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6
votes
4answers
5k views

Must every piece of speech get its own paragraph?

I've had a few people read pieces of narrative writing I've done, and they seem to take issue with the fact that I sometimes put a piece of speech inline with the rest of a non-dialogue paragraph, ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

avoiding making all your characters sound the same

We surely all have little quirks to our speech. Like my daughter once criticized my writing for using the word "surely" too much. (See, I used it on this post.) So how do you keep all your characters ...
10
votes
6answers
703 views

alternatives to “he said” in dialog

I'm working on my first fiction story. And one mechanical thing I struggle with is how to identify the speakers in dialog without constantly saying "Bob said", "Mary said", etc. Any ideas? That is, I ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Using dashes in writing dialogue

Does anyone use em dashes (or two hyphens) to denote speakers in dialogue passages? Joyce does this as does William Gaddis. Many others. I practice it, but my only "conceptual understanding" is that ...
11
votes
2answers
585 views

Striking the balance between dialogue and narrative

I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. I have never in my life written so much of a single story. Although I am supposed to tell my inner editor to shut up this month, she is ...
4
votes
3answers
320 views

Deciding whether to use a dialogue tag or an action tag in a dialogue

Example: "I'm not saying you don't know what you are talking about," he said, then looked at her and shrugged his shoulders. "But I don't know what you are talking about." "I'm not saying ...
7
votes
3answers
310 views

Is going 'off-topic' a sign of bad dialogue?

I always wondered if going off-topic in a dialogue is a bad or a normal thing. For example, let's say I'm writing a novel where the main theme is love and loss. Is it bad if the characters start ...
1
vote
2answers
656 views

Is this dialogue and situation intriguing (short story)?

This is the continuation of a story I mentioned in a previous story. I would like to know if the reader would feel intrigued by the dialogue and situation (a girl who seems to be a stripper is lying ...
1
vote
0answers
176 views

Parenthetical phrases within dialog [closed]

I'm curious about the history and use of parenthetical phrases within dialog. I offer two contrasting examples: An example of an "unvoiced" parenthetical phrase inside dialog from Pride and ...
5
votes
3answers
198 views

How to plan dialog and keep it on track?

When I'm writing a plotline, it often works out that I know two characters will be meeting each other in a particular scene, and that they will converse. And I oftentimes know the central idea of what ...
0
votes
2answers
205 views

How to improve the ending of my short novel (mostly dialogue)? [closed]

In a previous question, I asked about how to improve the opening of my short novel. The following is the ending: "Can I talk about something that makes me feel strange?" he asked while searching ...
2
votes
1answer
210 views

Does there have to be a difference when writing different genders? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The opposite sex in first person? How to write realistic female dialogue Is there an inherent difference in how man and women speak that would translate to writing ...
8
votes
5answers
492 views

How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech?

I was starting to leave a comment on this excellent question when I realized I had come up with a second question which was equally intriguing. If you're writing a story where 95% of the ...
8
votes
2answers
443 views

How does one include sign language in a dialogue?

If one character is using sign language and lip reading while the other is speaking normally, how do you represent the lines of the former? Quotations with "he signed" attribution or italics? E.g. ...
3
votes
4answers
237 views

Attributives in dialogue

I normally stick with "he said" and "she said" to keep things simple and transparent to the reader but wondering about questions. Is "she asked" and "he asked" appropriate when a character asks a ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

How to create varying, yet realistic, speech patterns

Different characters speak differently. If someone reads me a letter written by an immediate relative, I can tell right away who wrote it. I believe --and correct me if I'm wrong-- that giving each ...
9
votes
9answers
1k views

How to write realistic female dialogue

I just can't make my dialogue sound like it's being said by a woman. As a friend of mine pointed out, "This woman talks just like you, Jack." I tried imitating the speech patterns of various females ...
3
votes
3answers
554 views

How to write English in Merlin (TV Series) style?

I find the writing style of the show Merlin to be very good, and much better than current/modern English usage. Details about the show can be found at IMDB's Merlin page, and Wikipedia's entry about ...
6
votes
4answers
484 views

How can I accurately represent young adult dialogue?

There was a recent question that caused quite a stir around here, not so much for the question itself, but more the purpose of the question. That aside, there was a valid question being asked, and it ...
1
vote
1answer
310 views

How can I write dialog to express groveling?

How can you write dialog where someone is groveling? I'm thinking of something like this: "Why were you late for work? Explain yourself." "Sorry" The response would be the person ...
7
votes
8answers
956 views

Dialogue writing practices?

First time novelist, long time writer here. I'm looking for creative writing exercises to help with my dialogue. Any ideas?
7
votes
6answers
350 views

How can I break up a lengthy explanation?

I have a setting in one of my stories where a character has to describe a very long series of events, giving the history of an object so that others know more about it. This not only provides the ...
6
votes
4answers
286 views

Is it always ok to use the verb “to say” after a question?

Does it sound strange to use the verb "to say" after a question? For example: "'Why is it called a memorial?' said Laura." If I were to have written this, I would have used "asked" instead. Am I ...
4
votes
2answers
137 views

How do you reference pop culture in a dialogue without proper attribution?

I'm not sure exactly how to ask this question in a vacuum so I'll give an example first: Many people are familiar with the Mitch Hedberg joke about an escalator being "temporarily stairs" rather than ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

I'm getting tired of “he said” “she said” in dialogue; how do I get around it?

I get tired of "he said", "she said", "they replied". Is there a better, but still reasonable way, to indicate dialogue?
9
votes
3answers
282 views

Conlang question

Diving (OK, dove) into conlanging for a novel I'm working on. The Conlang is atmospheric and allows for some subplot intrigue, but it's not absolutely essential to the story. I've got basic grammar, ...
10
votes
4answers
375 views

How do you avoid the problem of all the characters in your story sounding the same?

There's a common flaw that I can easily detect in amateur writing, (and of course my own) which essentially boils down to all the characters "sounding the same", dialogue-wise anyway. Trying to ...
5
votes
4answers
248 views

What is the Priority in an Action/Adventure Novel: Dialogues or Conflict?

I am currently working on a novel and I was having some trouble finding the best solution for this question. I understand that both dialogues and conflicts are needed in a good proportion to cook a ...
5
votes
4answers
246 views

Meretricious - A bit too fancy?

I have a character that I want to sound very intelligent, well educated, someone who always uses the correct words with no unnecessary filler. I have found the word 'meretricious' which has the ...
2
votes
2answers
167 views

First conversation scenes I've written (looking for errors, conventions, and improvements according to writting standards).

Basically, I would like to know if I'm doing something wrong (according to witting standards) in the following conversation and how to improve it to help readability, quality and feeling (making it ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Dialog, just what's the best way to write it?

I've come across the following conventions: "What’s this for?" asked Jake. Sue replied, "None of your business." He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it looks darned funny sitting here." "It’s ...
8
votes
5answers
802 views

How should dialog be formatted?

Is there any "official" rule that I should keep in mind when formatting character dialog? Line breaks, placement of quotes, mixing dialog with action descriptions etc. For example, I want to build a ...