I wonder, I wa wa wonder…
I’ll be brief. Here’s a mistake I see frequently, much to my surprise:
Why is Jane moving to Ireland, Jack wondered?
The fact that Jack wondered is a statement, however, and the question is “Why is Jane moving to Ireland?”
Therefore the punctuation goes like this:
Why is Jane moving to Ireland? Jack wondered.
Now that can be read in two ways as one declaratory sentence, or as two sentences. His wondering can be, as a separate sentence, a sort of an aside to the question.
Can we tell the writer’s intent by the punctuation? Not really. Does that matter? Not much.
But if that bothers you, you can say either:
Why is Jane moving to Ireland, Jack wondered.
Jack wondered why Jane was moving to Ireland.
Does either of those express your intention better?
At any rate, don’t write: Jack wondered? Because he did wonder, so that’s a statement.
And just after I wrote this, I received an assignment from a student with this line:
Why did Michael have to go to such lengths, he thought?
That was a new one on me. But here’s the correction.
Why did Michael have to go to such lengths? he thought. Well, hmm, Or how about “he wondered.”
You can now return to your prior programming.
Send a comment here if you want to inquire about an edit, or take a class with me at Writer’s Digest University–12 Weeks to a First Draft coming soon. Or download The Naked Writer at Amazon. I have fiction available for download on Smashwords and at Amazon as well, including a YA for girls (The Heroine’s Journey) and an upper middle grade fantasy with a boy protagonist (Strings). The last two novels are available in paperback as well.