Then I will serve tea and cookies. Home made and Gluten Free.