February 6, 2008 Archives
Demonstrate your ability to write, and properly punctuate, a dialog between two or more characters.
- On one level, I am checking to see whether you know the rules about paragraphing, where the punctuation marks go, and how to use dialog tags (such as "he said") effectively.
- Include at least one speech that continues for more than one paragraph (so that you can demonstrate you know the proper way to punctuate such a speech).
- There is no workbook page to download -- just submit a one-page scene that is mostly dialog.
- On another level, I want to see whether you can SHOW using dialog effectively.
John hurried desperately into the room, his face white as a sheet, his chest heaving. "I.... I.... I think I saw something," he gasped, barely able to get the words out because he was breathing so hard.The above example is wasteful.
John burst into the room "I... I think I saw something."We don't need to be told John "hurried desperately" or that he was out of breath. We also don't need to be told "he gasped" (because "I... I" represents the gasping well enough), and we don't need "he said" either, since John is already the only character mentioned in the paragraph.
We could also revise it this way
John burst into the room. "I think I saw something," he gasped.The dialog tag "he gasped" is sufficient to convey the way he speaks, so it would be redundant to record every stutter and stammer in his speech. If, however, your character is ordinarily an eloquent speaker, you might wish to transcribe a stammer, in oder to SHOW that something is unusually meaningful to the character.
More guidelines about using quoted speech:
- Revise your original submission according to the suggestions I make (If I simply ask you to check the assignment instructions, chance are you missed something very important, such as turning in a few sentences instead of a whole page of prose dialog. If you don't see what you missed, feel free to ask me.)
- Write another page of dialog (a completely new situation).
- Staple your new work on top of your old work; resubmit the original paper with my comments.