How to Write Dialogue in an Essay. Tips and Guide

Using dialogues in your essay is the best and most efficient way to make your essay stand out among all other works. It may even be the thing that will win you a scholarship! Who knows? However, composing dialogues in essays may be challenging, especially if you are new to this sort of writing.

When you start writing a dialogue essay, you have to remember about several important things, such as what the dialogue is, and when and where in your essay it has to be used. Also, it is important to be aware of the specific format of the dialogue essay, follow the punctuation rules and know the specifics of using APA or MLA formatting style for dialogues. Now, let’s take a closer look at all of them.

  1. Dialogue or quotes?

First, make sure you understand the difference between these two. Quotes are used to support a claim or an argument in a text. They must be written word-for-word. Whilst dialogue is just a part of a story that is used to add some creativity and emotional touch to the whole storyline.

Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that dialogues are used in narrative essays because this kind of essay tells us a story. The readers shall see a picture behind the words and dialogues tend to give more depth and vividness to these pictures.

  1. Dealing with quotation marks

We all know that dialogues are separated with quotation marks. However, it may be a bit tricky for you at first not to get confused by them. What you need to remember is that for usual quotes you have to use ordinary quotation marks. For example,

He said, “I don’t like where this is going.”

On the other hand, if you are going to use a quotation inside another quotation, you will have to use single quotation marks. Check the difference here and compare it to the sentence above: He said, “I think she said ‘I don’t like video games’.”

In case your dialogues have several paragraphs, use the quotation marks when you start each paragraph and when you finish the final paragraph only. For example:

He said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. A group of four people, armed and masked, entered the building and ordered us to get on the ground.

“Then, I heard gunshots.”

  1. Punctuation

This is another stumbling stone for many students. However, you only need to follow several easy rules to learn how to write dialogue in an essay.

First of all, the period is to be put inside the quotation marks.

Next, if the punctuation marks are the part of a character’s speech, put those marks inside the quotation marks, too.

In case the punctuation marks are he part of a larger question or exclamation, they have to be put outside the quotation marks.

When using a comma, put it after such verbs as say, ask, etc. And remember that a comma has to be put before the quote!

On the contrary, when verbs like say or ask go after the quote, put a comma at the end of the dialogue inside the quotation marks!

In case you have a separated sentence, one comma has to be put inside the quotation marks of its first part, and another one after such verbs as say, ask, exclaim, etc.

  1. How to format dialogue in an essay?

Many students are afraid of those scary abbreviations of APA and MLA. Indeed, formatting may be not such an easy and pleasant thing. However, if you memorize the following tips, your life will become easier.

For MLA format, everything is surprisingly simple. You have to place each dialogue in another paragraph, and commas are used for separating the dialogue tags.

In case the speech is longer than one paragraph, start each paragraph with a quotation mark. Remember to also put one quotation mark at the end of the last paragraph.

As for the APA format, it requires you to leave dialogue tags and quotes in the same paragraph in case the character’s speech was short. Also, to separate the dialogue tags and the quotes, commas are to be used.

However, if the character’s speech is more than forty words, then the quotation marks have to be placed at the beginning of each paragraph, as well as at the end of the dialogue.

This is only a brief review of the basic rules for dialogue essay, but it’s enough to make your writing good.

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