Wednesday, June 1, 2016

#WeWriteBooks, Post 18: Dialogue and Thought

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). She's currently writing a post-apocalyptic book with all of you called THIRST in conjunction with the #WeWriteBooks series. 

Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website, where you can read THIRST. You can also try two of her fantasy novels for free here and here.

Welcome to week eighteen of #WeWriteBooks Wednesdays, where we are writing books together. I did not post a new chapter of THIRST this week. Since it was a holiday and I'm a bit ahead of schedule (and King's Blood is due in three weeks), I gave myself the week off from THIRST. and just kept plugging away at finishing my first draft of King's Blood.


Week one was genre (THIRST is post-apocalyptic YA).
Week two was premise. Here's my premise:
A waterborne disease has sprung up in every corner of the globe, decimating the human race. Young survivors Eli McShane and his friends journey toward Colorado and the rumored location of a safe water source.

Week three was Storyworld.
Week four: maps and floorplans.
Week five: protagonists and main characters.
Week six: side characters.
Week seven: prewriting.
Week eight: plot structures. 
Week nine: Theme.
Week ten: creating a plot outline or list of key scenes.
Week eleven: point of view.
Week twelve: narrative modes.
Week thirteen: how to write a scene.
Week fourteen: Where to start.
Week fifteen: Prologues.
Week sixteen: Dividing Your Book Into Chapters and Scenes 
Week seventeen: Write Fast and Free

Today's Topic: Dialogue and Thought

As we discussed in Week Twelve, dialogue and thought are the first two narrative modes in writing. To review, dialogue is the orally spoken parts of your story: words that appear between quotation marks. Thought is what the character thinks to himself whether that be narrative thought or inner thoughts. First we'll talk about dialogue, then move on to thoughts.

Punctuating Dialogue

This may be review for some of you. But I continually see punctuation mistakes on dialogue when I read people's work at writers conferences, so I'd like to go over this again for those of you who have some confusion. First of all, there are two types of dialogue tags: “said” tags and “action” tags.

Said Tags

A said tag assigns dialogue to a speaker by using the word “said” or a variation of that word (asked, yelled, whispered, etc). A said tag is connected to the dialogue with a comma, unless the dialogue is a question or requires an exclamation point. When using a said tag, the pronoun must be lowercase unless you are using a proper name. Pay attention to the underlined parts of the examples below for proper punctuation.

Sample said tags:    

“I’m sorry,” the girl said.    

“I am the President of the United States,” Abraham said.   
“What do you want?” she asked.   
“What do you want?” Kate asked.    

“Leave me alone!” he screamed.    

“Leave me alone!” Mike screamed.     

“Where are the kids?” my mom asked.    

“Where are the kids?” Mom asked.    

“I can’t believe I’m telling you this,” Mindy said, “but I’m one of them.” (In this example, the said tag interrupted the dialogue, so a comma was used on the other side of the said tag since the sentence wasn't over yet. If you do this, make sure the interruption falls in a natural place for your character to pause. Read the dialogue out loud to see what sounds best.)       

“I can’t believe I’m telling you this,” Mindy said. “I’m one of them.” (Here the said tag came between two complete sentences.)  

Mindy took a deep breath and said, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but I’m one of them.” (The “Mindy took a deep breath” part of the example is what's called an action tag. But if you combine action with a said tag, like I did in this example, you need to punctuate the sentence like you would for a said tag.)

Action Tags

An action tag is a complete sentence that identifies the speaker by what they are doing. Because we see a character’s action in the same paragraph as dialogue, we know that person is the speaker. and a said tag is not necessary. Since action tags are sentences, they are punctuated like sentences.

Sample action tags:     

Krista rolled her eyes and sighed. “What do you want, Paul?”   
“Get out!” Beth slammed the door in her mother’s face.    

“If you want to come, get in.” Kyle opened the car door. “Just don’t be mad at me if you get in trouble for missing curfew.”     

“If you want to come, get in,” Kyle opened the car door, “but don’t be mad at me if you get in trouble for missing curfew.” (This example used an action tag to interrupt the sentence.)

In special cases when an action interrupts dialogue in a quick way, you can use em dashes to set this off. Since the break belongs to the sentence, rather than the dialogue inside, the em dashes must appear outside the quotation marks.     

“Before we start”—the knight plunged one of the blades into the grassy soil—“we need to go over the basics.”

*You never need more than one dialogue attribution tag per paragraph, and make sure you never have two said tags in the same paragraph.

"Said" is invisible

I once saw a teen author write a blog post called "100 Alternative Words to Said." I cringed. Using fancy dialogue attributions is one of the very first ways an editor or agent can spot an amateur author. Don't do it!

It's important to choose words carefully in your writing. But the word "said" is an exception. I know that there are many famous authors who will use things like: he exclaimed, she quipped, he argued, she amended, he interrupted, she intoned, he proclaimed, etc. That doesn't mean you need to make the same mistake. Many of those authors are already famous and can get away with bending writing rules. To break into publishing, you have to write better than the famous people if you're going to get enough attention to land a contract.

If you are seeking traditional publication, train yourself to use "said." The word "said" is invisible. It doesn't catch the reader's eye and give them pause when they should be immersed in dialogue. It does it's job by giving proper attribution to a speaker and allows the reader to read through the dialogue without pause. That's good!

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Words like asked, whispered, yelled, or shouted. These words are exceptions because they show a different volume to the dialogue that "said" cannot distinguish. Still, use these words rarely.

-ly adverbs

Watch for the use of too many -ly adverbs, especially used with a said tag. These types of adverbs are another no-no in fiction writing and one that many famous authors are guilty of practicing. Using -ly adverbs in said tags can be a cheat. Instead, force yourself to write dialogue that does the work of the adverb. An exception here and there is okay, but I wouldn't use more than two or three of these -ly adverbs per book. Here are some different examples to help you learn.

1. Get rid of "telling" -ly adverbs.

"You're so stupid," he said meanly.

Um, yeah. It's clear how that dialogue was mean, so you can just let that dialogue do it's work and cut off the telling word.

"You're so stupid," he said.

2. Use correct "said" tag word when necessary to indicate volume of the speaker's voice.

For volume, using the right alternative word can be the right choice. For example:

"Come here," he said softly.
"Come here," he whispered.

Less is more. Whenever you can use one word over two, that's a good thing.

3. Use the rare -ly adverb when the dialogue might be misunderstood.

"It's beautiful," he said sarcastically.

Though these types of things can usually be avoided by clever writing. If you describe how ugly something is, then another character says "It's beautiful," sarcasm is likely implied without needing the word "sarcastically."

Beware of too many generic action tags

A generic action tag is one that tells the reader little or nothing of interest. Things like: He shrugged. She laughed. He smiled. She sighed. She rolled her eyes. He groaned. He grinned. She scowled. He frowned.

It's not wrong to write these types of things. But generic action tags don't characterize and they tend to tell, rather than show. My first drafts are packed with these. I tend to fix them during the rewrite stage.

Here is a section from The New Recruit where you can see a variety of different things I did to spice up what began as a bunch of generic action tags. I've underlined the action tags and put notes in parentheses to explain my intention behind each one. Some of these are straight action tags, and some are descriptions of action added onto said tags. Keep in mind, action tags work best when they fit with what's happening in the scene and reveal the character's personality.

       Arianna forced me onto the bench beside Gabe. “Be right back.” She nudged Gabe. “Make him stay.” (--This one shows Arianna's forceful personality. Her actions match her words. She's bossing people around. It's what she does.)
       “Spencer, Arianna says stay.” Gabe flashed his metal smile and looked at my shirt. “Ooh. What happened?” (--Here I remind the reader that Gabe has braces. Gabe looks at Spencer's shirt and comments on it because that's a natural reaction to the fact that Spencer is a mess, which reminds the reader what Spencer looks like.)
       “Jeb Beary happened.” I flicked spaghetti off my black necktie. “I hate school uniforms.” No sign of Isabel yet. My tray looked like roadkill. I shoveled spaghetti into my mouth anyway, keeping one eye on the entrance for exotic Ee-sa-bell. (--Here we get Spencer's action to match the spaghetti mess problem. Then he's thinking about Isabel again.)
       “You normally sit with the basketball team?” Gabe asked.
       “Yeah,” I said, opening my carton of milk. (--A description of what he's doing.)
       And suddenly the goddess stood before me, giggling with Arianna. They’d come from behind me. Arianna snorted a laugh, her eyes filled with tears. But like a slow-motion scene out of a music video, Isabel tossed her hair and smiled. Her face glowed like bronze, her eyes sparked.
       “What’s so funny?” Gabe asked.
       Arianna’s expression sobered. “Do you have room for Bill and Bob?”  (--Shows Arianna's expression.)
       Isabel linked her arm with Arianna’s and murmured, “Mande? Which one is me again?”  (--Show's Isabel's movement.)
       “You’re Bob Rod, remember? I’m Bill Slo,” Arianna said.
       “Ah, si.” Isabel leaned toward Gabe and stuck out her hand adorned with glossy, claw-like fingernails edged in white. Her brown curls tumbled over her shoulder—again with the slo mo. “Me llamo Bob.”  (--This shows movement and describes Isabel through Spencer's eyes.)
       Gabe shook her hand, one eyebrow raised. “Nice to meet you, Bob.”  (--Describes Gabe and his actions.)
       I stared at her flawless cheeks as I stuck out my hand. “Spencer Garmond.” (--Describes Spencer's actions.)
       She turned her eyes on me and it felt like the heat of the bat signal. She shook my hand. “Me llamo Bob.”  (--Describes Isabel's actions and Spencer's reaction in his voice.)
       She let go all too soon, and, like a cloud crossing over the sun, the heat vanished. The girls sat across from me and Gabe. At least now, if Kip saw me, he’d understand why I ditched him. He and I had talked about the goddess before.
       Arianna leaned across the table and whispered. “We worked out undercover aliases in case we need them this summer.”  (--Describes Arianna's actions.)
       “So you came up with Bill and Bob?” I asked.
       The girls burst into hysterics again. I didn’t get it, but watching Isabel laugh was not unpleasant.
Gabe ripped off the end of his straw and blew the wrapper at Isabel. “You don’t need aliases yet, Isabel, don’t worry.”  (--Describes the action around Spencer and his thoughts.)
       “Yo sé. It’s only for playing.” She wadded his straw wrapper and flicked it back.  (--Describes Isabel's actions.)
       I wished I had a straw wrapper to flick. I must have lost mine when Jeb attacked.

Dialogue: What to Say

If you find yourself writing dialogue and you don't know what to have your characters talk about or you think their dialogue is boring, I'm here to help. Here is a list of things to help you figure out what you can do and shouldn't do with dialogue.

1. Got plot? Something should be going on in your story. If not, your characters might not have anything to talk about. So if you're really lost, you might need to look at your plot to see if you have enough conflict.

2. Avoid Q & A sessions. Your dialogue is likely boring if it looks like this:

"Hey, Steve. What are you up to?"
"Doing Algebra. You?"
"I finished mine, but I got stuck on question twelve."
"That one's easy."
"How do you do it, then?"
"Remember, the amount resulting from compounding interest equals the principal times the sum of one and the quotient of the rate of interest divided by the number..."


2. Avoid info dumps. This is where you sneak story details into dialogue in a very obvious way. Don't do this!
"Hey, Steve. What are you up to?"
"Oh, I'm just putting on makeup."
"Why so much?"
"I'm in the school play."
"When is the play? Can I watch it?"
"It's this weekend. I'm selling tickets. Do you want to buy one?"
"Sure! How much are they?"
"Ten bucks."
"Oh, man. I don't have that much. I just got a new job at McDonalds, but I don't get paid until next Friday."

3. Add conflict in what people don't say. People aren't always honest when they speak. That could be because they are shy, embarrassed, guilty, or just unwilling to share information. This can add conflict to the conversation and the overall story, especially when the point of view character withholds information.

4. Motivation should affect dialogue. The motivations of each character should influence the things they say. Make sure to take that into consideration when writing dialogue. Take, for example, three people. First you have a principal who has called a mother down to the office to talk about her misbehaving child. This child is the bane of the principal's every school day. And the principal has spent all year surmising what kind of insane, evil woman must have "raised" this little monster. Next you have the mother. Her son has told her many stories about how mean the principal is. She is sick and tired of that man singling out her son to teach a lesson. He never even listens to her son explain himself. She is really looking forward to giving that man a piece of her mind. Third we have the son, who really likes the principal and thinks that if his mother could just meet the man, they might hit it off. His dad left when he was a baby, so it would be really great to have a dad.

Now imagine how the conversation will go when these three get into the same room. Each person will be coming off their own preconceived notions and private agendas. It's going to be a mess.

5. Miscommunication can affect dialogue. Sometimes the conversation starts with an attack from one person who has misunderstood the actions of another, like in my previous example. Miscommunications can be far less complex, however.

6. Dialogue should characterize. You might only have one point of view character, but your other characters don't know that. In fiction, characters should behave as if each of them thinks he or she is the star of the show. That means that not only does everyone talk differently and make different word choices, they also each have their own interests, agendas, and plans that may or may not mesh with the plans of your hero. I love to use the example of the characters from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Greg Heffley might be the protagonist, but every character who walks onto the stage is living as the star of his or her own story. Each has a life of his or her own to live. And just because they aren't in the story all the time doesn't  mean they are sitting around waiting for the hero to arrive. No way! They have things to do! Think about Rowley Jefferson, Fregley, and Patty Farrell. How many times does Greg come upon them and find them in the middle of their own enthralling plans? Always. So make sure your side characters have lives of their own because they'll likely talk about those things.

Dialogue combined with actions can also characterize:

Paige clomped into the room and slumped into the seat beside Eli's.
"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"I'm starving," she said.
Eli instantly thought of the Snickers in his bag. The Snickers he'd bought for himself. The Snickers he'd been saving for after track practice. "I've got a Snickers. You want it?"


7. A character's emotional state can affect dialogue. Is your character angry? Tired? Happy? Excited? His emotional state might affect how he speaks. If two people are happy and having a conversation, the conversation will be very different from a situation in which one person is happy and the other is not, or one in which both people are angry. Also, certain situations can change a person. A soft spoken teacher, when pushed too far, might just blow up. If an innocent person is accused of a crime, even the most introverted of people will speak up to defend his or her actions.

8. Dialogue can be confrontational. Dialogue should have tension. That may mean a fight, but not always. Tension can also come from fear, anger, hatred, desire, excitement, sorrow, competition, etc. I could go on an on. Each character's traits can clash. Some characters will always take over the conversation. Some will be rude. Some will always be polite. Some might not speak at all. When emotions clash, things can get all the more interesting for your reader.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"What do you think is up, you jerk?" Paige said.
"What did I do?"
"Are you kidding me? Boys are so clueless."

9. Dialogue can be suspenseful. You could have one of your characters say or do something that piques the reader's interest or curiosity. Maybe the answer is vague or suspicious and makes the point of view character think the other character is hiding something or lying for some reason.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"You don't want to know," Paige said.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"As if you don't know," Paige said.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"Mr. Lawler gave a pop quiz that I totally failed," Paige said.
"Wait. You're not in Mr. Lawler's class."

10. Dialogue can be confusing (in a good way). You could have one of your characters say something odd in reply to a question. Maybe the character is in a goofy mood, maybe she's preoccupied by something, or maybe she wasn't listening or misheard him. Maybe you are just looking to characterize someone, like Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"Sky. Moon. Stars," Paige said, smiling.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"Did you know Mike and Emma are dating?" Paige asked.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"Do I want some what?" Paige asked.

11. Dialogue can make decisions that move the story forward. People often decide things when they talk. It could be making a decision about what type of person this is that they're speaking to. Or it could simply be a decision about what they are going to do next. Since you should have a goal for every scene, let your dialogue lead your characters to the place you need them to go.

"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
"I'm starving," Paige said.
"I could eat. Let's go to DairyQueen. Then we can talk to Alice about her brother."

12. Dialogue can describe. Use description tags or action tags to give clues to your point of view character. You don't have to use such tags with every bit of dialogue, but practice finding places where it fits and feels natural.

Paige walked into the room and slumped into the seat beside Eli's. Her eyes were red and puffy.
"Hey, what's up?" Eli asked.
She huffed. "As if you don't know."

Paige grabbed her stomach and groaned.
"What's wrong?" Eli asked.
She stuck out her bottom lip. "I haven't eaten all day."

13. Dialogue can be internal. Narrative thoughts and internal thoughts from your point of view character can really add intrigue to dialogue.

Paige walked into the room and slumped into the seat beside Eli's. Her eyes were red and puffy.
Uh oh. "Hey, what's up?" Eli asked, wincing inside. Could she know already? Who would have told her?
Paige glared at him. "What do you think is up, you jerk?"
A chill ran up Eli's arms. She knows!

Tip For Multi-character Conversations

If you have a scene in which there are several people present, have a reason for this group discussion and a reason why everyone is there. I don't recommend having too many scenes like this as they can confuse your reader. And starting a book with a scene like this is dangerous because it can be really hard for your reader to keep track of all the new characters. If you're going to have a scene like this, try to put it later on in the story after your reader has gotten to know all of your characters. 

Here is an example of a group conversation from The New Recruit. In this scene, I wanted Spencer to experience an invasion by his new friends he calls "churchers." I wanted the scene to be funny, to characterize everyone, and to show the motivations of the various characters. For example:

-Spencer is feeling awkward because his new church friends invaded the lunch table where he sits with his basketball friends.
-Gabe is trying to make friends with Spencer.
-Isabel just wants to sit with her friends and eat lunch.
-Kip (Spencer's best friend) is annoyed that these “losers” came and sat at the cool people table, but he thinks Isabel is hot, so he makes the best of it by flirting with her and ends up taking over the conversation.

     “Dude, this is nuts. I’m out of here.” Kip stood up. “I’ll be outside.”
     Gabe opened a bag of chips and offered Kip one. “You should probably stay in the building. It’s pretty hot out today.”
     Kip stared at Gabe as if the guy had two heads.
     “Que pasa? Got room for me, Gabriel?” Isabel stood behind me, holding a pink fabric lunch sack. Her thick black lashes seemed to blink in slow motion.
     Gabe pushed his stuff over and squished closer to me, making a spot for Isabel, but she sat on my other side. Ha! Garmond-1. Stopplecamp-0. And I just have to point out: When Isabel said Gabriel’s name, it sounded like Gabrielle, which is a girl’s name. I’m just saying . . .
     “Yeah . . .” Kip said, his eyes roaming over Isabel like a searchlight. “It does look kind of hot outside.” He sat back on the bench. “Kind of hot in here too.”
      I snorted a laugh. Kip took great pride in the cheesy pickup lines he dealt to girls. The sad thing was, they worked half the time. I secretly hoped Isabel was smarter than the girls Kip usually hit on.
     “Es-pensor, what church do you go to?” Isabel asked.
     “Calvary Baptist,” I said, thankful for the first time that Grandma made me go so I could provide the goddess with a pleasing answer.
     “Me, Gabe, Arianna, and Neek, we all go to Cornerstone Christian Center. You should come to our youth group sometime. It’s on Wednesday nights.”
     Yeah, right. Like I’d ever set foot in that place again. Nick didn’t like me, and neither did his dad, Pastor Muren. Yet this was Isabel inviting me somewhere.
     “I’m sorry, were you talking to me?” Kip asked Isabel.
     She looked across the table. “Uh, no. I was asking—”
     “Would you like to?” Kip said.
     She frowned. Apparently she wasn’t quick enough to catch his meaning.
     Kip flashed her a cheesy grin. “I’m just asking because my friend Spencer here wants to know if you think I’m cute.”
     I rolled my eyes.
     Isabel pursed her lips and tipped her head to the side. “Well, what is your name, Es-pensor’s friend?”
     “You can call me Kip if I can call you tonight.”
     This time Isabel chuckled. “Oh, you’re a funny one.”
     Kip tapped his fingers on the table in front of my tray.
     “Dude, did the sun come up or did she just smile at me?”
     I laughed too. I couldn’t help it. When Kip got going, only a slap to the face could stop him. And I had to give him credit for using his clean lines on Isabel. I guess he could tell she was too nice to be raunchy around.
     Or maybe he just didn’t want her to slap him.

With group conversations, Stephanie also recommends that you be strategic about where people are sitting and that if someone isn't contributing to the conversation, get them out of the room. The fewer people the reader has to keep track of, the better.

Archived posts for dialogue:
Creating Tension: Put Dialogue To Work
The Fear of Too Much Dialogue
Emotion Beats in Your Dialogue
How To Write Good Dialogue, Part One
How To Write Good Dialogue, Part Two
How To Write Good Dialogue, Part Three
A Checklist For Editing Your Dialogue

Punctuating Thought 

How you punctuate thoughts depends on what you write. If you are writing first person, there is no formatting distinction between narrative thought and inner thought. It's all your point of view character's thoughts. There is no need to italicize thoughts or change tense.

If you're writing third person deep point of view, all narrative is essentially your point of view character's thoughts, so you try to write exactly what would go through that person's head, taking into account the voice of that character.

As I see it, there are three types of narrative in the third person sections below. Regular narrative is used to write the play-by-play of what's happening. It's just the facts of the situation. Next is narrative thought. This is used to show you when the point of view character is thinking to herself. And finally the inner thoughts. This is when, in third person, the point of view character switches to first person for an important thought, which must be italicized to point out to the reader that this is a deeper, more direct thought and that's why it is now in first person. Use these rarely because too much italicized thoughts can be overwhelming to readers.

When you use those deeper, first person direct thoughts, leave off the "he thought" or "she thought." The fact that you have italicized them makes it clear that the character is thinking. In these cases, the "he thought" or "she thought" is simply telling tacked on.

Below are two examples from my book King's Folly, which is written in third person. I have highlighted narrative in green, narrative thought in blue, and inner thoughts in red. The first is an example of a conversation from Mielle's point of view. Lady Zeroah asks the first question.

"What is your age?" 
"I am fifteen. We are both adults now. Strange, isn't it? I do not feel like an adult. Not really." 
They stared at each other for a long stretch of silence. Should Mielle say something? What was Zeroah thinking? It would help to know what was expected of her. "What are my responsibilities as an honor maiden?" 
"Most importantly I need someone who will speak honestly with me and will guard my inmost secrets with her very life. Even from my mother." 
Keep a secret from the princess? Was that allowed?

Now here is an example of Charlon's point of view from King's Folly. Her character voice is very different from Mielle's. As before, I have highlighted narrative in green, narrative thought in blue, and inner thoughts in red.

Charlon's breath caught. The altars! This must be one of the five. She had learned of Magon's altars as a child. Each had a different rune carved into the base. One of five runes Magon had taught her first followers. Each altar required a different sacrifice. 
Her heart trilled in fear. They would be sacrificed. Five boys. Killed on Magon's altar. 
No. Four boys. One woman in disguise. 
Run! her heart screamed. But she gazed at the pole. Prayed to the goddess. Prayed hard. Have mercy, great goddess. I give my life in service. Don't let me bleed. Please, magnificent one. I beg you. Don't let them touch me. Don't let them-- 
"She's ready." The calm one, Vald, had returned.

Archived posts for thoughts:
How To Write Your Character's Thoughts
Italicizing a Character's Thoughts
Internal Monologue: Some Thoughts

NOTE: Dialogue and thought can contradict one another, and this is a great way to characterize. Your character might answer politely, yet think sarcastic thoughts in his head. Or he might be rude, then feel bad about it in his thoughts, even if he doesn't apologize aloud. Good stuff.

Assignment Time

How is your dialogue? What do you do well? What do you need to work on? If you have a particular section of dialogue that you're proud of and isn't too long, share it in the comments.



  1. Oh my goodness, this is helpful!! In my drafts, I have so many 'smiling' and 'sighing' and 'shrugging', so I definitely need something more imaginative. I really enjoy writing dialogue, here's a snippet of what I've just been writing for the 100 for 100:
    "Come with me," said Raina, without really thinking it over. "It's not too far for you."
    "Yes it is."She expected him to be at least a little conflicted, but there wasn't any doubt written in Lux's sallow face. "And you can't follow me, Raina. Gods, look at me..." He glanced down at his blackened chest but immediately looked away again. "I'm not sure anyone can."
    Thanks for the post, Mrs. Williamson! This series is so helpful! :)

    1. Nice dialogue, Charlotte. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a powerful scene.

  2. Thank you so much for the post. Dialogue has never really been easy for me, my dialogue never got anything done. I'm also really bad at bringing out people's personality in what they say. This post helps so much! I also have way to many adverbs and Q+A sessions. This blog has helped me so much in my writing!
    Thanks again for the post!

    1. I'm so glad you found us and have been encouraged here! 😊

  3. Practically everything I need to equip me in dialogue writing is in this post!! Thank you so much.

    Hmm, I'd have to say I am well-trained in using the word 'said' a lot. I adore its simplicity and how normal it sounds, although when characters say something loudly, softly, or show more emotion then usual that's when I tend to use words like 'snapped', 'whispered', and 'demanded'.

    I guess I'm also guilty for doing the Q and A dialogues :P when I'm first drafting I do this a lot, so it's obviously something to look out for when editing.

    1. Sounds like you are right on track for using "said." Good job! Yeah... editing is magical for fixing what's broken, huh? A lot is broken in my first drafts...

  4. Wow! What an awesome post! I love that you included proper punctuation for dialogue--I'm always confused about whether to use a comma or a period with dialogue tags. But I do love writing dialogue. It's so awesome for lightening up a heavy scene with humor.

    Thanks for the post, Mrs. Williamson!

    1. You're welcome! Yes, that punctuation can be tricky. I wonder who invented it...?

  5. What an awesome post! I like writing dialogue, but I'm not sure I'm the best at it. I think I should write more thoughts, though. To me, the punctuation is pretty easy.
    Unfortunately, I use a lot of words like 'whisper', 'exclaimed', and 'explained'. Oh well. I'll work on it.
    Thanks for the awesome post!! Every week I look forward to Wednesdays. ☺

    1. Aww! I'm so glad you're here, Gisela. Good job on mastering the punctuation issue. It can be tricky. And, yes. Editing is a writer's friend. 😊

  6. My dialogue in my first draft is usually bad, but if I think about it for some time I come up with something good. I use a lot of generic action tags especially sighing and smiling and eyebrow raising. According to one of my writing friends I use glide too much.
    I'm about to work on my 100 words. I've been planning it since I've been super busy the past few days, so I planned instead of wrote.
    Also, tell McKenna good luck with her story. It sounds like a great idea. Also strangely familiar... I think I had a similar story idea, once.

    1. Oh, yes. We all have our words/writing quirks. I have a bad habit of unnecessarily starting sentences with the word "and," and I often have to do a search for the word "eyebrow" to make sure I haven't used it over and over. The "Find/Replace" feature in Word is a dear friend of mine.

  7. This post came at a good time! I pretty much always write in third person and I'm never really sure when I should italicize thoughts. I'll also have to go back through and take a closer look at the said and action tags. Now that I think about it, I think I punctuated some wrong, too, so I'll have to fix those. *groan* I'll save that for rewrites.

    In one of my other WIPs I had a lot of scenes with four people talking to each other. It got frustrating trying to show who was talking. Really frustrating.

    1. I'm so glad! "Save that for rewrites"--good plan. For your four people scenes, I totally understand. You will be able to work on those in rewrites too.

  8. This post is awesome!!! Thanks Jill :-) I think dialogue is probably the hardest thing for me to write(I've been avoiding it whenever possible). I really just need to stop being lazy and develop my character's speech patterns. Also, thanks for the punctuation info, I've been randomly placing commas and periods.

  9. Great post. I normally deal with dialogue in tension. A lot of characters in the story I am working on hate my main character. One question I have though is how one uses the word "said" over and over again without sounding repetitive.