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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

He Said, She Said: Dialogue Writing Tips

Dialogue is a tricky thing to get right, but it often takes up a good-sized portion of every book. Dialogue can bring two characters closer together, drive them further apart, reveal important information, and display any number of things.

Use double quotation marks to open and close each line of dialogue. If there's a dialogue tag (said, asked, responded, quipped), use a comma, unless the dialogue requires an exclamation or question mark. If there isn't a dialogue tag, then there should be a period, unless it needs an exclamation or question mark. Beware of using an excessive amount of exclamation marks. If there's a lot of tension in a scene, the dialogue and actions of the characters should exhibit that.

Also, there should be a new paragraph for each new speaker.

When writing dialogue, keep the character in mind. Take their age, schooling, background, and who they are talking to into consideration. People talk differently to their friends than they do to their parents. They might also talk differently to one friend over another. Incorrect grammar is okay, as long as it makes sense and that's the way that the character would speak. However, be careful when using slang. It tends to evolve quickly and constantly, and can also be regional.

Reading dialogue out loud can help with testing the authenticity. If it doesn't sound right out loud, chances are it's not authentic. 

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