How to Write Dialogue in Books?: A Step-by-Step Guide

Many new authors struggle with writing dialogue. After all, how do you capture how people speak in a way that is both realistic and interesting? And how do you make sure that your characters sound distinct from one another? If you’re having trouble with writing dialogue, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you write dialogue like a pro.

First, let’s start with the basics. When it comes to writing dialogue, there are three things you need to keep in mind: punctuation, formatting, and grammar. Here’s a quick overview of each:


All dialogue needs to be enclosed within quotation marks. The first time a character speaks, their name should be written in all caps and followed by a colon.

For example:

“I’m so hungry,” said John.

After the first time a character speaks, their name can be written in lowercase letters and followed by a comma. For example:

“I’m so hungry,” said John. “I could eat a horse.”

If two characters are speaking at the same time, each piece of dialogue needs to be enclosed within its own set of quotation marks. For example:

“I’m so hungry,” said John. “I could eat a horse.”

“You’re not the only one,” said Jane. “I’m starving.”

If a character is thinking to themselves or speaking quietly, their dialogue can be enclosed within italics. For example:
John was so hungry he thought, I could eat a horse.


Whenever a character speaks, their dialogue should start on its own line and be indented five spaces from the left margin.

For example:

John was so hungry he thought, I could eat a horse.

But he knew that would be impolite, so he said out loud, “Excuse me, do you have any food?”


Just because someone is speaking doesn’t mean the rules of grammar go out the window. Make sure all your dialogue is properly punctuated and uses proper verb tense. For example:

“I am so hungry,” said John. Not “I’m so hungry,” said John.

“I was walking to the store,” said John. Not “I walk to the store,” said John.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of writing dialogue, let’s move on to some more advanced tips and tricks.

Think about your characters’ voices before you start writing Dialogue is an important tool for conveying character personality and adding color to your story, but it can also be one of the most challenging aspects of writing fiction—especially if you’re just starting out as an author.

That’s why it’s important to think about your characters’ voices before you start writing their dialogue. What does each character sound like? Do they have unique cadences or speech patterns? How does their background affect how they speak? By giving your characters well-defined voices from the beginning, you’ll give yourself a leg up when it comes time to start writing their dialogue later on in the drafting process.

Write out your characters’ dialogue in full before moving on This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one that many writers struggle with—myself included! Once you’ve given your characters well-defined voices in your head (or on paper), it can be tempting to just summarize what they say instead of actually writing out their dialogue in full sentences—especially if you’re worried about getting bogged down in the details during the drafting process.

However, if you want your book’s dialogue to pack an emotional punch and sound naturalistic, it’s important to take the time to write out your characters’ exchanges in full before moving on with your story. Use dialect sparingly (if at all) Unless you’re Joss Whedon or William Goldman—in which case, more power to you!—it’s generally best to use dialect sparingly (if at all) in fiction writing.

Overdoing it can quickly become distracting for readers and make your characters seem caricature-like rather than real people. Keep an ear out for naturalistic dialogue In addition to reading books in your genre (which will give you a good sense of what types of dialogue are common), try eavesdropping on real conversations whenever you get the chance—whether you’re sitting in a coffee shop or standing in line at the grocery store.

Practice makes perfect As with anything else worth doing well, practice makes perfect when it comes to writing great fiction dialogue. So keep writing and strive to get better with each new project You do. And don’t forget To have fun along the way!

Writing great fiction dialogue takes practice, but it’s also important To have fun along The journey! With these helpful tips, You’ll Be Well On Your Way To Writing naturalistic, believable Dialogue In no time.