Questions tagged [dialogue]

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

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27 votes
10 answers
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What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript?

What's the best way to show a character speaking a foreign language in a fiction manuscript? Should the foreign words be italicized and include a translation? Should it just be included in the ...
Ralph Gallagher's user avatar
22 votes
5 answers
6k 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?
RolandiXor's user avatar
19 votes
7 answers
3k views

Alternatives to "he said" in dialogue

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. ...
Jay's user avatar
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12 votes
5 answers
2k 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 ...
Ido Tamir's user avatar
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20 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
Jay's user avatar
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30 votes
9 answers
7k views

How to avoid constantly starting paragraphs with "The character did this" "The character did that"?

This is one of the tics I've noticed in my writing recently, and it's starting to bug me. Almost every single one of my paragraphs, particularly during dialogue sequences, starts with "The ...
F1Krazy's user avatar
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16 votes
6 answers
7k 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 ...
srcspider's user avatar
  • 550
16 votes
8 answers
7k views

How do I make an ESL character sound realistic?

I have to write an assignment in which there's an English character talking with a English as a Second Language (ESL) character. It is turning out really, really badly. I have a general idea of what ...
Ice-9's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
704 views

What is generally the accepted format style for telepathic communication in the midst of verbal communication?

At this point in my story, it's already been revealed that 2 characters share a telepathic link with one another that allows them to communicate to each other with their minds. "Now before we ...
Memor-X's user avatar
  • 1,032
32 votes
10 answers
10k views

How to write dialogue for someone who is intelligent but barely speaks the language?

I have a character who is a refugee from another country. She comes to the protagonist, and they have a couple of scenes together, viewed from the protagonist. I read about how important it is to ...
KeizerHarm's user avatar
12 votes
12 answers
21k 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 75,...
johntait.org's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
11k views

Writing slurred speech

One of my characters gets drunk and accidentally kills another. He has a couple of lines where he needs to sound obnoxiously, falling-down drunk. Is there a good way to accomplish this? What sounds ...
user avatar
11 votes
5 answers
2k 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 ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
11 votes
8 answers
3k 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?
TheIrishGuy's user avatar
4 votes
5 answers
487 views

Punctuating Thoughts

Following my question here I am still unsure if it is a 'hard and fast' rule to italicise thoughts. My preference is to use normal quotation marks, so that if a person is thinking in a dialogue ...
Javeer Baker's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
824 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. ...
user's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
412 views

Screenplay dialogue tags for unintroduced characters

I am writing a screenplay for a TV show in which a character who will become important later in the series has a line of dialogue in the opening scene. However, he is offscreen and will not be ...
laurenj's user avatar
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40 votes
7 answers
29k views

How do I say that a character said something without resorting to "said Character" every time?

I have one big problem with my writing - when I'm doing dialogue, I find myself writing it and following it with "said Character" quite a lot. I can mix it up sometimes by using a synonym or ...
Zibbobz's user avatar
  • 1,005
20 votes
7 answers
18k 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?...
HNL's user avatar
  • 817
18 votes
9 answers
4k views

Referencing modern pop culture in science fiction

A geek today is quite likely to reference the pop culture of 30 years ago: "Do or do not, there is no try", "Beam me up, Scotty" and "Ground control to Major Tom" are easily and commonly recognisable. ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
15 votes
10 answers
3k views

I'm writing a prologue from the POV of a non-English-speaking character. How should I write the dialogue?

Picturing this in movie form would be easy. I would have the character speak their native language in the scene and place subtitles. But I do not have this luxury in writing. It would be weird to ...
Drask's user avatar
  • 163
12 votes
3 answers
817 views

How to give characters a unique voice

When writing dialogue all the characters sound the same. I'm not sure I even know what giving a character a voice means, but my dialogue sucks so any advice will be greatly appreciated.
pandalarry's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
476 views

Colloquial speech in pre-modern setting

Following this question, I'm struggling with writing the speech of pre-modern (in my case - 5th century) noble-born children among themselves. Characters who are well-educated would not be making ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
3k views

Background speech with foreground dialogue

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an issue of the type; meaning I had two characters talking between themselves and another character talking in the background; actually delivering a speech. What the ...
Jerry's user avatar
  • 269
8 votes
1 answer
298 views

How to write a discussion amongst 5 people while narrating a novel as first person singular?

I am writing an autobiographical novel and there is a scene where 5 people will be discussing a subject matter. Now, how can I write the discussion without making it sound like a newbie like I want to ...
user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
8k views

Showing that a character is in pain in a dialogue

Do you add pauses? Do you add interjection? Which ones? Do you misspell certain words? What are some of the tricks writers use? I don't want to say it in the descriptive passage. I want people to feel ...
Sayaman's user avatar
  • 14.8k
6 votes
1 answer
763 views

Dash and space usage for dialogue interruptions, stuttering, starting over

I'm hoping for guidance on several very similar situations, which I suspect are all meant to be punctuated and spaced differently. Stuttering How would you write someone stuttering out the word "...
Domenic's user avatar
  • 203
28 votes
4 answers
6k views

How do we handle pauses in a dialogue?

How do we handle pauses in a dialogue? Let's say that character A speaks and then after a pause character A speaks again. How should we separate the two moments, should we write two lines of ...
Sayaman's user avatar
  • 14.8k
19 votes
7 answers
112k 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, ...
Joe Z.'s user avatar
  • 589
19 votes
11 answers
7k 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 ...
Yehuda Shapira's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Kit Z. Fox's user avatar
  • 1,985
14 votes
4 answers
21k 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 ...
Yehuda Shapira's user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

How can I write complex and believable characters?

How do I write characters that are more grounded, complex and believable so that readers can resonate with them and makes my novel more compelling? How should I elaborate their dialogues and actions ...
Ishan2077's user avatar
  • 476
11 votes
8 answers
33k views

Is it permissible to write a short story with little or no dialogue?

We are writing a short story based on the antagonist in our novel, a sort of extended back story if you will. We are now three chapers in and still have not found the need to introduce any dialogue. ...
KD Novels's user avatar
  • 543
10 votes
9 answers
982 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 ...
Steven Drennon's user avatar
6 votes
5 answers
18k 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" ...
tylerharms's user avatar
  • 1,028
6 votes
3 answers
184 views

Is it acceptable to punctuate and capitalize a dialogue tag like a separate sentence?

When a piece of writing has a quoted sentence followed by a dialogue tag, the sentence is usually ended with a comma (inside the quotation marks) and the dialogue tag is in sentence case, like this: &...
Tanner Swett's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
Gottfried William's user avatar
4 votes
5 answers
1k views

How can I write an annoying character without annoying the reader?

My story has a group of five refugees traveling across the kingdom. One of them is preachy and pretty much useless (unused to physical labor, trying to convert the heathens in the group). She's ...
user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

Dialogue from a distance

How do I indicate dialogue 'from a distance'? Two characters and riding down a field on a quad bike, one asks a question of the other, who answers. They're visible but you can't see their lips move. ...
Hallam Woolfre's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
Nimrod's user avatar
  • 133
2 votes
1 answer
209 views

Realistically writing culture shock for this character?

I wanted help writing a character for my setting. Basically, in this story I’m writing, I have a character named Christina. Basically, she lived in an underground bunker, in a post-apocalyptic world, ...
DT Cooper's user avatar
  • 207
0 votes
4 answers
208 views

Characters' tone/pitch in dialogue

How does one go about showing a characters tone/pitch while talking? For example, if someone said something that someone else doesn't believe and they reacted like: bullsHIIt or whaAATt Where the ...
Unknown Brain's user avatar
20 votes
8 answers
3k views

How realistic should dialogue and character voices be?

I've heard a lot of conflicting suggestions in the past regarding dialogue, so I'm hoping I can get a solid answer here. Some people have told me that the best way to go about dialogue is to make it ...
Summer's user avatar
  • 1,485
17 votes
8 answers
4k views

How can one write good dialogue in a story without sounding wooden?

I began an assignment to write a short story for a Creative Writing submission to a publication and although it was accepted, I found that I struggled with the addition of dialogue to this first-...
Thimble's user avatar
  • 197
15 votes
10 answers
2k 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 ...
Steven Drennon's user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
13k views

Writing "hahaha" versus describing the laugh

When posting an excerpt of my book on a critiquing site, someone commented on my use of "hahaha" inside the dialogue instead of just having a laughing verb after or before it. They said it ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,033
14 votes
7 answers
949 views

Breaking up a talky piece of writing

Dialogue is my favorite thing to write. I tend to use a lot of dialogue in my writing, which sometimes results in long, talky passages -- a bit similar to this question about breaking up exposition. ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.4k
13 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why is there such strong objection to the use of said-bookisms?

I am surprised by the vehemence of many writers' objection to said-bookisms -- the practice of using a verb other than "said" or "asked" in order to convey dialog. Writers are told you can't hiss an ...
Richard Stanzak's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Ending a line of dialogue with "?!": Allowed or obnoxious?

A dialogue of mine contains the following sentence: "You fired all three of them?!" Trouble is, I'm not sure I've ever seen a novel that used a question mark and an exclamation point together - it'...
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