It's back to basics today with dialogue! I'm a grammar freak (*cue groans*) and nothing pulls me out of a story faster than poor grammar.
To help, I've brought in Kai and Avan, two characters from my latest WIP.
"Hi," Kai said with a wave. "We're here to... make mindless conversation in order to demonstrate Lori's dialogue points."
Avan grinned. "Let's start!"
When followed by a dialogue tag, use a comma instead of a period to end the spoken statement. Likewise, use a comma to separate the dialogue from the tag if the tag precedes the spoken statement:
"You live in the old freight yard now," Kai said, settling on the first topic that came to mind.
Avan hooked his thumbs in the pockets of his jeans and looked down. He said, "Bit of a downgrade, but at least I've got it to myself."
Dialogue ending in a question mark or exclamation point:
"You still working for the District Mail Center?" Avan asked. "The White Court must be something."
Kai's job as a courier meant she had a pass to enter the South District--the White Court according to everyone who lived outside its twenty-foot stone walls.
"It's crazy!" she said, loud enough to warrant an exclamation point even though she wasn't much for shouting. "Colors everywhere. They should have named it Rainbow Vomit."
Dialogue without any tags, and using action instead to indicate who is speaking:
"I do like to let my actions speak for me." Avan smiled and pushed messy brown hair behind his ear.
Kai suspected it was a calculated move to take full advantage of his dimple. She rolled her eyes. "You could stand to speak less."
Breaking up dialogue with a tag:
"So," Kai said, "how long do we have to keep talking? I have to take Reev his dinner or he won't eat at all."
"Speaking of dinner," Avan said, leaning in close enough that Kai raised an eyebrow and told herself blushing was not an option, "have you eaten yet?"
"Yes." It was a lie and Avan probably knew that, but he smiled anyway and drew back. Kai glanced away.
Don't bury the dialogue in the middle of a paragraph.
Kai shoved her hands into her back pockets and hunched her shoulders. "Are we done then?" They'd known each other for almost a decade, and they'd been friends for most of that time. She didn't know when things had grown awkward, but she blamed Avan. Namely because most things could be blamed on Avan.
Kai shoved her hands into her back pockets and hunched her shoulders. "Are we done then?"
They'd known each other for almost a decade and they'd been friends for most of that time. She didn't know when things had grown awkward, but she blamed Avan. Namely because most things could be blamed on Avan.
Um. Kai and Avan have both informed me that they're leaving now. Which is just as well since their unresolved attraction is leaking into this lesson.
"What?!" Kai said, providing an opportunity for Lori to point out that using the interrobang is considered poor form in formal writing.
Avan smirked. "I thought you were leaving."
"I am," Kai said, glaring. She turned her back, and Avan's smirk wilted, transforming into something else... something softer. With a sigh, he followed her.
(Lori would like to point out that you shouldn't alternate between third person omniscient and third person limited the way she just did, but that's a lesson for another day.)
*Cough* Right. Let's end this.
• Keep creative dialogue tags at a minimum - 90% should be 'said' because 'said' is invisible to readers and, therefore, doesn't disrupt the flow of the dialogue. Excessive creative tags is a sure sign of a new writer.
examples: exclaimed, muttered, cajoled, teased, commiserate, hedge, proclaim, etcetc DON'T DO THIS
• Make sure all adverbs tacked onto dialogue tags are necessary. Most of the time, they're not. Trust your dialogue to deliver the nuance instead of relying on creative tags and adverbs.
• Dialogue by a new speaker always begins on a new line.
• Any action by the speaker associated with the dialogue should be in the same paragraph.
And there you have it. Did I miss anything?
"Say it like you mean it!"