Writing Tips: Dialogue

Writing Tips: Dialogue

A Lesson by .

Examples and tips!



Dialogue usually helps a story or book. It makes it more exciting and your readers more drawn into the writing. If you use adverbs and other words for said, such as muttered or yelled, it'll make it less repetitive and more fun. 

But are you punctuating and formatting it right? We'll see. Punctuation and proper format is key because if you've got quotation marks and commas all over the place, how will your reader understand?


1) A question mark or exclamation point may take the place of a comma. It just adds more emphasis. IMPORTANT: if there is a pronoun following the quotation, do NOT uppercase it. 

For example:

Question marks-
A) "Will you please be quiet?" John irritably questioned. 
B) "Will you please be quiet," John irritably questioned. 

Exclamation points-
C) "Yay, Daddy's home," she squealed with glee.
D) "Yay, Daddy's home!" she squealed with glee.

Examples A and D are correct. 
Please restrain yourself from punctuating in ways such as B or C. 

2) Some quotations may be divided. These divided quotations may be one sentence OR two sentences.
One, you still do not capitalize the pronoun. 
Second, you do not capitalize the next part of the sentence, but this is only if the divided quotation is one sentence. 

For example:

One sentence-
A) "If you look here," Professor Carlton began. "You can see the nucleus of this cell."
B) "If you look here," Professor Carlton began, "you can see the nucleus of this cell."

Two sentences-
C) "Look Charlie!" she pointed to the wild stallion. "Isn't she a beauty?"
D) "Look Charlie!" She pointed to the wild stallion, "isn't she a beauty?" 
Example A has two errors. One, there is a period after began. The statement remains unfinished, therefore, it should be a comma. Two, you capitalized, which is incorrect. It should remain lowercase. 
Example B is correct.
Example C is correct. 
Example D has three errors. One, the pronoun she is capitalized. Two, the comma should be a period. Three, isn't should be capitalized because it is a new sentence. 

3) Use dashes to show an interrupted incomplete thought, statement, or question. 

For example:

A) "Wait!" Annie cried. "What about—"
    "No time! We've got to get out of here now!" Chris replied, grabbing Annie's hand. 

4) Use three spaced periods (ellipsis points) to show when a speaker pauses. You also use such periods to indicate when a speaker trails off. In that case, you would put a forth period to show the sentence period.

For example:

Speaker pauses-
A) "Well. . . I don't know. Should we?" she asked hesitantly.

Speaker "trails off"-
B) "I can't! I don't know anymore. I guess. . . I just miss her. . . ." he admit sadly. 

The underlined blue period indicates the forth period to show the sentence period. 

5) Sometimes, there may be quotes within the set of quotes. If you have one character directly quoting another, use single quotes for the quote within a quote.

For example: 
A) "And then she said, 'Get off my lawn!' It's so rude!" she said.


1) ALWAYS capitalize the first letter of a quotation. Self-explanatory. 

2) Whenever there is a new speaker, you create a new paragraph. 

For example:
A) "Come here," Mom commanded. "What do you want now?" Jackie huffed. 
B) "Come here," Mom commanded.
    "What do you want now?" Jackie huffed.

Example A is incorrect. When Jackie speaks, you must create a new paragraph.
Example B is correct.

3) Do not overuse pronouns in dialogue. It gets too repetitive and becomes a drag. 

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Wow. I think I just got a proper punctuation lesson o_o I'm bookmarking this page! ^_^ ♥
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Added on October 8, 2012
Last Updated on October 9, 2012

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