Doubling Our Punctuation

NOTE: All these articles are based on British grammar and the techniques I used to help myself, they are by no means definitive. A common mistake people make, particularly when writing dialogue, is using multiple punctuation marks such as ‘!?’ or ‘!!!’ or they use capitals and extra punctuation, ‘WHY?!’ Regular readers know I don’t tend […]

Continuing Commas Revisited

NOTE: All these articles are based on British grammar and the techniques I used to help myself, they are by no means definitive. Our final collection of instances with commas are between adjectives, repeated words, and when characters address other characters in dialogue. Although dialogue doesn’t have to be grammatically correct, most people don’t speak grammatically, […]

Commenting on Commas Revisited

NOTE: All these articles are based on British grammar and the techniques I used to help myself, they are by no means definitive. Commas are important in speech, as we’ve discussed before commas mark brief breaths but they also mark the end of the dialogue or when we’re addressing a person. One of the most confusing […]

Breaking a Paragraph Revisited

The basic rule of a paragraph is that we break a paragraph when there’s a change of subject; a new idea is introduced, a new person speaks, the time shifts. This doesn’t mean that paragraphs are purely functional we can also use them to speed or slow the reader’s pace; a long paragraph slows the […]

He Said, She Said, They Said… Revisited

First point of business is that ‘said’ should be used to convey clarity, not as confetti. There’s a school of thought that suggests said can become invisible to the reader but once again it is the rule of repetition: a repeated word creates emphasis. If said is becoming invisible to the reader then in all […]

Are You Still Speaking? Revisited

I keep coming back to the notion that what is unsaid is as important as what is said. This can be something that is implied through non-verbal communication, like fiddling, through what they avoid saying, or through a meaning beyond what the characters’ words. This can sound difficult, and it can be made to sound […]

A Phrasing All Their Own Revisited

People have different ways of phrasing things whether it’s colloquial, individual, or passed down a family. It could be a verbal tic, an unusual saying or unusual grammar, literally anything. Simply because these things aren’t conventional doesn’t mean we can’t give them to our characters, giving them these quirks makes them more real to readers. […]

Building Banter Revisited

We may think of ‘banter’ as intrinsically humorous and it can be but just because characters don’t have a funny relationship doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a back and forth. They could be characters that the read knows hate each other but they have to make the appearance of liking each other which creates a […]

Trimming the Fat Revisited

Part of making speech successful in prose is by cutting out the unnecessary bits. As I’ve mentioned before characters don’t have to say hello every time they walk into a scene and readers will accept it. Other things to watch out for can be repetition, verbosity, too many umms and ahhs. Even if we have […]

Individualising Speech Revisited

When we talk about individualising speech we’re talking about what people say and how they say it. What people say is as important as how they say something but this can be overlooked in favour of the more conspicuous, how they say it. What we mean when we refer to ‘what people say’ is simply […]