Effective Dialogue

Dialogue brings the characters to life. It also moves the story forward. Before you can write the dialogue, first ask yourself, who is telling the story? The story from the main character’s point of view creates a story sense of identification. In a sense, the reader becomes the hero. The main character only knows what he experiences or what is told to him. The other characters in the story must be conveyed through the main character’s eyes. If the story is told through the protagonist, you can’t hop into another character’s head.

How do you make dialogue sound authentic? Listen. Sit in a mall, a park, a school, or anywhere there are people and listen to the sound of their voices and their dialogue. Do they have a lisp? Do they stutter? Do they repeat certain words? Do they have an accent?

Dialogue is always enclosed in quotation marks. It’s the signal that tells the reader these are spoken words. Each time the speaker changes, you must start a new paragraph. Punctuation at the end of the spoken words goes inside the end-quote marks. A tagline states who is speaking. A tagline isn’t always necessary when it’s clear who is speaking. When a tagline comes first, use a comma to introduce the dialogue.

I hope this helps those that have had problems understanding how to write effective dialogue.


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