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Dialogue writing

Grade 6
Aug 27, 2022

Direct Speech

Direct speech is a sentence in which the exact words spoken are written inside the speech marks i.e. quotation marks or inverted commas.  

Rules Of Punctuating Direct Speech  

  • Remember to open and close the speech marks at the start and end of the direct speech
  • Every time there is a new speaker in the conversation, a new line is used. 
  • Each new line of direct speech should also start with a capital letter. 
  • A reporting clause after the direct speech tells the reader who is speaking. 
  • Each section of direct speech should end with a punctuation mark. If there is no reporting clause then this is likely to be a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark. Punctuation marks are to be inside speech marks. 
  •  If there is a reporting clause, then there is often a comma before the speech marks.  
  • There is usually a full stop after the reporting clause. This may come later if the sentence continues. 
  • If the reporting clause is in the middle of a sentence of a speech, a punctuation mark is used after the reporting clause before the next set of speech marks. 
  • If the reporting clause is in the middle of a sentence of speech then it should be a comma. If it’s between two sentences of speech then it should be a full stop. 


Dialogue-The term ‘dialogue’ means two (di) and speak (log) 

Dialogue is the exchange of spoken words between two or more characters in a literary written work. 

It is used in most of the forms of writing, from short stories to novels to dramas. Use of direct speech often. 

Types of dialogue  

  • Outer dialogue -The character talks to another character.  
  • Inner dialogue -The character talks to himself/herself. Conversation between the character and the mind, Monologue 

Dialogue as a Tool  

  • Expository- Conveys important information about the characters or the plot to readers without stating it explicitly 
  • Characterization-Helps writers to make their characters close to real-life people and show their traits 
  • Character traits – personality traits–Shy, timid, introverted, extrovert, etc. 
  • Character slang /colloquial language can also define his background. Sometimes it is used in dialogue writing too. 

Format of dialogue writing     

  • Punctuation –Quotation marks and dialogue tags. (Apply direct speech punctuation rules) 
  • Quotation marks (“)- Double quotation marks to be used for dialogue lines –Open and close 
  • Dialogue tags are used to identify the specific speaker, who spoke the lines 
  • Dialogue tags can be placed before, after, or middle of a line.   

Example – “Where are you going?” Peter asked curiously.    


“Tell me now!” said John, “or I am calling the cops.”  

  • If the dialogue tag is before a speech, add a comma before the first quotation marks 

Example – I said, “Don’t make noise!”   

  • A full stop placed to separate sentences for actions that are before or after the dialogue  

Example-Nancy opened the door. “Who is there?” she asked.   

  • Quotation marks (‘)-  Single quotation marks used to quote someone within a quotation 

Example – The news reporter said, “All the shop owners have closed their shops. One shop owner  said, ‘ This is such a short notice.’ Fear is visible on their faces.” 

  • When paragraphs are written due to long speech, open quotation marks are placed at the start of the first paragraph, and place closing quotation mark at the end of the sentence of the last paragraph. 
  • In case, the character’s speech is interrupted, use em dash (– ) to show the end of his/her dialogue 
  • Example –Carl shouted, “Come out! I will call –”   

                  “ It’s me !” said Larry.  

  • If dialogue ends with an ellipsis, no comma or additional punctuation to be placed. Ellipsis indicate trailing off dialogue  
  • Names of characters with their dialogues are written in play /drama. Name: Dialogue    
  • Before dialogue, adverbs are added in bracket to display the emotion of the character in play/drama. 

Basic Rules of Dialogue Writing 

  • Right punctuation.
  • Dialogue tags to be added with adverbs or gestures for impact.   
  • Minimize use of filler words (Hi, Thank you )Filler words like Hi, Thank you are part of daily conversation which should be avoided. Dialogue needs to be more brief and meaningful .It has a purpose in the story which is characterization , movement of plot etc. so that readers get completely engaged . 
  • Purpose of dialogue to convey vital information to readers – Characters’ personalities , conflict and movement of the plot 
  • Tone and the mood of the story to be maintained through dialogue- Tone and mood of the story can be easy going at the beginning, may get tensed at the middle and eventually settles down. So dialogues of characters also have to be synchronized. 
D i a l o g u e


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