Tips

For today’s Diva Tip, we are going to discuss the placement of creative narrative in relation to dialogue. When you replace dialogue tags with creative narrative, the narrative is used to indicate who is speaking. When such dialogue is improperly paragraphed, it can cause chaos.

A common error is jumble up the dialogue, while depending on the dialogue tags to sort it all out.

Wrong:

Alan stared off into the distance. “I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. Sara sighed. “Well, think quick because I want an explanation.”

Don’t do this. The first rule of properly paragraphing dialogue is to give your characters their own paragraph when speaking. It doesn’t matter if you are using creative narrative or dialogue tags.

Right:

Alan stared off into the distance. “I don’t know what to tell you,” he said.

 

Sara sighed. “Well, think quick because I want an explanation.”

The problem of improperly paragraphed dialogue is compounded if you are using creative narrative instead of dialogue tags. Just as you would place a dialogue tag with the dialogue in order to properly attribute it, you must place your creative narrative in the same way.  

Wrong:

Alan stared off into the distance. He ran his fingers through his hair and glanced at Sara. When he saw her glaring at him, his shoulders slumped. “I don’t know what to tell you.” Sara sighed.

 

“Well, think quick because I want an explanation.” Sara’s boyfriend shook his head, grimacing.

 

“What do you want me to say?”

See the problem? Even little issues with creative attribution can cause huge amounts of confusion for readers.

When you have two or more characters speaking and you are using creative narrative to indicate the ownership of the dialogue, you have put the narrative that is attributed to the speaking character with the dialogue.

Right:

Alan stared off into the distance. He ran his fingers through his hair and glanced at Sara. When he saw her glaring at him, his shoulders slumped. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

 

Sara sighed. “Well, think quick because I want an explanation.”

 

Sara’s boyfriend shook his head, grimacing. “What do you want me to say?”

When it comes to dialogue, the way you paragraph it matters. Don’t overlook this issue when writing or revising.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: