Golden Rules You Should Follow While Writing Dialogues

What are dialogues? Why are they

Dialogues are one of the cornerstones that breathe life into your story. They make your characters alive by giving them voice, opinions, and thoughts. They put forth multiple perspectives of multiple characters and add layers to your narrative. They also come as a breather in your pages-long narrative filled with description and story. Dialogues pose the power to push your plot ahead with only a few words. Well-written and carefully curated dialogues add dynamics to your idea and give substance to your characters. 

But you cannot just write dialogues. There are certain rules one must adhere to while writing dialogues. Let’s read ahead and learn what boxes you need to check while writing dialogues.

“A punctuation mark is a symbol such as a full stop or period, comma, or question mark that you use to divide written words into sentences and clauses,” defines Collins Dictionary. When written with a dialogue, they become a part of the dialogue and ALWAYS go inside the closing quotation marks. Be it a comma (,), full stop/period (.), an exclamation mark (!), question mark, or a semicolon (;) everything goes inside the quotation mark. Only in a few cases, like if you’re asking a question about the quote only then it will go outside the quotation marks. Also, keep in mind to capitalize the first letter of the first word inside the quote. Irrespective of what you want to convey in your dialogue, the first letter of the first word shall always remain capitalized.

Example:

  1. “I am fine. How are you doing?” asked her friend.
  2. “I have a half-day at school tomorrow,” said Tim to his mother.
  3. “Oh, look at the rainbow!” screamed the little girl.
  4. Which poem has the line “Up above the world so high”?

A dialogue is incomplete if you don’t mention who said it. It will be ambiguous and create confusion in the minds of the reader.  Whenever a new speaker is introduced in the narrative, you need to tag him/her at the end of the dialogue. Only in the case when two people are talking, you can omit tagging after tagging the speakers in the first three-four dialogues.

Example:

“You look beautiful,” said Ron.

“Thank you,” replied Eva.

 

When speakers are talking uninterruptedly. 

“Did you attend Math class yesterday?” asked Sam.

“Yes. Were you not present yesterday?” replied Tom.

“No, I was down with a fever.”

“Oh, I hope you’re feeling well now.”

“Yes. Thank you for asking. Could you please share yesterday’s work?”

“Yes, definitely.”

Using multiple tags

He said, she said, tends to get boring after a while. You need to add emotions through tags so that you can articulate not only thought but also feeling through words. It adds flavours to your work and spices up things as well. It also grasps readers attention and you would also not need to use too many descriptions to substantiate your thought. 

Example:

  1. “Did he do it purposely?” she wondered. 
  2. “Look! The bulls are running in our direction,” he screamed and ran for his life.
  3. “Let’s keep this a surprise,” she whispered and soon hushed everyone when she saw him coming. 
  4. “Are you alright?” he asked, worriedly.
Multiple paragraphs

Many times it happens that some dialogues are pretty long and run over multiple paragraphs. In these cases, you need not open and close quotes at the beginning and end of every paragraph. You only need to open quotes at the start of every paragraph and put the closing quotes at the end of the last paragraph.  

Example:

John then told us the story of his interview: “I arrived at the office building about 30 minutes early. I waited in the lobby with another candidate. I felt a little nervous but knew that I had prepared well in the days leading up to it. The candidate in the waiting room with me went first and his interview lasted about 20 minutes.

“After his interview was over, I had mine. The hiring manager was very friendly and helped me to feel at ease. We talked about my previous work experience and what I studied in college. I felt I answered most of the questions well and that I made a good impression on the interviewer. Before I knew it, the interview was over and I was on my way back home.”

Interruptions

While conversing it is normal to cut someone in between and start speaking your mind. And when it happens as a form of dialogue, it feels legit for the readers as it portrays reality and a continuum. But how to incorporate it? Simple, with an Em Dash. It is inserted in your MS Word document by pressing the Alt key + Shift key + hyphen key or Option key + Shift key + hyphen key. 

Example: 

“I wanted to tell you that—”

Before he could complete it, Riya intervened, “I, too, want to tell you something. Let me say first.”

 

So, these are a few basic rules that you need to follow while writing your dialogues. Hope these were helpful and knowledgeable. Tell us in the comments below your views!
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