Dialogue in Writing Example
Dialogue Example Writing with Dialogue These paragraphs from The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, have been placed in a table to explain who is talking and how to use punctuation. (Narrative is in black. Milo's dialogue is in blue. The Watchdog's dialogue is in red. Punctuation marks are in bold purple to help you see where they are placed.) Character Narrator The story text Punctuation comments
Milo's eyes opened wide, for there in front of him There are no " " because the narrator is describing the action in was a large dog with a perfectly normal head, four this paragraph. feet, and a tail--and the body of a loudly ticking alarm clock. "What are you doing here?" growled the Watchdog. The first " sits next to What. The ? goes right after here. The ? is followed by the ". There is a space after the ". ...view middle of the document...
See this paragraph rewritten below with one set of quote marks. The first " sits next to I. The , goes right after here. The , is followed by the ". There is a space after the ". The e in explained is small. There is a period after Milo. Milo continues talking with, "Can you help me?" Again, Watchdog's spoken words are separated by a black narrative sentence so there are two sets of " ". Again, notice the comma is inside the second quote mark.
"Just killing time," replied Milo apologetically. "You see--"
"KILLING TIME!" roared the dog--so furiously that his alarm went off. "It's bad enough wasting time without killing it." And he shuddered at the thought. "Why are you in the Doldrums anyway-don't you have anywhere to go?" "I was on my way to Dictionopolis when I got stuck here," explained Milo. "Can you help me?"
"Help you! You must help yourself," the dog replied, carefully winding himself with his left hind leg. "I suppose you know why you got stuck." "I guess I just wasn't thinking," said Milo.
Paragraph 4 rewritten to use only one set of quotation marks. Character Watchdog The story text "KILLING TIME! It's bad enough wasting time without killing it. Why are you in the Doldrums anyway--don't you have anywhere to go?" roared the dog--so furiously that his alarm went off. He shuddered at these thoughts. Punctuation comments While this is not how Norton Juster wrote The Phantom Tollbooth, we can see there is now only one set of quotation marks. The three red dialogue sentences are now together. The black narrative sentences are at the end.
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