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Do Your Own » Dialogue

Using dialogue — letting the characters in your narrative speak — will make your story more engaging and will help advance the special point you wish to make in your story.

When you quote spoken words or want to show dialogue, use quotation marks to enclose each speaker's words, and start a new paragraph each time the speaker changes. This will help your reader see who is speaking.

Here's an example of how to format dialogue:


    Howard could contain himself no longer. "Harriet writes poems about stars!"
    "Why it's lovely, Harriet dear!" Mrs. Kator said. "I think it's really lovely, honestly. I don't see why you're so shy about it for."
    "There you see, Harriet?" Mrs. Lennon said. "Mrs. Kator thinks your poetry is very nice. Now aren't you sorry you made such a fuss about such a little thing?"
    He'll tell all the kids on the block, Harriet thought. "I didn't write it," she said.
    "Why, Harriet!" Her grandmother laughed. "You don't need to be so modest, child. You write very nice poems."
    "I copied it out of a book," Harriet said. "I found it in a book and I copied it and gave it to my old grandmother and said I wrote it."

— From "Afternoon in Linen" by Shirley Jackson
©1948 by Shirley Jackson
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