Presentation on theme: "Formatting Dialogue Rules: Dos & Don’ts. This is a sample of Dialogue formatting “What do we do now?” Shadows from the single candle flickered on Heather’s."— Presentation transcript:
Formatting Dialogue Rules: Dos & Don’ts
This is a sample of Dialogue formatting “What do we do now?” Shadows from the single candle flickered on Heather’s face. It masked the basement smell with green apple. She rolled her eyes at me. “Nothing, Kristy. Just wait.” I sighed. I was sick of waiting. My arms, and my butt, were starting to hurt. I drummed my fingers impatiently on the plastic pointer thingy. “Stop it,” Heather hissed. “You’ll make them mad.” “Make who mad?” “The spirits, stupid.” Right. The spirits. Like I really believed the spirits were going to talk to us on a piece of Parker Brothers cardboard.
What Dialogue Looks Like Use a comma between the dialogue and the tag line (the words used to identify the speaker: "he said/she said") – "I would like to go to the beach this weekend," she told Periods and commas go inside the quotation marks; other punctuation -- semicolons, question marks, dashes, and exclamation points -- goes outside unless it directly pertains to the material within the quotes. – "I don't want any stupid cake," says the guy who goes to Europe and the Middle East. "Where's the champagne?" he says, and laughs. – In the next example, the question mark goes outside the quotation marks because it is not part of the material being quoted: – Did he say, ‘We should all go to the movies’?
What Dialogue Looks Like When a tag line interrupts a sentence, it should be set off by commas. Note that the first letter of the second half of the sentence is in lower case. – "That is," Wesley said, "that neither you nor me is her boy..." To signal a quotation within a quotation, use single quotes. – "Have you read 'Hills Like White Elephants' yet?" he asked her. For interior dialogue (when they are talking in their heads), italics are appropriate, just be consistent. – How can I be so stupid, wondered Shelly.
What Dialogue Looks Like If a quotation spills out over more than one paragraph, don't use end quotes at the close of the first paragraph. Use them only when a character is done speaking. “Ok, but let’s say for argument sake you are completely wrong. What if all he wants is for you to do his homework while he just sits back and listens to music? I mean, then he is just using you Jill. Don’t be an idiot.” Maureen said as she flipped through her magazine.
Dialogue Dos It should follow some simple grammatical rules. Dialogue should be enclosed within quotation marks. Each new line of dialogue is indented, and a new paragraph should be started every time a new person is speaking. It should be concise. Long, wordy passages of dialogue might seem like a good way to get information across, but they can be tedious for the reader. It should communicate character information. Good dialogue lets the reader know something about the person speaking it. It should be broken up with action. People don’t typically stop everything when they talk. They fidget. They keep washing the dishes. They pace. Don’t forget that your characters aren’t static. ← “I am the ‘tab key.’ I need you to use me when you begin paragraphs and dialogue. Please don’t forget me.”
Dialogue Don’ts Don’t get too crazy with dialogue tags. Usually, a few well-placed “he said” or “she replied” will do the trick. If your dialogue is well- written, it should be clear who is speaking, even without the tags. Don’t go overboard with backstory. You should never use dialogue to tell the readers things your characters already know. Don’t use too much dialogue. Your readers don’t need to know everything your characters say, word-for-word. Dialogue should be chosen carefully. Don’t try to be too realistic. Our actual speech wouldn’t make great dialogue. We say “um” and “uh” a lot. We trail off in the middle of sentences. We change subjects without warning. Good dialogue should approximate real speech, not mimic it.