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I am new to this forum and writing and I am trying to decide on my preferred writing style. I am currently working on dialogue and looking for ideas and suggestions for grammatically correct and 'good looking' dialogue.

I have read many books, and like many authors, I think I will tend to adopt a combination of UK and American style for dialogue grammar. Namely:

Dialogue will be enclosed with single quotes and quotes within dialogue will be inside double quotes. Punctuation will be within the quote marks rather than after, for example :

‘That is the biggest horse I have ever seen,’ said Craig.

and

‘He called me an “arrogant fool” when I said I’d seen bigger horses,’ said John.

Now I am struggling with the following where the quote appears at the end of the dialogue, my best attempt so far would be :

‘He told me that "there are 1,000 different reasons to write", ‘ said John.

How does the above line read, is it acceptable, could it be better?

My other attempts were :

He told me, "There are 1,000 different reasons to write." ‘ said John.

and

He told me "there are 1,000 different reasons to write.", ‘ said John.

I would appreciate any feedback or ideas, since whilst there are grammatical rules there is obviously some flexibility in the way they are implemented

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    My grade school (American) English teacher insisted we always use double quotes, and use single quotes only if they are inside double quotes…. Admittedly I now do whatever I want (double quotes for spoken dialog, single quotes for just about everything else). There are definitely rules to this, unfortunately the experts don't all agree.
    – wetcircuit
    Nov 16, 2021 at 14:05
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    Not to be rude or nitpicking, but I notice in your first quote, it says ‘He told me that “there are 1,000 different reasons to write”, ‘ …but I would like to point out that, seeing as this is technically an indirect quote, the double quotes are unnecessary.
    – Bill
    Nov 18, 2021 at 4:03
  • @Bill - No problem with nitpicking, best way to remove nits! :-) That is a very good point, thank you. My main problem was understanding the correct way of 'nesting' quotes, but I accept I did not choose a good example.
    – kerry
    Nov 18, 2021 at 8:34
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    @wetcircuit - as I said in my post, I am trying to develop my writing style and I think, after consideration, your suggestion actually suits me better. Thank you.
    – kerry
    Nov 18, 2021 at 8:40

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I am trying to decide on my preferred writing style ...

You won't learn your preferred writing style by reading answers and comments on this site or any other site, or from any instruction manual, you'll learn it by writing and reading, reading both your own words and those of others.

As for how to punctuate dialogue, don't give it another moment's thought until you are preparing a finished work for publication.

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  • I appreciate your comments - thank you. But I would prefer to develop my style within accepted guidelines. My main question was regarding the dialogue sentence I provided. I would prefer to start as I mean to go on, albeit adapting as I progress. I don't really want to finish a complete work and then look at punctuation. I would rather learn as I progress than leave the learning until I have finished creating. I hope you understand.
    – kerry
    Nov 16, 2021 at 13:34

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