Writing about talking – adding dialogue into your story

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Continuing our series on writing hints and tips, today we are going to look at dialogue.

Dialogue is the act of your characters speaking to each other.

Often it is followed by – Richard said. This is called a dialogue tag. Other examples of dialogue tags are, asked, replied, shouted, screamed, yelled, whispered, nagged, wailed.

Dialogue tags are a great way to show the emotions of your character without the need to tell the reader – for example:

“I don’t want to,” Richard yelled. Is preferred to:

“I don’t want to.” Richard was angry.

You don’t have to use a dialogue tag for each line of speech, where its obvious who is talking.

You can shorten words in dialogue, especially where it gives a more natural flow. For example, “We are going to the beach today.” Can be shortened to “We’re going to the beach today.”

Try to avoid repetition and general chit-chat that is not relevant to the story. for example:

“Good morning,” said Richard.

“Good morning,” replied Joe.

“Are you well?” asked Richard.

“I’m great thanks, how are you?”

This can really slow the flow of your story down and it’s not an interesting read.

Punctuating dialogue

Here are the basic rules:

Use inverted commas always. One at the beginning of the speech and one at the end of the speech. Double or single are both generally acceptable, but use them consistently.

Always put your punctuation inside the closing inverted comma.

Where referring to someone by name, put a comma before the name, for example;

“What do you want, Richard?”

Start a new line for each character who is talking.

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