How To Write Dialogue

Dialogue can be one of the trickiest forms of writing to learn (it certainly was for me) and it can be even harder to truly master.

Basics

Quotation Marks: When you want to let your reader know a character is speaking you put their words inside double quotation marks.

“I can’t believe you got accepted to Harvard with only a 2.5 GPA.” said Billy.

Great way to explain information without info dumping

Info Dumping: When an author dumps a ton of random information they want the reader to know all at once. This bores readers and interrupts the story with a lecture.

Dialogue tags

This is a word used either before, in the middle, or after dialogue

  • Keep sentence ending punctuation (period, exclamation point) inside the quotation mark

Before: Jared said, “I don’t like the way he looks at you.”

Middle: “The way he looks at you,” Jared explained, “I don’t like it.”

After: “I don’t like the way he looks at you.” said Jared

Other Said Words

Instead of saying “he said” “she said” over and over again, many authors choose to replace said with other words.

Some examples are:

  • Acknowledged
  • Cried
  • Remarked
  • Giggled
  • Smiled
  • Screamed
  • Mumbled
  • Warned
  • Snarled

The point of using other said words, is mix the flow and repitition of using ‘said’ over and over again.

The added bonus, is these words help to describe the characters actions and emotional state as well

Here is a link that contain a nice list of other said words to spice up your dialogue tags

Subtext

The best way to explain subtext, is that it is like adding another story to the story you are already reading.

Subtext is when there is a conversation of dialogue, and the words the characters are saying aren’t what they really mean. In other words, its like a game.

It also makes your story a lot more interesting as your audience will have to pay attention so they can figure out why the characters are being indirect.

How interesting is listening to two characters talking about the mail?

Its not.

Example 1: Gary sits on a bench next to Amy and Its starting to rain.

“Oh! I felt another drop, time to go ” said Gary.

“I love the rain.” said Amy reaching a hand out to catch the tiny droplets.

“Really? Thats new.”

“People change.”

However, that conversation becomes a lot more interesting if we are given the context that the couple is married and Gary was having an affair. Lets also say that Amy caught them secretly and Gary has no idea.

Does that information change the dialogue?

The characters are saying the same thing, but now there is the added tension between them. The reader is going to wonder if Gary suspects that Amy knows, or whether Amy is going to reveal that she know the truth.

Subtext is like frosting on a cake. You can have great dialogue without it, but trust me, you want that frosting!

Published by authoraidwriting

Helping Writers Write!

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