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I have a question regarding the sentence below.

Before the guards can move to block your path, you hear "Let him speak."

Is this direct speech? And do I need a comma after hear? The word hear confuses me a bit because it is not a standard dialogue tag like "she said" or "he asked." Help?

PS. Should I have italicized "she said" and "he said" instead of putting quotation marks around them? I know I am supposed to italicize words that are referred to as words. What about phrases?

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Is this direct speech?

Yes.

Do I need a comma after hear?

You might as well leave that for your publisher to figure out, since she'll do it her way no matter how you write it.

Should I have italicized "she said" and "he said" ... ?

That's a convention a lot of us around here follow. But not all of us—and unlike your publisher we regard you as a grown-up and let you do it your way.

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  • What if I am the publisher? (theoretically) What should I do? What reference or guide should I use here? – Siegfried Zaytsev Aug 19 '15 at 0:42
  • @SiegfriedZaytsev Do what makes sense to you. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 19 '15 at 2:16
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If you want a stream of consciousness effect in certain sections, it can be a nice effect to use the italics-no-comma approach. Otherwise, I recommend keeping things simple and using the normal dialogue approach (comma, quotation marks, normal font).

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