|How to Make Characters
in Your Stories
by Whispersecret ©
Why Use Dialogue in the First Place?
<clears her throat and taps the microphone with her finger> Hi, Iím Whispersecret. <waves and smiles> I am going to attempt to explain how you can write dialogue in stories. Hopefully, by the time Iím done, you will be able to confidently use quotation marks, commas, ending marks (.?!), and tags (he said/she exclaimed) correctly. There is even a "final exam" at the end you can take to see if you understand.
First, I wanted to talk about why using dialogue is critical for stories. The good news is that Laurel has almost 2000 stories for readers to look at. The bad news is that if your story is difficult to read because of grammar/punctuation errors and lack of good dialogue, there are 1999 stories other than yours that they can click on instead.
Some contributors to Literotica refrain from having their characters actually talk, and their stories get read. They may even get good response. <frowns slightly> But I think those stories are lacking for many reasons.
REASON 1: Stories that have long, uninterrupted blocks of text are difficult to read. The human eye needs that white space. It helps the reader track the lines easier and prevents migraines! Havenít you read those stories yourself, where you lose your place in the paragraph? Itís probably because youíre looking at a solid wall of text that has nothing that your eye can use as a sort of marker or guidepost. Real dialogue can provide that necessary white space, making it easier for your story to be read. (Proper paragraphing helps too.)
REASON 2: You are writing erotica to entertain readers with a tale that includes sex. <grins> (If youíre writing only to arouse the reader, thatís porn.) Pure narrative with no conversation at all can be very boring, and for an erotic story, thatís counterproductive!
Take this example:
I asked her to get on her knees and suck my dick. She told me she wanted that more than anything! Then she took me in her hot mouth and I told her how incredible it felt.
<rolls her eyes> That is what passes for dialogue in some stories. It is not. Those three sentences arenít enough to be considered truly boring and monotonous, but if you have a whole story like that, believe me <taps her chest>, it can get tedious.
How much more interesting is it to read this instead:
"Get on your knees, baby, please. I want to watch you suck my cock."
"I want that so much, Matt. God, I want to feel your hot prick in my mouth!"
"Fuck...oh, FUCK! That's incredible...don't stop...suck it harder, baby..."
Can't you just hear the desperation in their voices? The naked lust? And I didn't even add tags to describe their voices, the expressions on their faces, etc. Thatís coming up next.
REASON 3: Dialogue provides a punch to a story that canít be given any other way. Look again at the example I gave you above. Let me add a little to it and see how much more effective it is. See if you come away with a little bit more than the last time.
"Get on your knees, baby, please," I begged Yvonne in a hoarse voice. "I want to watch you suck my cock."
"I want that so much, Matt," she said breathlessly. "God, I want to feel your hot prick in my mouth!"
I panted as she took me between her lips. I could barely speak. "Fuck...oh, FUCK! That's incredible...don't stop...suck it harder, baby..."
I hope you saw a difference. I hope you FELT a difference! <fans herself> This time you know that Matt is so aroused that his voice is hoarse. Yvonne is breathless; she really wants him.
REASON 4: You can communicate much more about your characters by choosing the EXACT WORDS they utter. For the next example Iím going to have three people say basically the same thingóthat someone was wearing something that wasnít the current fashion. See if you get a different impression of each person based on the actual words that come out of their mouths:
"I was TOTALLY blown away. Her outfit was like so YESTERDAY. I mean, this IS the new millennium, you know."
"Iím telling you, everybody was talking about it. How could she possibly have worn that outdated ensemble? It was positively passe."
"Huh, sugar, I canít tell you how silly she looked. Like she raided her grandmaís attic!"
Did you get a feel for those three people? Did you even create a picture of them in your head? I hope so. You can say about your characters by putting specific, well-chosen words in their mouths.
Iím sure Iíve missed some other reasons why dialogue is important to stories, but hopefully you get the idea. Quotation marks NEED to be there. Make friends with them.
Quotation Marks and A Little Bit about Commas
Now, Iím actually going to teach you some rules. Stop rolling your eyes!
Periodically Iíll insert little "tests" so you can try it yourself. I recommend you actually use a pen and paper to write the sentence the way you think it should be. This will help cement the skill in your head. Iíll have several returns to separate the "quiz" from the answer so you arenít so tempted to peek.
When I teach school children about quotation marks, the first thing I tell them is that whatever is inside the quotation marks is EXACTLY WHAT COMES OUT OF THE CHARACTERíS MOUTH. If you remember that one thing, youíll do fine! Anything outside of the quotation marks is part of the narrative.
Hereís a sentence without quotation marks:
I donít swallow cum she said.
Where do the quotation marks go? The marks should "hug" the exact words that come out of her mouth.
"I donít swallow cum" she said.
Now, something is still missing. The comma. Usually you have to set off the quotation from the tag (he said, she replied, etc.) with a comma. (Iíll get into exceptions to this later.) The comma goes INSIDE the quotation marks.
"I donít swallow cum," she said.
Try it yourself. Here is a sentence without punctuation:
Your cock canít possibly be ten inches long the doctor said.
Which one is correct?
A. "Your cock canít possibly be nine inches long," the doctor said.
B. "Your cock canít possibly be nine inches long" the doctor said.
C. "Your cock canít possibly be nine inches long, the doctor said."
The answer was A. Did you get it right? Good for you! <claps>
Rule 1. Quotation marks bracket the exact words the character is saying.
Rule 2. If your quotation comes before the tag, the comma goes inside the quotation marks.
More about Commas and Capital Letters
Sometimes the tag comes before the quote. If it does, you still need a comma. This time, the comma goes directly after the tag, OUTSIDE of the quotation marks:
She said, "They had an orgy ."
Did you happen to notice that the above sentence has TWO capitals? Iím sure you remember your first grade teacher telling you that every sentence must start with a capital letter. That is why "She" is capitalized in that sentence. However, when youíre quoting someone in a story, you have to capitalize the first word they utter too. That is why "They" is capitalized in that sentence.
You try it:
Larry said her tits were like cannonballs
Which is right?
A. Larry said "her tits were like cannonballs."
B. Larry said, "Her tits were like cannonballs."
C. Larry said, "her tits were like cannonballs."
The answer is B. Give yourself a pat on the back if you got it right. That was complicated.
Every sentence needs an ending mark (a period, an exclamation point, or a question mark.) The ending mark acts like a stop sign to tell the reader that the sentence is done and a new sentence is next. In dialogue, the ending mark goes INSIDE the quotation marks:
Larry said, "Her tits were like cannonballs!"
Larry said, "Her tits were like cannonballs?"
A. Dolores cried, "Donít touch me there"!
B. Dolores cried "Donít touch me there!"
C. Dolores cried, "Donít touch me there!"
The answer was C. J
Rule 3. If your tag comes first, the comma is outside of the quotation marks.
Rule 4. If your tag comes first, capitalize the first word that is uttered by the character.
Rule 5. If your tag comes first, the ending mark for the sentence goes inside the quotation marks.
More About Ending Marks
Take a look at this sentence:
Is that a banana in your pocket she asked
Shoot! This is complicated, isnít it! Where does the question mark go? <raises her eyebrows> Well, letís put the quotation marks in first. Remember they hug the exact words being spoken.
"Is that a banana in your pocket" she asked
Good. Now, remember when I told you that usually the quotation is set off from the tag by a comma, but that there would be exceptions? Here is an exception. She is asking a question, so you need a question mark instead of a comma. The question mark goes INSIDE the quotation marks. Itís supposed to punctuate the actual question being asked:
"Is that a banana in your pocket?" she asked
This sentence is still missing one thing. The entire sentence needs an ending mark too.
"Is that a banana in your pocket?" she asked.
There. Itís exactly the same with an exclamation point:
"It IS a banana!" she exclaimed in disappointment.
You try it. Which is correct?
A. "How many shaved pussies have you licked" he asked?
B. "How many shaved pussies have you licked," he asked?
C. "How many shaved pussies have you licked?" he asked.
D. "How many shaved pussies have you licked he asked?"
The answer is C. J
Suppose the tag is first. Itís even simpler. Thereís only one ending mark, and it still goes INSIDE the quotation marks:
She asked him candidly, "Will you fuck me, please?"
Rule 6. If your character is asking a question or exclaiming something, the ending mark goes INSIDE the quotation marks. If the tag follows the quote, you need to add a period.
The Tag in the Middle
Weíve gone through tags in the beginning. (I said, "I love you.") Weíve covered tags following the quote. ("I love you," I said.) Now Iím going to teach you about tags that sit smack-dab in the middle of the quote.
Hereís a sentence with no punctuation:
No Kyle said with a laugh sheís never been with another woman
First, letís put the quotation marks in. Remember, they go around whatever words come out of Kyleís mouth. Itís tricky, though, because he says something, then you have the tag identifying Kyle as the laughing speaker, and then he says something else.
"No" Kyle said with a laugh "sheís never been with another woman"
Now, remember how quotes have to be set off from the tag with a comma? In this case, you need two.
"No," Kyle said with a laugh, "sheís never been with another woman."
You try it:
I would like to make love to you the man said right here, right now
Choose the right one:
The answer is A. J
Now suppose Kyle says something longer:
No, sheís never been with another woman Kyle said with a laugh as far as I know sheís not bi-curious at all
In the above example Kyle says one complete sentence, then thereís the tag, and then he says something else thatís another complete sentence. Here are where the quotation marks go:
"No, sheís never been with another woman" Kyle said with a laugh "as far as I know sheís not bi-curious at all"
Now, I want you to look at the above example and see how many sentences you see. <waits a moment for you to figure it out>
There are two. Where you divide them is up to you. You can either connect the tag to the first quote or the second.
If you attach the tag to the first quote, you need a period after "laugh". That makes the next quote a complete sentence on its own, so it needs its own capital and ending mark:
"No, sheís never been with another woman," Kyle said with a laugh. "As far as I know sheís not bi-curious at all."
If you attach the tag to the second quote, it should be this way:
"No, sheís never been with another woman." Kyle said with a laugh, "As far as I know sheís not bi-curious at all."
That reads a little awkwardly, though. Still, itís up to you.
Hereís your chance to see if you understand:
I canít believe it he said with a grin I actually saw her panties
There are two correct answers. Here are your choices:
Answer: C and D J
Rule 7. If you put the tag in the middle of a quote, you can attach it to the first quote or the second. Follow the other rules for adding punctuation. Make sure each sentence has its own ending mark.
Generally, every time someone new speaks you start a new paragraph. On the Web, that means a double return, not indenting. Hereís an example from my story, "Hostile Takeover":
"Tired?" Rockwellís deep voice startled her out of her reverie. He stood not two feet away. Her father was busy lining up his next shot.
"What?" She sat upright on the barstool. She must have sunk down during her daydream.
"You looked like you were falling asleep. Donít stay up on my account."
Remarkably, her father agreed. "Absolutely. If youíre tired, baby, go to bed."
"All right." She edged away from Rockwell, smiling nervously. "Good night, Mr. Rockwell."
"Good night, Fiona." He paused and smiled at her, his hand wrapped around his pool cue. "Sleep well."
Now suppose one person is saying a lot. Then it gets more tricky. You have to apply a different rule for paragraphing by looking at the content of what theyíre saying. In general, paragraphs are made up of several sentences that talk about one idea. In stories, the sentences may revolve around an action, rather than an idea.
Hereís another example from my story, where a character is saying quite a lot. The first paragraph deals with her thoughts about another character. The second paragraph is a different set of ideas relating to something she did.
"My God, when we went riding that day, I was trying to figure out how to seduce you! Is that your game? Is that how you really get your kicks? Iíll bet thatís it. You find a virgin to be your sexual Pygmalion. Then the minute she seems to act like the sleazy slut you were training her to be, you shun her and watch her make a fool of herself. Groveling at your feet for one lousy kiss.
"Well, fuck you! I donít want to be a whore! I did those two guys because I had to! I didnít want to. I didnít like it. I hated it!"
Look at the end of the first paragraph. Notice that there are no closing quotation marks! Ooooh! <widens her eyes> "But, Whispersecret," you say, "that kinds of goes against the rule stating that quotation marks hug whatís being said, doesnít it?" Yep. But thatís the way it is. <shrugs> You omit the closing quotes on the previous paragraph to indicate that the same person is still speaking.
Rule 8. Each time someone new speaks you start a new paragraph (double indent).
Rule 9. If one character has a long speech that stretches over more than one paragraph, you only need the closing quotation marks at the end of the last paragraph.
The Final Exam
Thatís it. <grins> That is all I can think of to tell you about the rules of dialogue and punctuation. Now, <puts her hands on her hips> letís see if youíve really got it. Cut and paste the following sentences into an email. Punctuate them correctly. Mail them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Iíll correct your work and give you a grade!
You get one point for each thing you correctly add or fix.
You will lose a point for every item you add that isnít necessary.
You will need to add quotation marks, commas, question marks, exclamation points and capitals.
Youíll also have to double return to indicate new paragraphs.
Good luck! <winks>
Total: 51 points. Good luck! Happy writing!
|A wonderfully help guide by Whispersecret.|
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