I'm a novice writer working on my first book. I've made the story 1st person from the perspective of the main character. The way I've been writing dialog goes as such:

C1: "So, where are you guys eating today? I said."

C2: "We're probably going to the Italian place down the street", C2 responded.

Is this the correct way of doing this or is there a more official way?

  • 4
    You'll find any amount of advice on dialogue here, on other websites and in books on writing, and really none of it changes in first-person narratives.
    – J.G.
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 14:15
  • Thanks for the comments everyone. Actually helped alot now that I'm in college Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 14:37

4 Answers 4


Try looking at how it's done in good first person novels. ("The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler comes to mind.)

You need to escape the he said / she said trap with direct speech by making it obvious who is talking. Eg.

If I asked him now I would know if I could put my evil plan into action.

-- "So, where are you guys eating today?"

C2 looked at me and shrugged.

-- "We're, probably, going to the Italian place down the street."

-- "Again? You must really like that waitress."

-- "She's pretty, but it's actually the lasagne I go for."

I looked at the clock. If he left now I could hide the bomb and still get a burger at the deli on the corner before it went off.


Since the only thing I notice wrong with this example is the punctuation, I assume this is what you are asking about.

Punctuate your POV characters dialogue the same way you punctuate other dialogue.

"So, where are you guys eating today?" I said.

"We're, probably, going to the Italian place down the street," C2 responded.

  • 1
    Dude thanks, I've been writing it like that the whole time 🤦‍♂️ Commented May 5, 2019 at 20:02

Go with whatever you like, there shouldn't be such strict rules. Just remember to keep the punctuation within the quotation marks, and place your quotation marks in the right place. Remember punctuation is there to help the reader. So as long as the reader is down with whatever is happening. Your pretty much sweet.

The C1: and C2: you can keep to help your writing, but I would find it not necessary for the reader, when you finish the work.

Good luck in your writing.

  • 1
    Punctuation within the quotation marks is an American thing. Brits and some others put it outside the quotes. So do it however is correct for the dialect of English you are using.
    – Cyn
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 19:19

Answer: In dialog, cut out every instance of the word "I" that you possibly can.

We have a writer in our weekly group who has at least one "I" in every 20 words. It is the most annoying thing to read. We tell her every week how tired it makes us--I this, I that. You don't need it. "I" don't want to see it. Kill as many I's as possible.

Read the below blog, take notes, and do a google search for others:


You have a challenge. In a first person narrative, you cannot go back and forth between 'he said' and 'Bob said.' You can't say "Trevor said" since Trevor is the person telling the story. You will, therefore, have twice the challenge a third-person narrator has, to avoid taxing the reader with a single word "I" (he).

Fortunately, there are other writers who have sorted this out for you. They have figured out the tricks.

Find them online or in books. Read published first person narrative and take note. In the meantime, surf around and see how people handle this challenge.

Good luck.

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