Dialogue: What You Need to Know

Sydney Richardson

The Importance of Dialogue

Dialogue lets readers get to know the characters. Writers need to know the basics of writing dialogue for many important reasons: to not confuse the reader, making the personalities of characters clear, and to add more to the story. Many writers get writers' block when they try to come up with dialogue. Knowing where to start and how to write it will give you confidence in writing your story.
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Because there are different types of dialogue, there will be different types of punctuation to go with each. Know where to put the commas when the dialogue tag goes either at the beginning, end, or middle of the sentence. Capitalize the beginning of the sentence and the word after the comma when starting dialogue. Put quotation marks around the words that the character is saying. Think of writing the dialogue the same way as how you would say it.

Dialogue Between Two People

All of the same rules of punctuation are applied between two people just as with one person. When the second speaker starts talking, the material starts on a new line as a new paragraph. New lines of dialogue are indented just like a new normal paragraph.

When taking away the dialogue tags, all of the material inside the quotations is just as a normal sentence would be, but the quotation marks are around all of the sentences the character is saying instead of stopping at the dialogue tag.

Fast Pace Dialogue

When a writer uses dialogue tags, the story seems slower; there is more to read. Taking all but a few of the tags out, the reader will read the dialogue faster, making it seem as if they are hearing the conversation in real life. This helps to show more of the personalities of the characters through speaking.

Dialogue tags start the section, but as the dialogue starts to pick up, they are no longer needed. The mood of each character sets them apart and it easy to tell the difference between them. When writing a long chapter, it would help to propel the reader through the story and speed up the pace a little bit.

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Speech Vs. Thought

Italics are typically used to denote thought that is not spoken by the character. This is my personal favorite because it shows a visual difference between the speech and thought. It makes me imagine the thought in my head just as the character would.


"Talk It Out: How To Punctuate Dialogue In Your Prose." LitReactor. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://litreactor.com/columns/talk-it-out-how-to-punctuate-dialogue-in-your-prose>.