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Writing 09 - Write Dialogues
Listening to conversations in everyday life will help you when writing dialogues.

Writing 09 - Write Dialogues

In Upper Primary English classes you will be asked how to write good dialogues. In the movie, My Fair Lady, the various dialogues that transpire between Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, between Professor Higgins and Alfred Doolittle or between Colonel Pickering and Eliza Doolittle prove the point that dialogues are very important in any story. Just imagine a situation where there were no dialogues in the movie and you will realise just how important dialogues are!

Dialogues in a movie determine the type of character each one is. Dialogues in a movie set the pace. A film just races along, all because of superlative dialogues. Dialogues should mirror real life situations sparingly and make use of real life settings as supports. Dialogues should be short and punchy and provide enough information to keep the reader’s interest in the story going. Dialogues should be used in conjunction with action and not as an alternative and, more often than not, internal thoughts are also a part of dialogue.

A good dialogue writer takes care to see that dialogues follow established conventions such as proper formatting and proper punctuations. Dialogues can be used in a story to effectively distinguish between characters and develop each character’s personality through delivery of dialogues attributed to them which establishes their race, creed, language, dialect, morality, background and appearance. In effect, dialogue is a tool to help characterisation.

Good dialogue writing always gives just sufficient information and not the full information. Some of the activities that one needs to follow to help writing good dialogues are to read voraciously and study keenly how people talk and converse. Writers must realise that dialogues cannot replace 100 percent real life conversations because in real life conversations non verbal cues are very important and it is almost impossible to provide those in writing. Take the quiz that follows and be on the way to learn more about writing dialogues.
1.
Choose the correctly punctuated dialogue.
Mustaq stared at me and screamed "Take your hands off me!"
Mustaq stared at me and screamed, "Take your hands off me!"
Mustaq stared at me and screamed "Take your hands off me"!
Mustaq stared at me and screamed "Take your hands off me."
The comma should be used before the quotation marks start. Screamed is a strong emotion and an exclamation mark is warranted. The exclamation mark should be within the quotation marks
2.
Which of the following should you avoid while writing dialogues?
Providing too much information.
Rambling or meaningless chatter.
Not letting the reader hear your character's voice.
All of the above.
A character is an important element of your story and his voice must be heard. His dialogue lets you do that. Meaningless chatter and babbling should be avoided and oo much information should not be given out through dialogues
3.
Choose the correct statement.
Dialogues should not reveal the relationships between characters.
Dialogues should not help move the story forward.
Profanity, obscenity and slang in dialogues can be used liberally.
Profanity, obscenity and slang in dialogues must be employed in moderation.
Among the purposes of dialogues, revealing relationships between characters, moving the story forward and creating contrast are important. Profanity, obscenity and slang may be acceptable in normal conversations but not in dialogues in a story and so should be employed sparingly
4.
What is an identifying tag in dialogue?
The name of a character.
A nickname of a character.
A verb of speech and pronoun/noun used to identify the speaker.
All of the above.
Tags are used to identify the speaker and should be used sparingly. Tags are verbs of speech and pronoun/noun. For instance, "they said" is a tag while "The dog's name was Floyd, but we called him Flo' is not a tag
5.
Are a character's thoughts also a part of dialogue?
No, thoughts of characters are not dialogue.
No, if the words are not put under quotation marks.
No, because thoughts are indirect dialogues.
Yes, a character's thoughts are a part of dialogue.
Thoughts going through a character's mind are indirect dialogues and are also part of dialogue. Usually, thoughts are not presented under quotation marks
6.
A well written dialogue does what?
Advances the story and creates interest.
Develops characters and provides relief from plain exposition.
Creates tension amongst characters.
All of the above.
Dialogues create tension among characters and thereby provide action-reaction situations which keep the interest level high. Dialogues give a push to the story and develop characters so the reader can form impressions about the characters. Dialogues ensure relief from monotony of plain documentary type story telling
7.
The purpose of dialogue in a novel or story is to...
develop characterisation and to provide character or plot information.
exactly emulate real life conversation.
provide as much information as possible.
serve as an alternative to action.
Dialogue is used in conjunction with action and not as an alternative. Dialogues should not be just a replica of a real life conversation because in real life conversations non verbal cues are used predominantly which cannot be reproduced in a story. There must be just the right amount of information to be passed on to the reader, allowing the reader to think for himself
8.
Choose the correct statement.
Formatting dialogue is as important as the dialogue itself.
Tags should be used sparingly while writing dialogues.
Punctuation and paragraphs play an important role in dialogues.
All of the above.
Formatting includes style, punctuation, paragraphing and tagging. Certain conventions have to be followed such as all punctuation marks should be within quotation marks and a new speaker's dialogue should be started with a new paragraph. In respect of tags, they must be used sparingly as it is better to let the dialogue itself take care of the identity of the speaker
9.
Which of the following does not help in dialogue writing?
Never mixing dialogues with action.
Listening to people talk in everyday life.
Providing information in small doses.
Providing proper punctuation.
Breaking up dialogues with action interspersed is good to relieve boredom or monotony. Good dialogue writing skills can be obtained through keen observation of how people talk and converse. Dialogues should provide information in sufficient quantities in small doses and should never provide all information at once. Dialogues should be properly punctuated
10.
Which of the following is preferred in dialogue writing?
Dialogues should be just dialogues without supporting text.
All the characters should have dialogues in one dialect only.
One character's complete dialogue should be completed before another character's dialogue.
The actual dialogue would sound better if it is supported by a location or a scene or appropriate surroundings or settings.
The essence of dialogue is to capture realistic scenes that are played out on a day to day basis with realistic settings. As such, dialogues should capture the nuances of different characters and their predilections. Dialogues should alternate between characters. Dialogues would become monotonous if not supported by actions and reactions and proper settings and atmosphere which can be ensured through appropriate texts
Author:  V T Narendra

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