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Questions regarding em dashes used to insert action within dialogue.

 
 
Mon 26 Dec, 2016 07:05 pm
Hi all. I have a couple of questions about em dashes I'm hoping to clear up for a book I'm writing. Here's an example:

"Let's go here first,"—he pointed to a spot on the map—"and see what's there."

Question 1 - Is the comma after 'first' necessary? Is it always necessary (even in a shorter beat such as "Let's go here,"—he pointed at the map—"first."?)

Question 2 - Should 'he' be capitalized? More specifically, should the first word after the dash always be capitalized as though it's an entirely new sentence?

Thanks in advance for your help, and happy holidays!
 
contrex
 
  3  
Tue 27 Dec, 2016 11:25 am
The first comma is required. It is punctuating the direct speech and would be present if the em dashes and what they enclose were not there. You should not start the word after the first dash with a capital letter unless one is required by the normal rules of capitalisation.
0 Replies
 
DaveinJapan
 
  1  
Wed 28 Dec, 2016 01:58 am
Thanks very much!
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  2  
Wed 28 Dec, 2016 08:10 am
@DaveinJapan,
DaveinJapan wrote:

"Let's go here first,"—he pointed to a spot on the map—"and see what's there."


Hiya Dave!

Here's how I would rewrite the sentence.

jes wrote:
"Let's go here first," he pointed to a spot on the map, "and see what's there."


The commas are dialogue tags and you definitely need them. But the action in the middle can take the place of the em dashes as you are already having the reader experience a pause for the action.
0 Replies
 
DaveinJapan
 
  3  
Thu 29 Dec, 2016 08:00 pm
Thank you Jespah. That's a good alternative.
0 Replies
 
 

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