There are a few general structural rules to consider when writing fiction. Of course, all rules within creative writing are meant to played with, but these are some good general guidelines to follow if you want your reader to understand the flow. I, personally, wouldn’t spend too much time trying to come up with ways to break these structural suggestions.
If you’re just starting out with writing, these tips would be great for you to take a look at. They’re a good starting place.
Each new paragraph should begin with an indentation most easily achieved by pressing the “TAB” button on your keyboard.
- Paragraphs Beginning/Ending
Paragraphs of prose begin or end as the idea or topic of the paragraph changes. If you are writing from the perspective of a character and switch to the perspective of another, you would need to start a new paragraph.
Each time a different character starts talking, start a new paragraph.
When characters are speaking, always put their words in quotations.
Unless a question has been asked, use a comma at the end of the dialogue before the final quotation marks. Exception: if you are finishing that paragraph at the end of that dialogue, use a period or other ending punctuation. Always use the punctuation at the end of dialogue inside the quotation marks.
It is standard form to use “he/she said” at the end of dialogue. Rather than saying “he/she screamed”. Use the narrative that comes after the “he/she said” to describe the intensity. This is not a rule, but it is the generally accepted way of writing dialogue. Of course, there are times when spicing it up with: she screamed, she shouted, he yelled, he cried, etc.
“I really love reading these writing tips,” Ginny said as she gave Glen a high-five.
“I know, eh? They’re great,” Glen said. “Sean is amazing.”
“Quick! Go and get the dogs. They’re on the ice again,” Sean said, crying out to Glen who was closest to the door.
Exception Number Two:
You may not be including a dialogue tag (he said/she said) after the dialogue. You may, instead, choose to go from dialogue to action. In this instance, use one of three terminating punctuation marks inside the quotation mark (period, exclamation point, question mark) to end the dialogue and start into the narrative action.
“I don’t know if you realize how beautiful you are.” He wrapped his arms around Walker, the big German Shepherd, and hugged him tightly. “I love you.” He pulled away from the hug, so he could kiss the dog on his soft nose before hugging him again.
- Dialogue Part 2
Another important factor in dialogue is that you do not have to use proper grammar when people are speaking, nor do you have to use proper spelling. It’s about dialect, phonetics and character. How would your character say it? It is best to get the natural way the characters will speak. There’s no requirement for full sentences when writing the voice of a character.