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How to Format Dialogues in a Novel

In previous articles, we have seen some useful suggestions for creating realistic dialogues. We wrote about the function of dialogue and the importance of subtext. These are essential points to remember because they can help you write dialogues.

But are there any particular suggestions about formatting dialogues? We talk about how to format a dialogue in this article.

Tips for formatting dialogues in a novel

Knowing how to format dialogues in a novel is crucial for clarity and readability. When done effectively, it helps to bring characters to life and makes the narrative more engaging for readers. Here are some key tips to consider when formatting dialogues:

  1. Start a new paragraph for each speaker. This is essential for clarity. Beginning a new paragraph whenever a different character speaks helps readers to easily distinguish between speakers and follow the conversation smoothly.
  2. Use quotation marks. Quotation marks are used to indicate when a character is speaking. It’s important to use double quotation marks (” “) for dialogue and single quotation marks (‘ ‘) for quotes within dialogue. This standard convention helps readers identify spoken words.
  3. Punctuate dialogue correctly. Proper punctuation is essential for clarity and understanding. Commas and periods should always be placed inside the quotation marks. Additionally, dialogue should end with a comma, question mark, or exclamation point, depending on the context. Other punctuation marks, such as colons and semicolons, can also be used within dialogue, depending on the structure of the sentence.
  4. Use dialogue tags. Dialogue tags are phrases that attribute speech to specific characters, such as “he said” or “she asked.” These tags help readers identify who is speaking and understand the tone or context of the dialogue. However, it’s important to use them judiciously to avoid repetition or unnecessary distractions.
  5. Utilize action beats. Instead of relying solely on dialogue tags, consider incorporating action beats or descriptions to indicate who is speaking or how they are speaking. Action beats are actions or gestures performed by characters during a conversation. They not only break up the dialogue but also provide additional context and contribute to characterization.
  6. Consistency. Establishing a formatting style from the outset and consistently maintaining it throughout your storytelling journey ensures a cohesive and seamless reading experience for your audience, fostering engagement and immersion in the narrative world you create.

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

Peter F.Drucker

bibisco helps you to create perfect dialogues

Writing dialogues is not a simple job. A writer cannot simply be limited to creating dialogues and inspiring everyday life conversation.

With bibisco novel writing software, you can create your narration, characters, and dialogues respecting what we learned in our Dialogue Series.

bibisco's chapter section - how to format dialogues in a novel
bibisco’s chapter section

Conclusions: how to format dialogues in a novel

Mastering the art of dialogue formatting in a novel is essential to ensure clarity and ease of reading.

Following the principles outlined in this guide, authors can structure dialogues within their novels, elevating the readability and drawing readers deeper into the narrative.

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