Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing
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Basics on the topic Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing
Dialogue in Narrative Writing
What is a dialogue in a story? Let’s find out with a definition:
A dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters or speech that is written as a part of a narrative. Dialogue is important in a story for two reasons – it helps develop characters and move the story forward.
How and when to use dialogue in a story? We can add dialogue to the story in the following situations:
- when there is more than one character in a scene
- when a character enters and leaves the scene
- when a character talks or thinks aloud to himself
- when we want to add to the action of the story
Writing Dialogue in a Story – Examples
Let’s read the text and see how to add dialogue in a story.
Little Fox was walking through the woods when he suddenly realized that he got lost. Little Fox thought out loud, “There is no one around whom I can ask for directions! And it is getting darker!”
This dialogue shows what Little Fox is thinking out loud.
Suddenly, Little Fox heard some movement in the grass.
In this situation, a new character is about to enter the scene, so it is natural the two characters would speak to each other. We show their conversation by adding dialogue.
“I am here! You can ask me for directions!” said somebody from behind the bush. “Oh no! What if it’s a dangerous animal?” whispered Little Fox to herself, getting really scared.
We add dialogue here to show that Little Fox is scared. It helps to develop a character and set up a problem.
Suddenly, a small glowing insect flew from behind the bush. ”Don’t worry, I am not dangerous!” said somebody. “I am Firefly.” “A firefly?” asked surprised Little Fox. “I don’t think fireflies are good with directions. You are too small! You can’t know the forest well.”
We add dialogue to develop the problem and the characters further. Dialogue shows that Little Fox is disrespectful towards Firefly, even though he needs help.
“You are very rude!” said Firefly. “But, okay. If you think I can’t show you the correct way, you can try to find it yourself.” After these words Firefly flew away leaving Little Fox all alone.
In this part of the story, we add to the action by creating dialogue that shows how Firefly feels about Little Fox. Let’s finish the story:
Little Fox kept walking alone in the dark, but soon realized that he couldn't figure out the way by himself. He shouted, “Dear Firefly, are you still here? I am very sorry, I was wrong. I need your help because it’s dark, and I don’t know how to get home!” Little Fox waited and waited. Finally, he heard a familiar voice. “Okay, Little Fox, I can show you the way. But next time you are in trouble and someone offers you help, don’t be rude and don’t judge them by their size!” said Firefly. “You are right, Firefly,” said Little Fox. “I made a big mistake.” Firefly showed Little Fox the way home, and they became good friends. Little Fox felt very sorry for being rude to Firefly, and he was never rude to any animal ever since .
In the final part of the story dialogue is used to develop a relationship between characters and move the story forward.
Using Proper Punctuation for Dialogue in a Story
Now let’s figure out how to punctuate dialogue in a short story. We need to punctuate it properly, so the readers can identify the dialogue easily.
We punctuate dialogue by using direct quotations and speaker tags. For example:
|Direct quotation||Speaker tag|
|“You are very rude!”||said Firefly.|
Direct quotations show the exact words that are spoken by the character, and the speaker tag demonstrates who is talking. In the example above, the direct words said are ”You are very rude!” and the speaker is Firefly.
We can use dialogue at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.
When using dialogue at the beginning of a sentence, we begin the direct quote with opening quotation marks. We capitalize the first letter, put a question mark, an exclamation mark, or a comma at the end of the quote, and add the closing quotation marks after the last word spoken by the character. Finish the sentence with a speaker tag and a period.
When the sentence spoken by a character has a period at the end, we change it into a comma when we write dialogue with a speaker tag. For example: ”You can take it from the cabinet,” mom replied.
When using dialogue in the middle of a sentence, we put opening and closing quotations around the first part of the dialogue, the speaker tag in the middle, and another set of quotation marks around the next statement the character said. For example:
When we use dialogue at the end of a sentence, we start the dialogue with the speaker tag, add a comma and then a direct quote in quotation marks.
How to space dialogue in a story? You need to begin a new line or paragraph every time a different character speaks.
Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing – Summary
Let’s review what we learned about using dialogue in narrative writing.
A dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters that is written as a part of a narrative. In stories, we use dialogue to develop characters and move the story forward. We can add dialogue at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. We punctuate dialogues using direct quotations and speaker tags. We begin a new line when a different character starts speaking.
Now you know how to write a good dialogue in a story and how to organize dialogue in a story. To practice more, check out our video, activities, and worksheets!
Frequently Asked Questions about Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing
Authors use dialogue in a story to develop characters and move the story forward in an interesting way.
Dialogue in a story serves two purposes: it helps develop characters and move the story forward.
Dialogue is important in the story because it helps to make characters and events in the story more interesting.
Dialogue in a story starts with quotations marks.
To format dialogue in a story, use correct punctuation: direct quotations and speaker tags.
To separate dialogue in a story, start a new line every time a different character speaks.
Transcript Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing
Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing. Ernie is writing a story for the 'Get it Published' Contest where the winning author gets their work turned into a book. Jane is proofreading his draft and tells him that he needs to make it more interesting by adding dialogue. Dialogue is a conversation or speech that is written as part of a narrative. In narrative writing we use dialogue to help develop the story’s characters... and move the story forward in an interesting way. We can add dialogue when... there is more than one character in a scene... a character enters or leaves a scene... a character talks or thinks aloud to themselves... or to add to the action of the story. Let's read Ernie's story to see where he should add dialogue and how to punctuate it properly. Mr. Sloth was making his way up the tree to rest in his favorite spot. All of sudden, a monkey was quickly climbing up the tree behind him. In this situation, a new character is coming into the scene, so it's natural they would speak with one another. We show this interaction by adding dialogue. "What are you doing?" yelled the monkey. "I'm just existing in this tree. What's your hurry?"Mr. Sloth replied. This dialogue helps the story because it shows the monkey is impatient and Mr. Sloth is not. It also sets up the problem of the story in an interesting way. When adding dialogue, we must punctuate it properly. We punctuate dialogue by using direct quotations and speaker tags. Direct quotations show the EXACT words spoken by the character... and the speaker tag tells who is doing the talking. To punctuate dialogue that asks a question, begin the direct quote with opening quotation marks. Capitalize the first letter and... put the question mark at the end of the quote... and then put the ending quotation marks after the last spoken word. Complete the sentence with the speaker tag and a period. Remember to begin a new line or paragraph each time a new or different character speaks. The monkey began to poke Mr. Sloth with his tail, trying to get him to move out of the way. Here, we can add to the action by creating dialogue that shows us what the monkey is thinking. You need to move out of my way the monkey snapped. I need to get to the top! Here, the monkey is saying both lines so we punctuate the sentence like this. We put opening and closing quotations around the first part with the speaker tag in the middle and another set of quotation marks around the next statement he said. Mr. Sloth waved his arm as he began to move out of the monkey's way. We can learn more about Mr. Sloth's character and the story's events if we add dialogue here. He responded, "Monkey, my friend, you're in such a hurry to get to the top, you're not enjoying the journey there." Here, we started the dialogue with the speaker tag, and the direct quote came after. These are separated by a COMMA. Monkey looked at Mr. Sloth and realized he was correct. In the comments, write the dialogue of what you think Monkey said. Remember to use proper punctuation and a speaker tag. While Ernie submits his story for the contest, let's review. Remember... Dialogue is a conversation or speech that is written as part of a narrative. In narrative writing, we use dialogue to help develop the story’s characters and move the story forward. We punctuate dialogue by using direct quotations and speaker tags. Dialogue can be at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Ernie won the contest and his book, "Live Fast, Live Slow!" is a huge success! Looks like the book signing will have to continue tomorrow.
Using Dialogue in Narrative Writing exercise
When can dialogue be added to narrative writing?Hints
A dialogue occurs between more than one person.
A dialogue can also happen when a character thinks to themselves.
This is not a correct answer.Solution
Dialogue can be added when:
*characters are talking to each other
*a character enters or leaves a room
*a character thinks aloud or talks to themselves
*you want to add to the action of the story
Dialogue could be added to picture 2 and picture 4 above.
Explain what dialogue does for a story.Hints
Based on the dialogue above, what might happen next in the story?
What do you learn from the dialogue below?Solution
Dialogue helps advance the story.
When characters speak, you learn about them.
Identify the different elements of dialogue in the text below.Hints
Quotation marks go around the speaker's dialogue.
The speaker's tag always closes with punctuation.
Here is an example of one sentence highlighted correctly.Solution
Quotation marks go around a speaker's direct statement. The direct statement always begins with a capital letter. The speaker's tag tells you who is speaking. End punctuation always comes after the speaker's tag.
Edit each sentence to create proper dialogue.Hints
The picture below is an example of properly-punctuated dialogue.
Questions end with a question mark.Solution
Quotation marks always surround the speaker's direct statement. Punctuation such as a comma, question mark, or exclamation mark go inside the quotation marks to separate the direct statement from the speaker's tag.
Which speaker tag belongs with each direct quotation?Hints
Here is an example of direct quotations with speaker tags.
When someone says "okay," they are agreeing.
This is the ending of the story:
"Okay, I guess I will try," Derek agreed. "Yum, this is delicious!"Solution
When the direct quotation is a question, the speaker tag will contain words like asked, questioned, or wondered.
When the direct quotation ends with an exclamation point, the speaker tag will contain words like exclaimed, shouted, or yelled.
Complete the missing parts of the story.Hints
Dialogue is punctuated with two quotation marks around the speaker's direct statement.
Remember: Dialogue can be at the beginning, middle, or end of a paragraph.Solution
It was a Christmas tradition in the Garcia household to break open a piñata.
"Come on Mariseli, you can do it!" Diego cheered. His sister was blindfolded. She took a big swing at the piñata and missed. Their parents giggled in the background.
"I can't see where it is!" Mariseli said. She tried to take off the blindfold.
"No!" their parents shouted. "Being blindfolded is part of the game."
Mariseli felt discouraged.
"Move just a little to the left," suggested Diego. " Then swing! "
Marieli listened to her brother's instructions. Bam! She hit the piñata and all the Christmas treats exploded into the air.
"I did it!" she exclaimed, happily. She gathered the delicious chocolates and sugary cookies and ate them with her family. It was the best part of Christmas.