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Dialog Grammar

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Dialog often has different rules of grammar and expectations for word choice than narration.

Example of DialogEdit

"Dialog is written like this," she said.

"That looks good."

"Yes, doesn't it?"

"Okay, but what if I break off in the middle of a sentence?" He scratched his head quizzically.

"Breaks in speech--" she frowned "--go like this, I imagine."

"Oh, one last thing. Is it 'dialog' or 'dialogue'?"

"Either one you want. 'Dialog' uses fewer letters and is easier to remember. In some countries, though-- Australia and America, for example-- the correct spelling is 'dialogue'."

"Gotcha."

They turned to look out of the computer screen. "Good luck with your writing, dear reader!"

Some Information on DialogEdit

Essentially, dialog (or dialogue) is verbal interactions between two or more characters. Many writers have different styles in writing dialog, though, it must follow the same general principles.

Commonly in America, dialog is enclosed between two quotes: "..." and dialog within dialog (for example, a character telling a story within his dialog) is written with an apostrophe: "And he said to me, 'blah'!" In England, this rule is sometimes in reversed. In other languages, dialog is indicated in other ways, such as a dash in front of a paragraph beginning with something a character has said.

(Outside of dialog, parenthesis work the same way. If you want to say something besides the matter, it is usually enclosed in parenthesis- but if you want to say something besides the matter while dealing with parenthesis, you use brackets within them [my cat is amazing!].)

As discussed above, breaks in dialog are normally stopped and continued after a piece of description. For example,

"I wonder," he scratched his head absentmindedly, sighing, "if I can have some toast today."

This is a different style of writing dialog which accomplishes the same thing that is listed in the above section.

Dialog is a helpful tool in writing believable stories- only master storytellers can write a truly good story with no dialog whatsoever- a lack of dialog will generally bore the reader or confuse them. However, there are many different styles of writing that dialog is effected by. For example, some stories are almost entirely dialog-driven, with almost no description. This style is commonly used by playwrights and children's authors.

However, some styles have very little dialog and are driven by action and description.

Find a style that suits you, and let the dialog of the characters flow through your fingers as you write. It is very hard to write dialog before finishing a character's development, as his dialog will be effected by his personality. After designing a character, try to imagine what his voice sounds like before writing his dialog. Hearing his voice in your head, and hearing him speak the words for you, will help you write dialog.

Another thing to consider when writing dialog is the character's possible accent, the setting of his life, and his upbringing. For instance, a character who lives in modern times usually won't use a word such as "thou." Characters with less presentable childhoods might curse more than others, and a character who is from one country will not speak the same as one from another country, even if he does speak the same language. This is all part of writing realistic dialogue.

ResourcesEdit

  • Original Writerium Article[1]

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