D … is for dialogue


is for dialogue. We’ll take a brief look, at five aspects of today’s topic.


1. Direct speech.

This is the most commonly used means of conveying information, and producing conversation between characters.

“It really depends on house style, and your market place,” Tom said.

“Yes,” Jane agreed. “I suppose you’re right.”


2. Indirect speech.

We use this technique to avoid a long drawn out piece of dialogue.

“It really does depend on house style, and your market place,” Tom said, before going on for five minutes to explain a variety of points on the subject.

Jane listened and nodded, realising just how deep a subject it was.


3. Dialogue tags.

Examples: said, screamed, called, shouted, cried, exclaimed.

We don’t have to use a fancy word, when ‘said’ is the easiest to use, is the least obtrusive, and does the job. Don’t use a big word, because you might send your reader looking for a dictionary. Use something more descriptive if the scene benefits from it.

Keep dialogue short, sharp, and believable. It will keep the story moving forward, and it sounds natural. Try breaking up your dialogue with a tag in mid-sentence; which is something I do often.

“I’ve used it extensively in my novels,” Tom said. “It sounds natural, and allows the reader to take a breath.”


4. Thoughts.

When a character has a thought, it does not have quotation marks. They are thinking about it; not saying it.


5. Dialect.

This is one of my pet hates. I’m a Glaswegian. For anyone not of British descent, it means I’m originally from Glasgow, in Scotland. Allow me to demonstrate typical dialect from my hometown. It’s how I used to speak before I left home.

Billy said: “Ah telt ‘im ee’ wisnae gonnae geh’ ennae. Ee’ telt me tae piss aff ‘n mine ma’ ain bizniz.”

“Yurr takin’ thu pish,” Jimmy replied. “Ah’d a’ smakt ‘um in thu’ mooth.”

What is dialect? It’s not everyday language; it is the broad, colloquial tongue of a region or district. It is tedious to write, and awful to read. Why is it a pet hate of mine? It should only be done if the entire story is done in that style, or, if it’s the way a single character speaks at all times.

I’ve seen it in so many stories where the writer has changed back and forward from regular English language to regional dialect and back again, with one character. The character should speak one way or the other.

Thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘E’.