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I would like to edit all of the dialogue of a specific character in my book. Then I want to repeat this for other characters. I think this would help to give each of them a unique voice. Of course I could mark the dialogue with different colors in the manuscript, but then I also still have all the other dialogues inbetween.

Ideally, I can extract only the dialogue and edit it. And then it should automatically edit it across the book.

Does a tool like that exist?

  • The only idea i have is if your on a computer use the find function "ctrl-f" on windows at least. and type in the name of that character, but this only works if you always use their name with every dialogue. i dont really know of any other ideas. – Elias Rowan Albatross Mar 7 '19 at 18:46
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    Would using "Styles" in Word help? They may not look different, but you could then filter things to only show the Fred Style? – April Salutes Monica C. Mar 7 '19 at 20:03
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    Important details to answer this would include: Do you need to maintain formatting from existing documents, or is plain-text okay? Do you need to work with an existing file format? Do you want a tool that would work on existing doc as it is, or would you be happy manually moving sections to a new system piece by piece? [Not sure how you would get around this last one anyway] – TheLuckless Mar 7 '19 at 20:38
  • If you're using Ulysses you may use their search for annotations feature. If you annotate each dialogue with the character name or a key, you can quickly extract only the dialogue spoken by that character. Please, let me know if this is a viable option for you and I can expand in an answer. – iamtowrite Mar 12 '19 at 5:25
  • Would you provide more details about your writing tool? What software are you using on what platform? – iamtowrite Mar 13 '19 at 16:44
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You can do this in Scrivener, which comes highly recommended for writers but has a steep learning curve, particularly because it compiles MSs in a variety of formats on completion, rather than formatting as you go along.

In Scrivener, you could colour the dialogue of each of your characters, select your entire project, go into Scrivenings view and do a Find By Formatting, Revision Colour.

This would show you every instance of one character's dialogue with each Find iteration.

Then, when the MS is finished and you come to compile, there's an option in Scrivener to remove all text colour. So, you can keep your draft with all your coloured dialogue, but output a Word or PDF or whatever without it.

Side Note:

A two or three-way conversation could get messy with colours and become time consuming to set up.

I find it easier to make the decision at the start, figure out my character's voice and stick to that as I'm writing. For example, I have a character with a very distinct way of speaking and, whenever I'm typing his dialogue, I hear it in my head in his accent. I also read it out loud in his accent, when it's a long portion of dialogue, to make sure it sounds right.

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+100

In addition to Scrivener (in GGx's answer), you can achieve this in Ulysses as well. Here is how:

  1. Write your dialogue, for instance the dialogue from The HHGTG:
'Drink up,' said Ford, 'you've got three pints to get through.'

'Three pints?" said Arthur. 'At lunchtime?'
  1. The author would surround Ford's pieces with {} then give it a known tag, as such:
{'Drink up,'} said Ford, {'you've got three pints to get through.'}

The squigglies would trigger a popup to open where the author would indicate that Ford is speaking:

enter image description here 3. To show all dialogue one would open the search by pressing +F (notice that I added annotations for Arthur as well):

enter image description here

  1. Later on, if the author needs to change what Ford says, he could use the search feature as follows:

enter image description here

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