Many stories include the actual conversation between characters. This is dialogue. Dialogue can add a lot to a story and it should always have a purpose.
Example: "Lets go to the store," said Jason. "Frank and Mark said theyd meet us there." This is an example of dialogue that is moving the plot along because now the characters are going to the store.
Example: "You need to apologize," said mother. "No!" screamed Jane. "I will never say Im sorry and you cant make me!“ This is an example of dialogue that reveals something about the character. We see that she is stubborn and has a bad temper.
Example (from Underground to Canada): "Julilly," Liza mumbled, "I think my own bones has come loose, and is rattlin around in this sack."... "Freedom aint easy, Massa Ross." Liza sounded again like the sullen, angry girl of the long-ago slave cabin on the Riley plantation. "Even you got put in jail, and your face dont look so well.“ Lizas words help create the feeling of the south, where shes from. Her speech pattern and choice of words adds to the realism.
Example: "What do you want to do today?" asked Fran. "I dont know. What do you want to do?" replied Janet. "I dont know either," said Fran. "Ok," said Janet. This is an example of pointless dialogue. There is really no purpose to it and it makes the piece boring.
The rules for how to write dialogue can be confusing. Examine the examples on the following slides to clarify your understanding.
Example: "Hurry up!" yelled Craig. <--Craigs exact words are "Hurry up!“ Craig told her to hurry up. <--These are not the exact words so no quotation marks.
Example: ◦ "Were going to be late, " complained Colleen. "I hate being late. Everyone stares at you when you walk in." Colleen glared at her brother as he put on his shoes. ◦ "Youre such a worrier!" said Mark as he rolled his eyes. ◦ "Come on! Lets go!" urged Colleen. Notice that Colleen and Mark dont speak in the same paragraph.
Example: "Mr. Jones," Amy pleaded, "I forgot my permission slip for the field trip!" "Im sorry then. You cant go without parental consent." Not necessary each time you change speakers, but you do need to distinguish who is speaking periodically to avoid confusion. Not necessary to write „said Mr Jones‟ because its obvious from the preceding paragraph that Amy is talking to him.
The speech tag is the part of the sentence where you identify who the speaker is and how he/she said it (ex: he said). Proper punctuation and capitals depend on where the speech tag is. She He asked shouted
Use a comma after the speech tag, EXCEPT if its at the end of the sentence. If its at the end of the sentence, use a period. Look at the red punctuation below. , Steve said "Good morning ladies and gentlemen.” , "Ladies and gentlemen " said Steve, "good morning.” "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, " said Steve .
The first word in the quotation mark should be capitalized, EXCEPT if the quoted sentence has been split in half. Steve said, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen.“ "Good morning ladies and gentlemen," said Steve. "Ladies and gentlemen," said Steve, " good morning." Notice that the g in good morning is not capitalized because the quote has been broken in half by the speech tag.
Punctuation should go on the inside of the quotation mark. ! Steve said, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen ” , " Good morning ladies and gentlemen " said Steve , "Ladies and gentlemen " said Steve, "good morning ". Notice all the punctuation is inside quotation marks. The same would apply to question marks too.
No periods at the end of a quote unless that quote comes at the end of a sentence. Exclamation marks, question marks and commas are ok, but not periods. Ladies and gentlemen," said Steve, "good morning ". , "Good morning " said Steve. Notice how you dont ! "Good morning " said Steve. use a period in any of these examples? ? "How are you " asked Steve.
Dialogue can add a lot to your writing if you use it with purpose!