How to Write Dialogue


1. Use Quote Marks and a comma.

Before your dialogue starts puts a quotation mark at the front and the back.


"I'm  not going through with it," she said.

A comma is used because you have a dialogue tag (she said) to identify the speaker.

"I hate you," shouted Betty. 

2: When you have another speaker answering the one before it; create a new paragraph indicating a new speaker.

As you can see with this dialogue it is confusing... donot do this.

“I don't like the color blue it makes me look fat," said Lucy." "No it doesn't, it makes you look skinny,"said her husband.

This is a correct example:

“I don't like the color blue, it makes me look fat, said,” said Lucy.

“No it doesn't, it makes you look skinny,” said her husband.

3. Put a period Inside of Quotation Marks When Not Using Dialogue Tags

"You are the love of my life."

When you have a dialogue tag use a comma.

"You are the love of my love," she said.

No diagogue tag use a period.

Another example:

Gunny Mac grabbed his bourbon and walked to the window. "We will fight this and fight hard."

Do not do this:

Gunny Mac grabbed his bourbon and walked to the window. "We will fight this and fight hard".

4. Remember simple sentence dialogue is the best because it shows action and is used to move a story forward. Avoid Run-On Sentences – Use Multiple Sentences if Necessary

Below is an example of a run-on sentence in dialogue with way too much punctuation.

“I plan on killing him,” said Officer Troy, “I’m going to kill him any where I can, not just at his home, but on the street, taking a crap, in church wherever the hell can.”

This above example has several mistakes in it. First of all, you should not put a comma after a dialogue tag. (I put it in bold). It’s best to use two separate sentences.

“I plan on killing him,” said Officer Troy. "I'm going to kill him any where I can. At his damn home taking a crap. He is a dead man, not safe on the street or even in church." 

I Changed the above into three sentences. each conveying a personal threat with in the quotation marks.

5. Do Use a Comma for Action Within the Dialogue

“I love this brand of cigar,” said Mac, carefully taking it out of the humidor.

“I think it’s unhealthy,” said Mark, wondering why on earth he would want to smoke that smelly thing, something that reminded him of a big turd. “You do realize it’s the same color as a turd, don’t you?”

In this instance, we DO use a comma, because it separates the dialogue tag from the action. In this case, Mac is doing a physical action as he takes the cigar from the humidor. Mark’s action is not a physical action. However, it still counts as a verb and an action all the same.


6. Know How to Punctuate Dialogue in Reverse

Dialogue tags and action donot have to be at the end of a sentence, it could be at the beginning. In all of our examples so far, we’ve put the dialogue tag at the end. In this case, you simply end the dialogue with a period and use a comma after the dialogue tag.

Mac shouted, “Leave my damn cigar alone if you know whats best for you."

Looking into his eyes, Mark said, “I just worry about your health dad."

Basically, when the dialogue tag or the action comes first, you simply reverse the dialogue punctuation marks for the comma and the period.


7. Here is an example when you have one speaker speaking several paragraphs. 

Simply omit the end quotation mark at the end of the first paragraph and begin the second paragraph with a quote mark.

This can sometimes be confusing to readers, but there are times when it is appropriate.

“Hell, with the police commissioner, I have a lot to say about this matter.” Mac played with his zippo lighter.  "This will not stand up against the Attorney General. He will destory our case before the general public." He stared right through the Captain as if he wasn't there.  

"That’s where I am today. I have nothing but comtempt for him."

I’m going to destory him financially,  morally and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

Dialogue can be used effectively in many different ways. Sometimes it is better to break up your dialogue with different speakers or to add action – but it’s not always necessary. I added some movement between dialogue  of Mac, that is up to you, your style your way of writing.