Ways of writing speech and dialogue

So far we’ve explored the kinds of things characters do with their speech

Now let’s look at some of the mechanics of how we write speech on the page or screen, and blend it with action and tags.

Before we move on, let's just check that you know how to punctuate speech and dialogue correctly.

The snippets below are proofreading exercises.

When you click Start, we will scramble some of the words and all the punctuation.

  • You need to go through and correct everything within two minutes.
  • You can peek to see the original, but only 10 times.
  • If you run out of time or peeks, you have to start again. 😬

It will help you to read the snippet a couple of times and look closely at the punctuation.

When you're ready, click Start!

Proofread this snippet

"What's hardest about punctuating speech?" said Sal.

"Knowing where to put commas," said Mac.

"That is hard."

"Yes," said Mac, "especially when the speaker's name breaks it up."

Proofread this snippet

Sal shouted, "That's so helpful, Mac!" and gave him a hug.

"One more thing!" said Mac, urgently. "New paragraph for each speaker."



Dialogue punctuation can be super finicky!

Hopefully, that was good practice. If you really don't want to do those exercises, you can skip this page using the table of contents.