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An Amateur-Editor’s Note on How to Paragraph Dialogue, and Other Dialogue-Related Crime Avoidance Techniques” by Dailenna

On my daily walk about the internet I often come across some horrible piece of writing at which I’m forced to stop reading and take a few deep breaths to calm myself before either sending a note to the writer, or fleeing in terror. These pieces of writing are usually just an accumulation of terrible spelling, grammar, syntax, and too much or too little plot, description, dialogue or action. Yes, there are stories that may have a lean towards dialogue or action and still look absolutely wonderful – in fact, these are the stories usually best written, because the author has learnt how to use their skills and mediums to produce the best result from a usually disastrous content – but the bundles of words I’m referring to have not had the same care and talent poured into them.

It could be the case that small children and people who don’t have English as a first language are taking over the ‘English language’ section of the internet with their writing skills, but I try to give those people some room to improve since they’re still learning, and I know at least a handful of people in those categories who can produce stunning writing.

So for those less educated, I present to you the possible first in a series (because if I come across anything else that irks me, I’ll write another one – beware . . . ) of writing-related crime avoidance techniques. Beginning with dialogue.

Now, the content of dialogue is entirely up to the writer. They are the ones to choose the wording, the tone, the accents, the inferences – and everything else you can possibly think of that the spoken word can do. The written form, however, is often botched in whatever way an unlearned author can manage, and then, without a glance in the direction of editing, placed in a public arena with the intention of making all gasp in wonder at its brilliance. “Ahah!” the audience is meant to say. “What genius! What wonderment! What a fabulous creation!”

Yes. Indeed. What the author has not noticed in their attempt to refrain from looking at their work again (most likely for fear that they’ll see all the mistakes they made), is that not only have they spelt every second word wrong, but they’ve also made characters say and do things, and react in ways that no reasonable human being would. For example, something I saw last night: previously in the story I was reading, a girl had been raped. Then, a few chapters later, a male friend said directly to her “a woman’s pain is a man’s pleasure,” to do with some conversation between the girl and the male hero of the story. Despite it being the first thing that I realised, neither of the characters seemed to notice that rape isn’t exactly fun for the woman, but the rapist seems to get some sick enjoyment out of it. Yes, in this case a woman’s pain can be a man’s pleasure. An illegal pleasure that he can be incarcerated for, and that causes many friends of mine to think of two words all men loathe: ‘eunuch’, and/or ‘castration’.

But this is just an example of what a badly worded piece of writing can do. Remember, if you can turn other people’s sentences into something offensive to yourself, then so should at least some of the characters of that story you’re writing –not every person fits the stereotypical blonde category, no matter what their hair colour may be, and to make a story realistic, neither should all of the characters.

The purpose of this document was to talk about dialogue, so maybe I should go from inferences in dialogue to some actual mistakes that I can help you to fix. Some of these might be more helpful to you than others, depending on what you have or haven’t mastered yet.

First, we begin with inverted commas. Inverted commas have been called by other names, such as ‘speech-marks’, ‘dialogue-markers’, ‘double apostrophes’, ‘sixty-sixes and ninety-nines’, and, of course, ‘bunny ears’. They’re the little things I was using on either side of the examples I gave for what the audience is supposed to say when they see a piece of your writing, and for the rape example. So if you read those and didn’t just skip ahead to this paragraph, then you’ve seen inverted commas at least six times.

When a person talks in a written piece of work, it is customary to use inverted commas to mark their speech. Some authors are able to get away without using them if they do it for a specific purpose, but YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. Put the inverted commas in, and no one gets hurt. The reason why these people are able to get away without using inverted commas is that they distinctly mark the sections of speech with something else that makes it obvious it is speech from the very beginning. If you don’t know how to do this properly, then often enough a reader is left floundering and wondering where a person is speaking, and where the writer is just describing something. Until you are a professional, please do not try to attempt this.

Here I’ll give an example. My two example people are Dailenna and Stuart. I’m going to write two small paragraphs in which there is both dialogue and description, without inverted commas. You should be able to get a rough idea of what is being said, but the tone and the tempo won’t be right because it’s hard to define what is what.

Dailenna opened the door and walked into the house, locking the door behind her before dumping her bag and coat on the floor in the hallway. Today was just not right – an absolute disaster. She didn’t know how she was supposed to react. Stuart? There was no answer. Are you home? she called. Still nothing. Mustn’t be there, I guess.

Stuart had actually gone into the garage for a minute, but Dailenna had no way of knowing that. When she opened the back door and couldn’t see him out there, she closed it again and locked it. This isn’t the sort of neighbourhood in which to leave doors unlocked.


Now, here it is again, but with the inverted commas:

Dailenna opened the door and walked into the house, locking the door behind her before dumping her bag and coat on the floor in the hallway. Today was just not right – an absolute disaster. She didn’t know how she was supposed to react. “Stuart?” There was no answer. “Are you home?” she called. Still nothing. “Mustn’t be there, I guess.”

Stuart had actually gone into the garage for a minute, but Dailenna had no way of knowing that. When she opened the back door and couldn’t see him out there, she closed it again and locked it. “This isn’t the sort of neighbourhood in which to leave doors unlocked.”


The problem is that with a mix of times specifying when she spoke, and not making that specification (the “she called” part), it makes it difficult for the reader to understand that Dailenna is even speaking. The “she called” points out that either directly before or after – most likely before – the character had spoken. The reader is then left to figure out for how long the character has been speaking. Easier just to put the inverted commas in, isn’t it?

In the example which I’ve just written, it’s easier to distinguish than in some others. That’s because while the description and action are written in past tense, the dialogue is in the present tense. Also, I refer to Dailenna by name or in the third person (he/she/it/they), while she refers to herself in the first person (me/myself/I). If a writer chooses to write in first person present tense, and forgets to put in a set of inverted commas, the character may as well not have spoken at all, as far as the reader is concerned - and if the reader doesn’t know the character just spoke, then it’s a puzzle as to how the other characters come to respond.

Second, always start a new paragraph when a new person talks. The basic rule of paragraphing is that you must start a new paragraph when the idea you’re writing about changes, or when a new person talks. Sometimes, even if no-one has spoken yet in a paragraph, it’s still a good idea to start a new one when someone chooses to talk.

The reason for this rule is that when a paragraph runs on for too long, it takes a lot more effort to read it than it does to read a few smaller paragraphs. It is easier for the human mind to read three five-line paragraphs than to read one fifteen-line paragraph, purely because their concentration span wants to know that they’re actually getting somewhere, and it’s easier to be able to tell if there’s an obvious marker – a new paragraph.

As you can see from my last example, it is possible for the same person to talk more than once in one paragraph, which is why two different people talking in the same paragraph can cause some confusion. Also, if there are three people in the room and more than one person talks in the same paragraph, it isn’t easy to tell which of the two who didn’t talk first is now speaking. Then conversation can’t take the easy way out and go Person A, Person B, Person A, Person B, because person C might want to talk at some point, and people aren’t very good at taking turns in conversations, so while A B A B might work, A B C A B C wouldn’t be anywhere near as common a talking pattern.

So I’ll give an example, firstly with two characters to show the difficulty of discerning one person’s talking from the other, and then another with three characters to highlight the further confusion caused by adding more characters into the mix.

When he finally got inside, Stuart was furious. “Why did you lock me outside?” he asked, noisily dropping his tools on the wooden floor. “I didn’t mean to,” Dailenna said. “I didn’t know you were outside.” “Of course I was outside! Where else would I be?” “You might have been at the shops,” she scoffed, walking past him into the kitchen.

This is a case that I have seen many times. It doesn’t matter whether they’re the same sex or opposite sexes (although if they’re the same sex, and you’re referring to both of them as ‘he’ or ‘she’, that would make it even more confusing). Because Stuart spoke first, and there was no way of seeing that someone else was the one beginning to talk, when Dailenna begins to speak, it first looks like it’s Stuart. Of course, when the reader sees that Dailenna is the one specified, they can tell that no, she’s the one speaking, and so they can safely assume that the conversation will be A B A B, right? Wrong. As we already know, a person can speak more than once with a gap between their sections of speech, and this is the case here. Dailenna begins to speak again, and because our minds naturally assume the pattern, it’s only by the content of the dialogue that we can figure out who’s speaking. It is much safer, and easier for the reader to understand if it is set out like this:

When he finally got inside, Stuart was furious. “Why did you lock me outside?” he asked, noisily dropping his tools on the wooden floor.

“I didn’t mean to,” Dailenna said, “I didn’t know you were outside.”

“Of course I was outside! Where else would I be?”

“You might have been at the shops,” she scoffed, walking past him into the kitchen.


This way, it is obvious who is talking because each person has their own new paragraph. Luckily, with only two characters so far, we are safe to say that there’s a 50-50 chance it’ll be one or the other, and if we don’t get it right the first time, then it’s just the other – which is why I’ll show you the same paragraphing problem, but I’ll introduce a third character to show you the difficulties some writers create for their audiences.

Stretching her arms and yawning, Eranith shuffled into the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Seeing the storm-cloud faces of her brother and sister, she paused in her tracks. “Is something wrong?” “Nothing you need to worry about,” Stuart grumbled. “Did you just wake up?” “Yeah. I had a late shift last night.” “Late shift? I thought you were at the Barnaby’s.” “No, that was the night before – she said she’d be out because she had a big shift coming up and wanted to make the best of her free time.” “Yep, that’s the one.”

Now, please don’t try to say that you understood who was talking in that jumble. Maybe you can define what Eranith is saying because she’s talking in first person for the main part, but you wouldn’t have been able to decipher who was Stuart and who was Dailenna, other than the one lot of speech marked. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not writing this to make you agonise over these problems needlessly. I have seen writing this confusing before, and if you’re up for reading any story on the internet, then it’s quite possible that you’ll come across it at some point, too.

So I’ll let you know how to pick this paragraph apart. It can be discerned that the first person talking is Eranith. She has just come in on Stuart and Dailenna’s argument, and is clueless, so she asks a question. At least, that makes a whole lot more sense than Dailenna or Stuart asking when the paragraph has already made clear that Eranith is merely tired and hungry, while the other two are visibly angry. Immediately following, we at first can’t be sure which of the other two is speaking, but luckily the “Stuart grumbled” helps out. The following mess is what leaves the brain in a jumble. What the reader might assume is that now Stuart’s had his turn at talking, the next part must be Dailenna, asking Eranith a question, Eranith answering, and who knows who’s talking afterwards? Let me sort it out for you to make it a little clearer.

Stretching her arms and yawning, Eranith shuffled into the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Seeing the storm-cloud faces of her brother and sister, she paused in her tracks. “Is something wrong?”

“Nothing you need to worry about,” Stuart grumbled. “Did you just wake up?”

“Yeah. I had a late shift last night.”

“Late shift? I thought you were at the Barnaby’s.”

“No, that was the night before – she said she’d be out because she had a big shift coming up and wanted to make the best of her free time.”

“Yep, that’s the one.”


Now, although the lack of explanation leaves us confused as to who the last few talkers are, we can see that it was actually Stuart asking the second question. If we try it compacted again, and put in another ‘so-and-so said’, let’s see what other problems that could create for the reader.

Stretching her arms and yawning, Eranith shuffled into the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Seeing the storm-cloud faces of her brother and sister, she paused in her tracks. “Is something wrong?” “Nothing you need to worry about,” Stuart grumbled. “Did you just wake up?” “Yeah. I had a late shift last night.” “Late shift? I thought you were at the Barnaby’s.” “No, that was the night before – she said she’d be out because she had a big shift coming up and wanted to make the best of her free time,” Stuart corrected. “Yep, that’s the one.”

This time, because of the strategically placed “Stuart corrected” in the last line, it can seem as though the “Yep, that’s the one” is also his, in some attempt to confirm what he had just said. Although I’m sure that most people already picked up on the fact that someone else said it (some because of my paragraphing edit above, and others of you would just be that cluey), there would be some who are confused by it. So this time, I’ll re-paragraph it again, this time adding in whom is saying what.

Stretching her arms and yawning, Eranith shuffled into the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Seeing the storm-cloud faces of her brother and sister, she paused in her tracks. “Is something wrong?”

“Nothing you need to worry about,” Stuart grumbled. “Did you just wake up?”

“Yeah. I had a late shift last night,” Eranith said, leaning on the sink.

Dailenna frowned. “Late shift? I thought you were at the Barnaby’s.”

“No, that was the night before – she said she’d be out because she had a big shift coming up and wanted to make the best of her free time,” Stuart corrected.

Eranith nodded lazily. “Yep, that’s the one.”


In this case we can clearly see who is talking. I’ve also added in some descriptive actions because I think that you can only put so many lots of ‘Stuart said’, ‘Eranith asked’, ‘Dailenna spat’ and whatever else you might find before it sounds repetitive. This is a personal opinion that I might address another time, but not in this document.

So we can see that you need to start a new paragraph when someone new talks, and if there’s more than two people in the conversation, it’s best to label who’s talking to avoid confusion.

Thirdly, when a person reacts to another person’s dialogue, you need to make it absolutely clear who is speaking at the time, or it can seem like the character reacting is the one talking. This includes if the one person talks twice in the paragraph, or otherwise it can look like a mistake. This calls for another example, so that you can see what I mean. In this case, I will paragraph my work, but in the incorrect manner that I have seen frequently over the last year and a half. I apologise to you all.

“So what were you two yelling about before I came in, then?” Stuart scowled.

“Dailenna locked me outside.”

“I didn’t know you were outside! I even looked before I locked the door,” Dailenna said, getting annoyed again.

“You know that we’re supposed to keep the doors locked anyway. It isn’t like this is the best neighbourhood to live in!”


Now, what we have here is what looks like Stuart scowling at the two girls for yelling before he came in (false), someone else having been locked out by Dailenna (false), Dailenna getting annoyed and not knowing that Stuart was outside (true), and someone else saying that they’re supposed to keep the doors locked (false). I have seen each of these things before. Some people assume that because it’s the dialogue of the person speaking beforehand that their character is reacting to, the two should go together – dialogue of one character, and reaction of the other – and they then misapply the ‘always start a new paragraph for a new person talking’ rule (which is unbreakable – as in, even the writing greats can’t get away with breaking this rule). And also, this example shows the way people assume that when you have a break to point out who’s talking, you need to start a new paragraph for them there, too. So that you know what I’m whinging about here, I’ll correct it.

“So what were you two yelling about before I came in, then?”

Stuart scowled. “Dailenna locked me outside.”

“I didn’t know you were outside! I even looked before I locked the door,” Dailenna said, getting annoyed again. “You know that we’re supposed to keep the doors locked anyway. It isn’t like this is the best neighbourhood to live in!”


Now we can see the actions and dialogues grouped correctly. We know that Eranith is the one speaking first, because she is the only one who fits the description of having come in while the other two were talking. Stuart’s scowl may have been in response to Eranith’s words, but we can still understand that when it’s grouped with what he’s saying. It isn’t necessary that if a paragraph has dialogue that the dialogue is at the very start; you are allowed to write description and then have the spoken section, just as long as the two are relevant to each other. For example, you wouldn’t put a description of Christmas directly before someone says something about death, unless the death was directly related to the description of Christmas (“grandma died on Christmas Day” could go on to talk about death, but “Christmas is a time of giving” wouldn’t really fit the criteria).

In the last part, we can see that not all dialogue needs to go into a new paragraph. Only if it is someone else speaking, or if it’s an entirely new idea, in which you would specify in both paragraphs who it is talking. If the one person is talking in two paragraphs, then you can end the first paragraph with ‘so-and-so said’ and then start the new one with dialogue – that’s perfectly acceptable, provided you make it clear so-and-so is still the one talking – but if the first paragraph ends with dialogue, it is customary to leave out the closing inverted commas (the ‘ninety-nine’ part of a pair of ‘sixty-sixes and ninety-nines’) but to still start with a new set in the next paragraph, to remind the reader that what they’re looking at is still dialogue rather than just a case of the author forgetting to put the closing set of inverted commas in.

Four, some people don’t seem to understand how to use punctuation at the end of a set of inverted commas, and others just ignore it completely and don’t put any in. It took me a while to understand how to do this, too (I finally understood how to mark question marks when writing my only completed novel-length original story in years eight to ten), but now I have the knack of it, and I’m willing to pass this understanding over to other people as well. Gather round and listen closely! Well . . . just read this example.

After not coming to a resolution in their argument, Stuart finally stomped over to the tools he had dropped on the floor and picked them up, only to go back out the door, towards the garage.

“Take a key with you.” Called out Dailenna. “Because I’m locking the door again”

“So what if I don’t,” asked Stuart. “I’ll just climb in through a window”


Alright, another mess here. Not so confusing as those in which the characters themselves are hard to figure out, but it’s still difficult to get a measure of the tone of the characters in there, because the sentences aren’t as defined, and some aren’t even punctuated, let alone correctly.

The problems are in sentence-structure, essentially. What you need to know as a writer is that what the person is saying is completely different from the description in between the dialogue, and so the structure is separate as well. When switching between dialogue and description, it is customary to put some punctuation mark, but if it’s in the middle of a sentence (which you as the writer can usually determine by speaking the dialogue out loud, without the description sections. This helps you find out if it’s all the one sentence, or if it ends where the description begins), you should use a comma, and then when the dialogue opens up again, since it isn’t the beginning of a new sentence, there is no need for a full-stop again. Let’s look at what Dailenna is saying. Without the description in the middle it would look like this:

“Take a key with you, because I’m locking the door again.”

Here we can see that the two sections combine to make one sentence, so if we put description in the middle, we need to make it obvious that it is a continued sentence, and not two different sections. To do that, it should look like this:

“Take a key with you,” called out Dailenna, “because I’m locking the door again.”

The commas after the first section of dialogue and after the description let us know that it keeps on flowing on rather than starting and stopping. Since the description is connected to the dialogue before it, it has no need for a capital. Now let’s have a look at the example for question marks, and at the same time for sentences that end in the dialogue, before a description. Here’s what there was originally:

“So what if I don’t,” asked Stuart. “I’ll just climb in through a window”

We know that what Stuart is saying is a question, because it’s written that he ‘asked’. So where is the question mark? When the first section of dialogue is a complete sentence, and the second section is a new sentence, it’s customary to still put a comma at the end of the first section, and merely put a full-stop at the end of the description, because, as I stated before, the first section of dialogue and the description are linked. Question marks and exclamation marks, however, are necessary to help set the tone of the conversation, and so they should still be kept there:

“So what if I don’t?” asked Stuart. “I’ll just climb in through a window.”

What looks odd here is now is that the ‘asked’ still begins with a lower-case letter. But, as I said before, the dialogue and the description are linked. When talking out loud, after a question, your voice naturally inflects upwards to indicate a question. In a story, the question mark needs to be there to provide that inflection, but when reading it out loud you find that even though you make that inflection after the question mark, the description is still spoken as the same sentence. It’s because it’s still linked like that, that the ‘asked’ keeps the lower-case ‘a’.

If the ‘a’ was capitalised, it would indicate the beginning of a new sentence, and when you think about it, ‘asked Stuart’ doesn’t make all that much sense. If you walked up to someone and said “Asked Stuart,” their minds would try to convert it into the closest possible sentence, and your most probable replies would be “Ask Stuart what?” and just plain “What?” Or if they heard you properly, then “What did Stuart ask?” See – it doesn’t make sense as a sentence on its own because it’s meant to be linked to the sentence beforehand, so it needs to keep the lowercase first letter.

Oh, and don’t forget that even when the dialogue finishes, it needs a full-stop there, too. I’ve seen too many times when people remember to close their inverted commas, but forget to put a full-stop there.

Fifth, don’t use the same descriptive words over and again. This is something that you should already know – in the younger grades you’ll find that plenty of teachers have a tendency to say “What’s a better word for ‘good’?” a lot – but I’m talking specifically about ‘asked’ and ‘said’.

If throughout your story you don’t use anything other than ‘asked’ or ‘said’, the reader can’t get as much tone out of what you’re writing. The more descriptive your writing, the better a picture the reader will be able to get, and they’ll be able to appreciate your work more. I won’t provide a story example this time, but I’ll explain what a few of these words mean, and the impression that they can give the readers, so that you understand the impact they have.

Said: when someone has ‘said’ something, it’s often an emotion that can’t really be pinned down. It’s not extremely anything, which is why it’s most often used. ‘Said’ implies a general calm, or factualness. You can put an adjective with it to change the tone, but if possible, just use another word.

Exclaimed: while giving an impression of speaking louder, this isn’t just that. ‘Exclaimed’ is best used in cases when someone has just come to a realisation. Do not use it for questions. It works with statements of discovery (for example, ‘“You’re the King!” he exclaimed’), and with demands (for example, ‘“You give me back my hat, or I’ll hit you!” he exclaimed). You’ll note that in both of the examples given, the ‘exclamation’ is paired with an exclamation mark. Coincidence? I think not.

Whispered: when a person whispers, it is generally directed towards someone else. Think of the game ‘Chinese Whispers’. In this, each person whispers right into the ear of the person next to them. That is the general idea of whispering, although it is possible to whisper without being that close to someone. It does hold the idea of being close enough for someone to hear you while you’re speaking quietly, though, and often means that no one other than that one person is meant to hear.

Muttered: muttering is like whispering, except it is done to oneself rather than to another person. If a character mutters something, it usually means that other people were not meant to hear what they were saying, and they were just speaking their thoughts out loud.

Mumbled: mumbling is again similar to muttering in that it is speaking quietly and usually to oneself. Mumbling isn’t usually done as intentionally as muttering, and it’s used as a sign of shyness, because a shyer or quieter person might mumble their words when they are speaking to someone else, due to a lack of confidence in what they are saying.

Murmured: this is also a phrase used for saying a person is talking quietly. ‘Murmuring’, however, carries a more sultry emotion. It’s more likely to be used in times when two characters are pawing all over each other than when they’re grumbling and calling each other names behind their backs.

Asked: this is the general word used for questions. It is similar to ‘said’ in that it doesn’t carry any particular emotional connotations with it. If you combined ‘asked’ with an emotively descriptive word (for example, ‘he asked hesitantly’), it can give a whole new impression. ‘Asked’, when combined with adjectives, can cover a wide range of emotions and actions.

Demanded: this doesn’t work for a simple statement. Demanding gives the idea of someone not just asking something, but asking for something, and forcefully at that. The difference between the use of ‘asked’ and ‘demanded’ can be seen here:

“What’s the time?” asked Stuart.

OR

“Tell me what the time is,” Stuart demanded.

As you can see, ‘asked’ is put with the version that has a question mark. It is an actual question. ‘Demanded’ is put with a sentence in which Stuart directs the other character to do something. The two sentences would be given the same answer, but ‘asked’ is more polite and patient while ‘demanded’ seems more urgent, or just plain bossy.

Some descriptive ways of letting the reader know how a character spoke can even just be what their speech is doing. If a character makes a criticism, you could have ‘Dailenna criticised’, or if they were telling someone off, you could have ‘Eranith lectured’. If you can summarise what a person’s dialogue is doing into one word, then there is a possibility it will work.

Sixthly, and lastly for now – thank goodness – use of direct quotes and indirect quotes. Direct quotes are the ones in which a person uses inverted commas and writes exactly what a character said inside them. Indirect quotes are different, because they don’t use inverted commas, and only give the gist of what a person was saying. They both have their pros and cons.

Direct quotes (with inverted commas) give a more accurate idea of what a person is saying. We know every word, and are more likely to know the nuances and the way that they said it. They are bad, however, because they can take a longer period of time to read through.

Indirect quotes (for example, ‘Eranith told the others she was going back to her room’) allow a person to speak without having to write it word for word. They let the reader know what’s going on without making them sort through what is relevant and what isn’t. The problem is that they give less detail, and unless the description is well done, it often can’t have the same emotional impact as a direct quote. Also, when skim reading, it’s easier to understand what’s happening by reading the dialogue, and if it’s in indirect quotes, it’s harder for a skim-reader to find.

In case the example didn’t show well enough, indirect quotes are when a piece of writing has written ‘so-and-so said that this and that happened’ rather than ‘“This and that happened,” so-and-so said.’ If people forget their inverted commas, that is not the same as indirect quotes. The structure of the sentence changed too, mainly because in an indirect quote, the person who said something is specified first, whereas with direct quotes, the person is most often identified afterwards. Sometimes they are identified first, but that is another point to make a too-long document even longer.


I will finish by giving a quick overview:
One – Don’t forget your inverted commas.
Two – Always start a new paragraph when a new character talks, and make it obvious who is speaking.
Three – Be careful when grouping different people’s actions and dialogue – keep the speaker obvious.
Four – Ending a set of inverted commas requires punctuation of some sort.
Five – There is more than one way to say ‘said’.
Six – Use direct quotes where possible, and indirect quotes where necessary.

Thank you for reading, I know that this is long and unwieldy, but even when editing it (hint hint – please remember to edit your own works), I couldn’t find anything to cut out.
One day I got annoyed at all of the mistakes I saw in a story, and decided to write something to let people know how to write dialogue properly. It's long, it's painful, but it took me ages, and I did it meaning to educate people, rather than to pick on anyone. Sorry if my sarcasm sounds mean. Especially sorry for how long it is . . . I'd cut it down if I knew HOW.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconjoverall22:
joverall22 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is great. Thank you for the tutorial. 


Reply
:icondailenna:
dailenna Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
Reply
:iconlesliewifeofbath:
Lesliewifeofbath Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for sharing this great tutorial.  I'd like to link this to my group The-Bards-College.
Reply
:icondailenna:
dailenna Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013
I'm glad you like it :)

I have no problems with people using my work for things, so long as I'm credited for it. So linking is great! Thanks for checking.
Reply
:iconnekluvshp:
nekluvshp Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I know how to write dialogue, but there is one thing I've been scouring the internet for and I can't find anything helpful.
Do you know how to write dialogue with two characters speaking at the same time but saying different things? I've seen it done a couple of different ways but I'm still not sure.
These are examples using the exact words I have in mind.
ex. 1:
"... for a kiss."

"Fine." "Hell no!"

or

ex.2:
"... for a kiss."

"Fine-"

"Hell no-"

Personally, I think the second one works best.
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:icondailenna:
dailenna Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Yeah, I prefer the look of the second one, but I'd consider this option:

"...for a kiss."
"-Fine."
"-Hell no!"

There's no set way to do it in regular prose as far as I'm aware, but there is a way of writing it in a play format. There they use indentation to show people talking over the top of each other. I'm not sure if the spaces will work here, so I'll just use --- to show the effect.

Person A: ...for a kiss.
Person B: ------------- "Fine."
Person C: ------------- "Hell no!"

It's usually used for people interrupting, like

"I don't know what you think, but I think it's terrible."
---------------------------- "It's the best idea ever!"

Basically it means that the second person starts talking over the person before them, where their line matches up. So play-writing has a legitimate way of dealing with it that you could try to appropriate into regular prose.
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:iconnekluvshp:
nekluvshp Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the reply. I managed to work something out already though. The last speaker is actually going to keep talking. I realized there was more he needs to say after that.
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:icondailenna:
dailenna Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
Cool :)
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:iconbstar955:
bstar955 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011
Extremely Helpful!!! I am glad I stumbled upon this.
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:icondailenna:
dailenna Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
Glad to help :D Thanks for the +fave!
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