Dialogue is always a new paragraph. It belongs on the next line, indented and preceded by an open quote. When dialogue for the first person is completed, it needs a closed quote. When the next character speaks, follow the same pattern.
“How dare you accuse me of being suspicious of Amanda! She and I have been friends since kindergarten! I’ve always trusted her!”
“Heather, everyone knows how much you can’t stand Amanda. You’ve never cared about her! If you and she are friends, I’d hate to see how you treat family.”
Dialogue has a purpose. It’s not placed in writing to provide filler or small talk. Your character is speaking to reveal something to you, the reader. It is used to demonstrate character personalities during their interactions with each other and the adventures you send them on.
Do not repeat dialogue. If a character reveals something to one character, do not have that character or any other character repeat it. Whatever detail has been revealed, the reader now knows. It doesn’t need to be repeated.
Also, do not use dialogue to describe a scene that has already been narrated. (i.e., You describe a bank robbery in detail. Say your character was present during the bank robbery. Do not have your character now describe the bank robbery in detail to another character. The reader already was present during the robbery. While the character can express the stress and fear associated with the robbery, to go back into the same detail used during narration, is redundant).
Don’t try to be too fancy with accents, speech impediments, and diction. While it sounds great in our head, it can potentially be confusing to your reader. Certain accents and dictions could be difficult to execute and may disinterest your reader.
Use dialogue tags or creative ways to let the reader know who is talking. Utilize transitions or names, so the reader can follow what is going on. Also, too many characters engaging in dialogue can potentially be confusing to the reader. This could disinterest them and prevent them from further reading.
Ensure your dialogue is realistic. When you have life altering situations occurring in your story, is the character(s) responding or reacting appropriately? Does their reaction or response move the reader? Is it flat? Is it consistent with their personality?
Perform your dialogue out loud. The auditory reinforcement allows you to capture the proper emotion required for dialogue. Does the response or reaction require exclamation points, questions marks, or a period.
The goal to capture the proper emotion and character personality. Be consistent with this method and eventually, your story should be completed.
Repeat, until your manuscript is complete!
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I believe in you!
ERIN N. SIMON
Inspired, In-Spirit Publishing