So, if you’re writing a novel, the odds are pretty high that it contains dialogue. And sometimes, punctuation rules just do not mix well with dialogue. Some things seem to be commonly accepted as fine. Your character turns five sentences into one because they’re talking so fast, so you don’t use periods in between sentences until the character takes a breath. You probably also use more exclamation marks in dialogue than you do in the rest of the text. And maybe more ellipses, too.
But what about the more subtle things? I’m talking about statements like these: “No, thanks.” “Well, I don’t know.” “Yes, I will.” “I love you, Rover.” Those commas are grammatically correct, but what if that’s not how your character is saying it? What if they’re not pausing where that comma is? When I write dialogue, I think about this. And I leave out commas if I don’t think they fit. My beta readers don’t usually nitpick my punctuation, but occasionally I peruse the SYW section of Absolute Write, and I’ve seen things like this corrected by critiquers there.
Maybe this is something so small, no one else ever thinks about it, but I like the authenticity it brings to dialogue. Sometimes you aren’t saying “I love you, Rover.” Sometimes you are saying, “I love you Rover.” It just reads differently.
What do you guys think? Do you punctuate your dialogue differently, or the same as the rest of the narrative?
*Grammar is important, though. In my opinion, it’s in every writer’s best interest to pay attention to your grammar, just like you would to any other aspect of the craft.