Monday, April 23, 2012

Writing Dialogue

When it comes to writing dialogue, it can be tricky. When dialogue is written well it helps progress the story and adds to the story. Some find it difficult and others think it's an easy part to write. It helps give life to those special characters and it's a way to add personality to each character. When written correctly, a reader can tell who is speaking and how they sound. I've compiled a list of tips to help those who have a hard time writing dialogue.

1. Pay Attention to Others- You want to listen as other people around you speak. Notice which words they use quite often if they portray someone within your book. Filter out the words that don't add to the plot. Extra words make it hard on the reader.

2. Don't Over Do It- This pertains to tags. (He/she said.) The most important part of the dialogue is... yes you guessed it.. the dialogues. When you overuse tags, it draws the reader to them. Therefore, this pulls them away from the actually story.

3. Be Aware- Use slang and profanity sparingly within your dialogue. This is another thing that pulls the reader out of the story.

4. Punctuate Correctly- This is what I've been told is the hardest for some writers. Well, I'm here to try and help clear that up a bit. When you punctuate incorrectly, it shows your a beginner or you really don't care. This is one thing that adds in to giving self-published/Indie authors a bad name. Below you will find some helpful tips on this subject.

Comma: Use it between dialogue and the tag line.
(Example: I hope to go swimming next weekend," she told her as they walked past the pool.)

If you're a writer in America, the commas and periods goes inside the quotations. When using other forms of punctuation- they go outside unless it pertains to what is written inside the quotation marks. This can be a question mark, semicolon, dash, or exclamation point.
(Example: "I don't like summer," she said wiping her forehead. "Where's the towels?" she asked.)
(Example: Did she say, "The black one"?)

Be aware and take notice that the sentence only ends with one punctuation mark. It doesn't have two.

Tag Line: If it interrupts the sentence, it should be set off with commas. Keeping in mind the second part doesn't start with a capital unless its a proper noun.

(Example: "With that said," she finished, "we are done for the day."

If you need to use quotes within quotes, it should be written like this:
"Have you seen the movie 'How To Loose a Guy in Ten Days' yet?" she asked them.

When it comes to interior dialogue, italics are appropriate, just be consistent.

If a quotation spills out over more than one paragraph, don't use end quotes at the close of the first paragraph. Use them only when a character is done speaking.

I hope this helps out. Enjoy writing and have a great weekend.


Michael Cargill said...

I am not too keen on dialogue actually. I find it often ends up sounding a bit corny.

Some good tips here though.

Anonymous said...

You just made my day! Seriously. I always felt like I stumbled through dialogue. I kept feeling like it stalled horribly. And now I know why. It's all the "he said, she said" junk! I do it CONSTANTLY! I kind of thought you had to, lol. Just experimented with it tonight with my writing and it has made writing dialogue easier and I'm sure it sounds less jumbled as well. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!


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