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

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435 views

Putting a dialogue a tag before a quote

Sometimes I see stuff like this: X said, "..." "..." X did this, and then said, "..." Is it used to just vary sentence structure? Or to make dialogue more readable or smoother in certain ...
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3answers
923 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
507 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 ...
4
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2answers
585 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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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
351 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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474 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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3answers
627 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
650 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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2answers
113 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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7answers
396 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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5answers
227 views

How would a knight act around a princess?

In my current book, the main character is a knight and in one of the beginning scenes, he interacts with the princess. He's intimidated because of who she is (royalty) and acts very formal around her ...
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2answers
761 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 ...
3
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2answers
113 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
328 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
202 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
184 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
112 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 ...
3
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2answers
387 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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2answers
63 views

Transcibing a fictional pictograph based language

I'm a fresh pup to this site and I have a bit of a quagmire at my fingertips. My novel takes place in a dystopian future approximately half a century from the modern day. Consumerism and promotional ...
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2answers
55 views

Handling small bits of background story

I have a scene in which two characters are introduced to the reader. They met once before at a party, prior to the start of the story. In the following excerpt, I add a short explanation of that first ...
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3answers
79 views

Internal Dialog - First or Second Person

I'm writing a story in third person. When writing internal dialog, should I use first person or second person? Does it matter? Should I be consistent in the entire story? Should I be consistent for a ...
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5answers
116 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
305 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
129 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
222 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
3k 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
166 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
320 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 ...
2
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3answers
511 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 ...
2
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4answers
258 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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4answers
121 views

What is the best practice for writing a character that speaks with a whistle lisp?

For a character that whistles when pronouncing the "s" sound, how can I write in the lisp effectively? I tried using multiple "S"s, but it reads as a snake-like sound, which I don't want since there ...
2
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1answer
88 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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4answers
304 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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2answers
83 views

How to convey (screaming) hysterics in dialogue

It happens to most if not all of us. Something extremely emotional happens to us and we're just hysterical. Logic doesn't work. You contemplate punching a wall because that will help . . . somehow. ...
2
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4answers
286 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 ...
2
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1answer
149 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 ...
2
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2answers
107 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
689 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
125 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.
2
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1answer
85 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
105 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
146 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 ...
2
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3answers
395 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 ...
2
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1answer
70 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
21 views

Formatting a Story Teller's Dialog

I'm writing a short story in which a story teller (the possibly-historic Aesop) addresses an audience. He tells his short story (within my short story), after which I will describe dialog between him ...
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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 ...