Narrative Basics Lesson 4: Speech and Dialogue

Putting it all together

Putting it all together

We’re going to try putting everything together in a checkpoint piece, using this snippet from Mango Delight as a model.

But in a dialogue snippet like this, there is lots of stuff happening at once. So let’s examine this snippet from a few different perspectives, and then on the next page you can try to write your own variation.

First, let’s look at the basic structure.

The snippet starts with action, then goes into dialogue with two speakers. (And there are no speech tags!)

I stopped so suddenly that Brook slammed into my back.

“Hey! What the … ?”

“Sorry. I’m freaking out. What if they start laughing and texting about me again?”

“So, what if? Who cares about those iPhonies? We’ll be the ones laughing when I humiliate the phoniest of them all on the track. Now you listen to me, Mango Delight Fuller. You can’t let those bullies get to you. You’re a survivor!”

Mango DelightFracaswell HymanSource

What are the characters trying to do with their speech? 

We can boil it down to three main actions.

I stopped so suddenly that Brook slammed into my back.

“Hey! What the … ?”

“Sorry. I’m freaking out. What if they start laughing and texting about me again?”

“So, what if? Who cares about those iPhonies? We’ll be the ones laughing when I humiliate the phoniest of them all on the track. Now you listen to me, Mango Delight Fuller. You can’t let those bullies get to you. You’re a survivor!”

Mango DelightFracaswell HymanSource

What about emotions? What are the characters feeling?

I stopped so suddenly that Brook slammed into my back.

“Hey! What the … ?”

“Sorry. I’m freaking out. What if they start laughing and texting about me again?”

“So, what if? Who cares about those iPhonies? We’ll be the ones laughing when I humiliate the phoniest of them all on the track. Now you listen to me, Mango Delight Fuller. You can’t let those bullies get to you. You’re a survivor!”

Mango DelightFracaswell HymanSource

And voice? Again there’s a combination of word choice and expanded details to give us a sense of character.

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I stopped so suddenly that Brook slammed into my back.

“Hey! What the … ?”

“Sorry. I’m freaking out. What if they start laughing and texting about me again?”

“So, what if? Who cares about those iPhonies? We’ll be the ones laughing when I humiliate the phoniest of them all on the track. Now you listen to me, Mango Delight Fuller. You can’t let those bullies get to you. You’re a survivor!”

Mango DelightFracaswell HymanSource

Okay, so now you should have a pretty deep x-ray view into this snippet. Time to write your own version.

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