How to write dialogue in an essay

Using a dialogue, or rather inserting it in your essay, you should follow certain formatting rules, as well as use the basic recommendations on making dialogues to avoid mistakes and make them dynamic, lively and relevant. This “How to write dialogue in an essay” will be helpful for writers who want to craft flawless papers.

Functions of a dialogue for essays

If you are looking for the tips on how to write dialogue in an essay, the first thing to do is to discover why you need conversations in this type of a paper.

So what is a dialogue for? The functions of the dialogue in the written texts are as follows:
  • A dialogue conveys important information
  • A dialogue moves the action forward
  • A dialogue helps reveal the characters ' personality, displays the speaker’s desire, needs and goals
  • A dialogue helps clarify the characters ' motivation as well as their past
  • A dialogue helps to create style and atmosphere for the entire text

Before you write a particular scene, first think about what's going on in it, what is its meaning?

This checklist will help:
  • Where does the action take place?
  • What time of the day is it?
  • What are the characters doing?
  • What do they want?
  • What is their motivation?
  • What actions do they take?
  • How does dialogue reflect the characters ' individual features?

Divide a scene into three acts – Act one, Act two, and the Final act. What happens in every act? How do you think the stage should start and how should it end? How do the desires and goals of the characters change? What should their actions lead to? What do you want to emphasize? How will the ending relate to the next scene? How to convey what is happening visually, with a minimum of conversation?

If a writer can answer these questions, and also knows his characters well, he is able to present their replicas spontaneously and naturally relying on the goals of the characters. In other words, if a hero knows what he is doing in this scene, he usually has something to say.

How to make up an effective dialogue

If something is wrong with the dialogue placement in the essay, especially when you are writing the first draft of the paper, it is not necessary to linger on the dialogue. Write as it is without letup. Keep on writing even if the remarks and conversations of the heroes are imperfect, ugly, or boring.

At this stage, it is important to describe what is happening. You will rewrite later, at the stage of editing the essay. That's when you have to do them seriously, using the following rules:
  • Use short dialogues. Less words, more action. Think about how characters can say all the same, in a more succinct way without losing the meaning. And even better - no words, only actions.
  • Display the conflict of characters in the dialogue. Two characters in the same scene should not agree on the issue.
  • Take away the extras to leave the most essential phrases. Avoid repetitions, names, greetings, goodbyes, interjections, speech clichés, and phrases that do not carry a semantic load.
  • Write a dialogue in the way so that each character will have one’s own voice and manner of speaking.
  • Try to describe the actions of the characters within a conversation.
  • When rewriting a dialogue, think about how it can be presented in an original way. Add a hidden meaning or subtext. If the character says everything he thinks straightforwardly, it will not be interesting for the reader. Rewrite the speech in an allegorical manner.

The dialogue doesn't necessarily have to identify the speakers, but the reader has to understand what you are trying to say. Use only two or three phrases to convey the main idea. After the dialogue, use one or two explanatory sentences.

Common errors in the use of conversations

Dialogues are one of the most problematic areas in such written works as essays. If you want to learn how to write dialogue in an essay, you should be aware of the most common types of mistakes which are:
  • Unnecessary attribution
  • Irrelevant replicas
  • Redundant embellishments

In dialogues, it is especially important to observe the principle of brevity because a few extra words can make a conversation of the heroes sluggish or too pretentious.

Here are the main problems to consider that the writers face by when including dialogues in the text of the essay:


Avoid clogging the dialogue with phrases that do not carry useful information.

Girls said goodbye to each other:

- Bye!

Have a nice day.

- It was very nice to see you!

- Come and visit us!

- Certainly will. We loved it last time.

- I am happy. Well, good-bye!

This conversation can be written in one phrase: "The girls parted".


A dialogue should sound natural. You should avoid using compound sentences consisting of long expressions that are not used in spontaneous speech. Example:

- You need to regularly eat foods rich in calcium because it makes your bones and teeth stronger, otherwise, they will become brittle and the chance of a fracture will increase.

It is better to paraphrase the sentence like that: “Do not forget to eat dairy products so that your body gets the necessary minerals.”

  • Too much attribution

If possible, remove the author's comments in the dialogues: "he said", "she exclaimed", etc.

Extra adverbs and other clarifications


- Where have I put my umbrella? the visitor muttered mumblingly.

In this case, the adverb duplicates the meaning of the verb. The word "mumbled" is Ok.

  • Repeating of the information
  • Incorrect use of foreign expressions

If you are not sure how to spell a phrase or word in a foreign language, consult a professional translator or a native speaker.

  • Too much slang

If your character uses a lot of slang expressions, the reader may not understand it.

Features of a good dialogue in the essay

There is still too little information on how to write dialogue in an essay. Teachers rarely provide you with this knowledge that is why you need to acquire this knowledge on your own. But first, let’s find out how a teacher can assess the use of conversations in your paper.

A well-structured and full dialogue has the following features:
  • It must be absolutely relevant, that is, without it, the author cannot develop the plot or reveal the personality of a hero.
  • Each of the characters must speak their own language. He has favorite words, his own manner of speaking, tone, etc. So you need to think in advance about how to create the replicas, what vocabulary to use, and what level of literacy the hero’s speech will have.
  • You should keep in mind that the characters cannot speak in the same manner to all the people they are communicating with.
  • Let the characters not only speak but also gesticulate, move, grimace, etc.
  • Make sure that the speech of the characters corresponds to the place, time, mood and individual features of the characters.
  • The length of sentences in the dialogues should correspond to the speed of events. In crisis situations, a person speaks briefly; at home by the fireplace can afford long speculations.

Punctuation rules for the dialogues in the essay

Formatting a dialogue is as important as quotation formatting and designing the entire essay. Let’s review the rules for presenting a conversation in the paper. There are two key options to remember – the correct use of punctuation and quotation marks.

Rules for quoting a dialogue:
  • When you are going to include a direct speech in the text use double quotation marks. For example, Once the teacher came into the classroom, he told us, “How is it going, dear friends?”
  • If a dialogue in the essays consists of several paragraphs. You should use quotation marks for each paragraph – at the beginning – and write closing quotation marks once the dialogue is finished. For example, I sighed and replied, “Perhaps we should take this way not to get lost. It is getting dark and cold. “We have one hour left until the sunlight disappears. Let’s walk through this meadow to the river. ”
  • If you need to use a quote within a speaker’s phrase, mark it with single quotation marks. For instance, “During his speech, he often made pauses and whispered secretly, ‘Who knows, who knows...’ Jack said looking back at the front door.
Punctuation rules:
  • An exclamation mark and a question mark go right after the speaker’s words and only then the quotation marks are used. For example, The boy screamed and shouted, “It is not my fault!” The police officer asked, “Where did you see your neighbor last time?”
  • Use a period before the quotation marks if a phrase goes at the end of the statement. For example, She finally said, “This decision is not easy for me but I am not going to take part in the competition.”
  • If the verbs like explained, said, described, exclaimed, muttered, whispered, etc. go before the direct speech, put a comma after them. For example, The driver explained, “I was turning to the left when I noticed that the lady was waving to me.”
  • A comma is inside the quotation marks if the quote goes first in the sentence. For example, “I do not remember that Spanish girl you are talking about,” dad replied.
  • If you use the above-mentioned verbs between the quotes, put a comma after them. For example, “Hey” he said, “Are you the guy who won the skiing competition two years ago?”

If you use these universal rules on how to write dialogue in an essay, the teacher will appreciate it a lot. As this task requires a student to get focused on details and follow the direct speech rules. Have a nice day and inspiration for producing an outstanding and accurate paper!

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