dialogue

Updated: Mar 28, 2019


The trick when writing dialogue in fiction is to keep it simple. You're not trying to represent how real conversations happen in everyday life. Endless sentences of people talking over each other and speaking about meaningless things will not keep your readers interested. Your dialogue should convey the important facts you want your characters to tell your reader and skip all the little bits in-between.

“Hello, Edward. It's been a while.”


“Hello, Jane. Yes, it has. It's great to see you. How are you?”


“I’m great, thank you, and how are you?”


I think you get the idea.


Does this make you want to fall asleep?


It would your readers too. Instead, skip to the meat of the conversation.


"Hey, Edward. You're looking rough there."


"Yeah, the wife walked out on me again, and the bloody baby's been keeping me awake every night."


This dialogue would only work if the facts pointed out in it are part of the story, but it didn't take us long to learn the points I wanted to tell the reader.


His wife has walked out on him, and he's been left with the baby.


Dialogue is just another tool in your arsenal as an author and used to break up repetitive blocks of writing. Many readers love seeing white space on the page. Strange, I know. Used right it can also help to keep your readers gripped and turning the page, and by moving the plot forward and giving more depth to the characters and their motivations. Punctuation in Dialogue.

  • When adding a related attribution after the dialogue, you punctuate your dialogue with a comma inside the quotation mark:

"On the floor," the matron said.

  • When the attribute before the dialogue is related to it, the comma goes after the attribution, and the appropriate punctuation mark goes inside the quotation mark at the end of the dialogue:

She said, "Where will I sleep?"

The matron said, "On the floor."

  • You place the punctuation inside the quotation marks when the dialogue ends with a question mark, period, or exclamation mark.

"Don't think pity will sway me, girl."

"What am I expected to wear if I don't get to keep my belongings?" "No!"

  • When the attribute before the dialogue is related to it, the comma goes after the attribution, and the appropriate punctuation mark goes inside the quotation mark at the end of the dialogue:

She said, "Where will I sleep?"

The matron said, "On the floor."

  • If your character can't make up his mind what he is saying you use the em-dash between the different parts of the speech:

“Yes, you're right—no, that's wrong, I meant to say, no.”

  • If your character's conversation is abruptly interrupted, you use an em-dash inside the quotation mark:

“It wasn't lik—”


“I saw you!”

  • You use three ellipses' inside the quotation mark when the character becomes distracted and their dialogue subsides:

“I'm not sure…” said Blossom.

#writing #writingtips #authorblog #imwriting #author

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wolves, old castles, cheese, and All Things fantasy. 
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