Did you know there are certain rules regarding the ways you can write speech as to whether you are American or British? I know, I was shocked too! It turns out I’ve been writing the speech of my characters’ lines in my stories wrong for years because I’ve been writing in the American way! To be honest, I much prefer the American way. Maybe because I read a lot of American books, or just because it comes a lot more naturally to me.
Basically, if you are British (like me) and want to write dialogue you must use inverted single commas like this:
‘To write is to capture something beautiful’
as this is the proper way!
However if you are writing in American English then you must use the double quotation marks like this:
“To write is to capture something beautiful”
I mean, how crazy is that? I always thought it was a matter of preference. But when it came up casually in conversation at a fiction workshop I was in it made me stop and think. Had I really been writing incorrectly all this time? The answer was yes after I researched it. (Always to Google!)
I’m sure it’s never that important anyway. I have had things published with American speech marks in it for dialogue when I am technically supposed to be writing in British English. It’s not like you’re going to get dismissed from a writing competition or, even worse, a novel manuscript you’ve submitted to a publishing house, because you’ve included the wrong speech marks in your work. If you can’t make up your mind and use both frequently all over the place then that might lead to something different! But ultimately, it is up to you whatever you choose to do.
Since I am technical in all my writing and like to correct anybody’s grammar given the opportunity, I will be writing in the formally correct way constantly now and try to keep it up as long as I can. If you are like me, and like everything to be perfect in your writing, from the style down the spelling, you too will probably reflect and check your errors! This is exactly what I did.
Unfortunately, I hate editing my own fiction writing so it took me a mighty long time to correct everything! I hope, if you didn’t already know this little scrap of knowledge, I have enlightened your day.
Good luck with your writing!