For Students

August 11, 2013

Adding Dialogue to Your Story

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Written by: Shari
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dialog punctuation; is the conversation that your characters have within your story. 

Dialog is the U.S. spelling, dialogue is the British spelling. I like dialogue!

Every character cannot sound the same. You should be able to know which character is speaking by the words they say, and how they say them. Do they have an accent or lisp, do they speak hurriedly? Is their voice low and gruff, high and grating on the ear?

When you were a child, you probably had pretend conversations between Barbie and Ken, or GI Joe and his army buddies, or stuffed animals. How did you know which one was speaking? They all had a tone, a manner, a way of conversing. To work out your dialogue in your story, you might have to get a couple toys and assign them your character names, and have a mock conversation. Are your toys believable? Do you need to work on dialog?

Make sure to avoid the temptation to make your characters talk as you talk , or to speak correctly. We know that you know the proper English usage or vocabulary term, but your characters are not you! Let them make mistakes, and use the wrong word, or use a smaller word instead of advanced vocabulary. Let a kid speak with a lisp or dialect (as long as it doesn’t distract from the reading).

Read your conversations out loud, and make sure they sound believable. Dialogue between two computer programmers will use many four and five syllable words. Dialogue between two average children will not!

Click here for 4 Punctuation Tips for Dialogue

Adding dialogue successfully to your story can help you to show your story instead of telling it.


Using a familiar nursery rhyme or fable, tell the story just with dialogue. See if a reader can tell what story you are depicting merely by the words, conversation, tone of voice, and style of dialogue you create.


“That’s no fair. You cheated.”

“No, I didn–”

“You did, too! I was ahead the whole race, and just stopped to rest for a second. You must have taken a short-cut to beat me. How else can you explain it?”

“Slow and steady, wins the race,” said the tortoise.

Who are they?


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About the Author

Shari Popejoy, wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, founder of a local co-op for hundreds of homeschool children, author of seven books, and creator of Won Without Words (a blog of encouragement for wives) lives in the quiet country of the Ozarks where she enjoys writing surrounded by nature (and her children, of course). She is currently completing Volume V of the Livingstone Library, an adventure series for 'smart' kids, which features characters with character, and underlying allegorical spiritual truths. She enjoys high places and the road less traveled, and moments when all is well, and peace permeates like a fragrance. . .oh, and chocolate, fresh fruit and veggies, and early morning sunrises. Read her blog at


punctuation for quotes;

4 Tips About How To Use Quotation Marks Correctly for Dialogue

Don't let simple punctuation rules for quotations and dialogue trip you up. Here are four easy tips for using quotation marks correctly for dialogue.
by Shari



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