Let’s start with three basic rules, and if you want more, here are a Dozen Rules. And if that’s not enough, here are nine pages of ideas about writing and punctuating Dialogue.

Rule #1: Use quotation marks to indicate the words that are spoken by the characters.

Example: “Help me!” exclaimed the little girl.

Rule #2: Always begin a new paragraph when the speaker changes.


“I am coming home,” Sue announced.

“I am really tired and can’t work anymore.”

“Okay, I think you should do that,” her husband agreed.

Rule #3: Use correct punctuation marks and capitalization.

Example: “May I buy a new pair of shoes?” Lauren asked her mom.

Note that the quotation marks are outside the end punctuation of the quote; the rest of the sentence has its own end punctuation.

If the quote is not a question or exclamation, use a comma and not a period before the second quotation marks.

“I bought a new jacket yesterday,” Tammy said.

That’s enough to get started. On paper or in Docs, write a fable by following the steps listed in these slides, one paragraph at a time.

Youth Voices is an open publishing platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.

CC BY-SA 4.0All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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