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Tip of The Day #14: Let's Talk About Dialogue

The definition of dialogue is, "conversation, or an exchange of ideas." The purpose of dialogue in a story is to help develop an understanding of the characters and advance the plot. Here are a few of the elements of writing good dialogue. 

First, use the proper punctuation so that the reader understands that a conversation, rather than narrative, is taking place. Double quotation marks (") are used at the beginning and end of a sentence in the US. In the UK a single quotation mark is used ( ' ) . 

There may be a character who makes two short statements that , in a real conversation , would be said with a short pause. When written, it is necessary to enclose each part of the sentence with quotation marks to help the reader pause while indicating that the same person is speaking.  For example: " I love your gown," Mary told Jane, "and it looks beautiful with your coloring."

State clearly what is being said by whom. As mentioned above, you should indicate who is speaking, whether inserted into a compound sentence or used with rapid dialogue. A succession of one line sentences set off by quotation marks will be confusing to the reader unless there is an indication every other sentence or so stating who is speaking.

Balance the light and dark space on the page. There is a commonly held belief that readers don't like large blocks of script, referred to as "dark space". In trying to avoid too much dark space, avoid going to the other extreme and writing large blocks of dialogue.

Print out a few pages of your manuscript. If there is too much white space, nothing is happening; it's all just talk.