Punctuating action between narratives

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“Oops,” Amanda said.  “I was only meaning to say it sounds like a good idea.”


“Oops,” Amanda said, “I was only meaning to say it sounds like a good idea.”
 

(There are probably a dozen alternatives to placing the speech tag (above), but I am just interesting in the correct punctuation—using a period or comma).


Here’s an example why, step by step:


“But if I took the car, I’d have to fill it with gas,” he said.


At the start of a sentence, ‘But’ is a dependant conjunction and requires a comma to form a complete sentence—all conjunctions do.  Now I’d like to add some action behind the speaker (say someone sneaking up behind him):


“But if I took the car,” she was sneaking up behind him, “I’d have to fill it with gas,” he said.


“But if I took the car,” she was sneaking up behind him. “I’d have to fill it with gas,” he said.


As you can see, I am having a bit of a rule dilemma using a period vs. a comma with the person sneaking up behind the speaker.  

asked Aug 03 '12 at 23:36 Todd McQuage Contributor

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