Writing style or bad writing?

There's two literary rules that have been bothering me ever since I found out about them:

1. Periods inside quotes. In America, whenever a sentence ends with anything in quotation, the period must go "inside the quotes." I don't like this, since to me it looks like the period is part of the quote.

2. For dialogue, make a new paragraph every time the speaker changes. I know this is to make the dialogue less confusing, but there has to be a better way. If there's too much back and forth, it wastes a lot of space on the page.

If someone ignored one or both of these rules in a story you were reading, would it automatically be bad writing? Or could it be considered a "style choice" if it's still readable?

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  • I, as da nigga in question, would prefer it if each person's dialogue wass written in a different mothafuckin color.
    I'm sick of this black and white shit.

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  • 1 - This has always annoyed me so I prefer the non American way lol

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  • No idea, I’m illiterate.

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  • I Google "period mark before or after closing bracket" about four or five times every year.

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  • I've always hated the way that periods and commas are supposed to go inside the quotes, for the same reason, that it would seem like they are supposed to be part of the quote. This would logically make sense, surely anything contained inside the quotes are supposed to be part of the quote. Why should the period/comma be inside the quotes? It'd be like putting it inside a pair of parentheses. In fact, with inverted commas, which are very similar to quotation marks, the period/comma is written outside of the inverted commas rather than inside them. So it just seems arbitrary that the period/comma should be written outside of the quotes rather than inside them. So I've always ignored this rule, and written the period/comma outside of the quote (ie. to the right of the end quote, rather than to the left of it).

    That being said, there have been a lot of grammatical rules that I've initially thought were pointless or not that important, and so that I've ignored, but that I'd always eventually come around to using, because it'd be incorrect not to. So I may eventually begin following this rule too, even though I think it's stupid. But maybe I should try to stand my ground this time, and reject it.

    I used to ignore that you're supposed to use a new paragraph for each new spoken line as well, but I eventually came around to using that rule too. But the reason I started using this was because I finally did agree that it does make the writing much more clear. It's true that it does take up much more space, particularly if each person only speaks a single sentence each time. But it does make the page much more organised and professional looking, so I think this is a good rule now.

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    • I usually come around, too, but the quotation rule has been bothering me a lot. I've been going out of my way to do it ever since I found out about it (a college professor corrected me on it about a year or so ago), and I just can't get over it.

      The dialogue thing doesn't annoy me as much, I thought I'd just throw it in. Every time I try a different method of dialogue, I tend to get tired of the way it looks by the time I finish that piece of writing. I wish there was a second accepted method, so I could choose which one to use depending on what kind of conversations will be taking place. Sort of like how you can choose between first person or third person.

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      • Yeah, I'd like to hear someone's justification for why the period/comma should be placed inside the quotes, other than that that's the rule.

        I suppose come to think of it, it could actually look much more messy alright to separate each new bit of dialogue into a new paragraph. Instead of having a page neatly separated into five or six paragraphs, each with the two people discussing a different subject, the page would instead appear as a long ream of double-spaced text.

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  • I'm not quite sure what you mean with the "period in quotes". I, personally, when using terms in quotes (like above) always put the period after them.

    When using a quote, say, "By the computation of some ancient historians, Ninive was about fifty miles round: so that to go through all the chief streets and public places was three days' journey," it depends partly on the context the quote is placed within. For example, the quote that I just used actually contains a period at the end, but since it was in the middle of a sentence, I replaced it with a comma. The same is also the case at the end of a sentence, but that rule is not exactly always followed.

    For example, if I were to write: "How dare-", that implies that the quote ends abruptly, rather than intentionally, and can be used, also, to end the sentence.

    In most cases of actual dialogue, in places where you would want to end a sentence, a period would naturally occur in the quote itself.

    If there were a better way than making a new paragraph every time the speaker changes, we probably would have found it already. Although, that isn't necessarily the case, since quotation marks themselves are a rather new concept. Before that, all quotes were written without new paragraphs like this:

    [1] And entering into a boat, he passed over the water and came into his own city. [2] And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. [3] And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. [4] And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? [5] Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk?

    So, you should probably just satisfy yourself with what we currently have, knowing that all quotes could still be written like that.

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  • Here in the UK it's different. As long as they followed the UK rules then I would call it a style choice.

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  • It’s bad writing unless you throw every rule out of the window like in “A Clockwork Orange”, then it’s a style choice O my brothers...

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