Following the Dialogue

Hi folks,

Recently I’ve been asked again, How the heck do I know who’s speaking if the author doesn’t tell you?  Actually, that’s a valid question, for the written word can often be confusing.  As readers, since our world is permeated with information, we can often scan much of what we read.  We miss a lot that way.

So, here’s what to look for if you’re not sure who is speaking.  We have two speakers, Jin and Joan.  Jim is speaking.  Watch for the quotation marks at the beginning and end of the speech.

“I just can’t understand you,” said Jim. (easy right, I told you who was speaking.”  “Joan, why can’t you ever get this thing right?”  (still easy, by using her name you know it’s still him.  Now for a hard one.)

“I did get it right.  All you have to do is take a close look, and read the darn screen.  The instructions are right there for you.

“Good lord, I can’t understand why you won’t read the instructions.”

(The quotation marks at the beginning tell you it’s dialogue.  He’s accused her, and here she defends herself so we know it’s a different speaker.  There are two paragraphs of her speech here so the first does not have the enclosing quotation marks at the end.  That tells you she has more to say.  The second paragraph begins with quotation marks so you know it’s the dialogue continued, but this one has the enclosing quotation marks at the end to tell you she’s finished speaking)

Clear as mud right?  If you skimmed over that you’ve missed the good stuff, so read it again. 🙂

So long for now.  Let me know if this helps at all.



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