He said, she said, or what your characters are saying.

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785 views

How to write a conversation

Conversation is the thing I have most difficulties with while writing stories. How do I write a conversation so it will be clear who said what, and in a way that's not like a court transcript? Should ...
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2answers
464 views

In a dialogue, how do you write that a character says a letter?

Since I don't know how to make the title less ambiguous, I will explain myself with examples. Example 1: imagine that in a dialogue between two mathematicians, one reads aloud the following sentence ...
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2answers
486 views

What are good examples of backstory in natural dialogue?

Does anyone have good examples from modern day fiction where backstory is given to the reader in a "good" way? I'm trying to get a feel for what sounds natural in writing. In real life there are ...
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5answers
4k 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 ...
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1answer
299 views

simultaneous dialogues in novels and short fiction

Suppose that several individuals are speaking. There are two conversations occurring at once in the same place. Both are heard simultaneously by each person that is present. Each person participates ...
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453 views

How to shorten meandering dialogue?

My story Cured (which I've asked about before, but has undergone major revisions since then), has an extremely large section of dialogue that annoys my beta tester. I agree with her that it should be ...
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9answers
5k views

Is dialogue in a novel necessary, or just padding?

I can usually tell the story I want to in less than 10,000 words. I'd really like to accomplish writing a novel and I have a complex idea I want to use and explore, but I am worried I won't need ...
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3answers
618 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 ...
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3answers
2k views

Is it correct to use verbs like “sighed” and “laughed” as dialogue tags?

In other words, is it correct to write something like this: "Oh," he laughed. "Sorry, I'm not sure what's with me today." (Every time I see something like this, I think: "How is this peson ...
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3answers
3k views

How to depict Australian characters

In my working novel, a character encounters an Aussie. Having nigh-zero knowledge of how to make dialogues in an Australian accent, I just opted to describe that he talks without any hints of an ...
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4answers
577 views

Quotes or no, for Hiccup

I have a character unleash a monster hiccup in a scene. I'd like advice regarding whether or not it should be in quotes. Here's the scene, in summary "Hiccup!" Jane tried not to look embarrassed. ...
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7answers
389 views

How do you effectively develop a plot when you have a proper back story?

I'm writing a sci-fi/fantasy story, which is arguably not yet a novel, and has general similarities with most fantasy stories. I have a back story set and a fairly good idea on how the story is ...
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2answers
668 views

Conversation with Multiple Characters

I'm writing a dialogue heavy scene. The protagonist has met with a group of mercenaries that he spent a great deal of his younger days with. He doesn't come to them for a catch-up however, he has ...
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2answers
104 views

Using comma splices in dialogue

At university, it was drilled into us to avoid comma splices like the plague, but I keep seeing them in all different types of famous, best-selling novels. I read things (all in dialogue, in inverted ...
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4answers
316 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 ...
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5answers
191 views

How do I demonstrate ideological differences between characters who are politically not too different?

I'm currently writing a novel, in which two characters who are old friends are having an argument. I'm writing the argument to establish who the characters are and what their values are (the argument ...
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2answers
163 views

Referring to sign language in conversations

I am writing a story in which one of the main characters is deaf and dumb, and therefore communicates with other lead using sign language. Being not a native speaker of English, I am having trouble ...
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1answer
101 views

Stutter that changes words mid sentence

I wanted to have someone correct themselves mid-sentence, and I remembered some guides I read on the subject. They only seemed to allow only the most basic of stutters, but I want one where someone ...
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2answers
356 views

How to handle speech within speech?

If I'm writing a sentence such as: "I was talking to Alison the other day she said 'I like your shirt!'" Lisa commented. Here Lisa is quoting Alison, how should Alison's speech be punctuated? ...
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5answers
110 views

What aspects of written dialogue are important when giving characters a unique voice?

I have a project that I am working on in which I need to write quite a few fictional informal email correspondences between pairs of characters. I am not using these characters in any other context. ...
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4answers
295 views

Really Stuck: Writing Dialogue

I am currently working on my first novel so forgive me for making what is probably considered the mistake of a 'novice'. My novel is set in the present, however my antagonist has a history dating back ...
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4answers
86 views

When a character tells a long story, is it always an info dump?

I have two characters who don't get along and are sniping at each other from the moment they meet in the book. Throughout the story, they keep ramping it up. At a certain point, one character is still ...
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2answers
218 views

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

I would like to know if I'm doing something wrong (according to writing standards) in the following conversation and how to improve it to help readability, quality and feeling (making it more ...
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5answers
111 views

Where should I put a minor action within a piece of dialogue?

Which is more appropriate: The air carried a bitter chill, but was clear and unpolluted. “Oh wow,” I said. “I know how Black Friday has a reputation for crowds, but this takes it to a new ...
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3answers
2k views

How can I make a person sound sick?

How do you distort words into sounding sick, as in with the cold? I want it to be a really comical scene, but I'm not sure how to write it. Do I replace some letters with others or remove certain ...
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4answers
155 views

Filter Words in Dialog

I realize there are lists of words that writers aren't supposed to use, but does the same apply to dialog? ...
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4answers
305 views

Making characters multidimensional and unique. What can i do?

I'm writing a sci-fi/fantasy story and i have quite a number of characters that i want to deploy in the story. However, these characters should each have their own agendas in life, their own internal ...
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3answers
465 views

Writing dialogue for a non-English speaker in English?

I am writing a story that features an illiterate Indian woman. Of course, while there are things only Hindi can satisfactorily express, I was wondering what would be a good way to construct dialogues ...
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4answers
244 views

How to convey that the POV character *does not understand* what's said in dialogue?

The general advice is often to focus on the content of what's said in dialogue and just write it in the reader's language, largely whether the characters would use that language or not in-universe. ...
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1answer
86 views

How to format the following dialogue without the parenthesis?

So the protagonist's boyfriend committed suicide. He left a suicide note. And now the detective is showing it to the protagonist: "So I'm the one who made him do it? "We read the letter. ...
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2answers
104 views

What is the correct formatting for actions taken before dialogue?

What would be the correct way to format the following exchange in narrative prose? Is it: Alice sits on the bench, silent. Eventually, I speak. "What are we going to do?" After a long pause, she ...
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4answers
297 views

How to deal with cliche dialogue?

The following is from a story I'm writing: "Goodbye Choco," my mother said, to end the prayer, “may your soul rest in peace,” and crossed herself. “Sorry I couldn’t come earlier,” I said. ...
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4answers
242 views

Should I ever break up a long line of dialogue in different paragraphs?

I often second-guess myself in one particular scenario when writing dialogue. Convention says I should break different characters' lines in different lines or paragraphs (I've seen both), but what if ...
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1answer
131 views

Does dialogue always need to have its own line?

I am doing stuff like this: "That's nice," he said. We went to the car and got our laptops and logged into Stack Exchange. and He stood up and looked me in the eyes. I could tell he was ...
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2answers
98 views

Which one is the correct dialogue punctuation format?

I am writing my first novel and this the very first confusion I would like to clarify. As I am not a native English speaker, I find it very hard to understand the punctuation scheme in direct ...
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3answers
642 views

Is it unusual for a flashback to have a very long dialogue?

This flashback is from a short story I'm writing (unedited first draft): I met Limei last summer. Our class had organized a graduation trip to Green Island, where we stayed for fourteen days and ...
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5answers
124 views

Spacing out dialogue?

I'm an amateur writer. Whenever I write, I tend to put in too much dialogue and not enough story. What are some techniques I can use to space out my dialogue? Thanks in advance.
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1answer
62 views

Show the translation of foreign language thoughts in a manuscript?

Background Part of an English story takes place in rural South America, where Spanish is the native tongue. Problem A Spanish character thinks to himself. In English (i.e., in the story's native ...
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2answers
84 views

When not to use commas before dialogue (and capitals)

I'm struggling with when to omit the comma before dialogue (as well as when to use capitals) in fiction writing. My understanding is that you would omit the comma before/after something like "he says" ...
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3answers
122 views

Angry tone of voice in a question

I am writing a story about friendly lions. It all starts with this 1 friendly lion searching for nomadic lionesses. His name is Anapumua Moto. He has a cheetah friend named Duma and a leopard friend ...
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3answers
316 views

How to format multiple inner voices, differentiating the text from dialogue? and omnipresent inner voice

For the occasional use of inner voice, Italics are usually recommended. However I have a protagonist who is speaking with himself all the time, and Italics use quickly becomes tiring and ...
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1answer
69 views

Can a statement that is incorrect still characterize someone as wise?

This is a discussion I had with another writer. In a screenplay, a young man who is being led astray by a charismatic character lies to that person's wife to avoid exposing the other character's ...
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1answer
35 views

Question about punctuation and action tags

I'm new here and a new writer in general. I'm trying to get a handle on action tags and punctuation and I'm wondering about these two examples: Claire huffs out a heavy breath, then speaks. ”I ...
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2answers
136 views

Mixing dialogue and action in the same paragraph?

I know you can add dialogue to the same paragraph as an action to show who's talking, but what happens when a character is making a speech and it's broken up by actions (hand movements, looking at ...
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1answer
126 views

How do I write in the language of a strict, serious character without using too much exposition?

I am working on a series of short stories and am having trouble bringing out the characteristics of one of my characters in descriptions and in his dialogue. My story is set in South Korea. One ...
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3answers
100 views

A question about dialogue and paragraphs?

First question I've asked on here so hopefully it isn't a silly one. I am a little confused about a certain paragraph/dialogue convention I am using in something I am writing. Occasionally I have a ...
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1answer
267 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 ...
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0answers
46 views

Fallacy of relative privation? Propaganda device? Unobtrusive slander? What is it? [closed]

I've asked this on EL&U: some of the answers were close, but no cigar. I'm looking for a term that one of the characters in my play will use to describe her enemy's dirty tactics. It is a very ...
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4answers
241 views

Am I using too much dialogue?

In some of my writing, nearly every paragraph is pure dialogue, with very little exposition or description. On one hand, I feel like it flows smoothly, with little distraction, but on the other, I'm ...
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71 views

How to handle dialogue?

I have difficulties to write more than simple dialogue that still works and is readable. So, I have two options here: Try harder, read more books with lots of dialogue and learn from them and apply ...