Tag Archives: Conversation

Let’s Do Dialogue Convention…

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Quotation marks
Image via Wikipedia

If you’re anything like me, I had no idea what dialogue convention was.  To put it simply, it is what we as readers are used to with dialogue, looking and performing a certain way. It is “rules of dialogue.”

1.  quotation marks signal to the reader some one is speaking.  “Martha, I read the best book last night.  It was wonderful.”  Sometimes you will see writers use different punctuation from single quotation marks to brackets.  Unless you have a very good reason for not following convention, it is recommended you do not vary.

2. Dialogue dictates one paragraph per speaker, no matter how short the speech.  It makes it easier to follow the flow of the conversation.

3.  Speech tags are used so the reader can know who is doing the talking.  Most of the time we see, he/she said.  Speech tags help the reader to gather his bearings, the way commas indicate a pause.  Most of the time readers do not even notice you have use  he/she said, unless you’ve used the word a thousand times.  Readers have said the words become invisible.  You just don’t pay any attention to them.  You do not have to use speech tags with every line if the reader is aware of exactly who is doing the talking.

If you had made it clear, Jack and Jill were the only people in the room, then their conversation would not have to have a tag with each line.

As a writer there are certain expectations we have to meet in our writing for John Q Public to accept it.  It is also a fact, that writers tend to push the envelope and not pay attention to conventional thinking.  Sometimes it works and at other times it doesn’t.

This video shows the importance of using conventions when writing.  It mainly deals with grammar, but it is still writing conventions.

http://youtu.be/DZYIbqew7YU

Get Realistic

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I’m going to discuss dialogue a little further.  I believe a lot of people believe dialogue is easy to write.  I for one don’t think it is.  You are supposed to keep it realistic, but not make it exactly how we talk.  We can’t use all the um’s, that’s, you know, ect.

Writing use to have a formal more formal dialogue.  Now we tend to try to write closer to a natural conversation.  The best way to get a feel for realistic dialogue is listening to someone’s conversation with another person.  Yes, you will have to ease drop, but it could be fun.  The dialogue we write for fiction has to have more umph, focus and relevance to it than a normal conversation, so it is not boring to the reading.  Use contractions whenever possible. We have to get to the point of the conversation much quicker.  Your dialogue needs to show your characters and what emotion

  • Do not use dialogue simply to convey information. Dialogue should set the scene, advance action, give insight into characterization, remind the reader, and foreshadow. Dialogue should always be doing many things at once.
  • Dialogue can have grammatical errors, but you do have to keep the characters voice in mind and keep it readable.  You do not want it to sound as if you are giving a speech, unless that’s what your character is doing.

    Word choice tells a reader a lot about a person: appearance, ethnicity, sexuality, background, and morality. Pick your words carefully because you are conveying lots of information about your character.

  • Todays video is on writing dialogue for plays, but it gives some good advice which can be applied to any genre.  Enjoy
  • http://youtu.be/TZXcQemh8n8