It isn’t easy to write convincing dialogue and it’s something many writers struggle with. Even if you get the words right, there seem to be so many rules and regulations concerning how it should be set out, the punctuation etc. Over the following few weeks, I’ll be giving you some tips on how to build on your dialogue skills. Here’s the first:
Always use speech marks for characters’ words. It’s so easy to miss them off, which can lead to confusion e.g.:
“Have you seen my dog?” Sally asked. Kerry is so sweet.
It’s not clear if the last sentence is part of Sally’s speech or relates to something else.
“Have you seen my dog?” Sally asked. “Kerry is so sweet.”
Placing the speech marks around the words of dialogue makes it instantly clear. Similarly, placing speech marks around words which aren’t dialogue can also be confusing e.g.:
“I’m working next Friday,” Stacey said. “She hated working Fridays.”
Obviously there shouldn’t be any speech marks around the last sentence, but sometimes speech marks seem to take on a life of their own so it’s important to read your work through carefully.