Dialogue Example Writing with Dialogue These paragraphs from The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, have been placed in a table to explain who is talking and how to use punctuation. (Narrative is in black. Milo's dialogue is in blue. The Watchdog's dialogue is in red. Punctuation marks are in bold purple to help you see where they are placed.) Character Narrator The story text Punctuation comments
Milo's eyes opened wide, for there in front of him There are no " " because the narrator is describing the action in was a large dog with a perfectly normal head, four this paragraph. feet, and a tail--and the body of a loudly ticking alarm clock. "What are you doing here?" growled the Watchdog. The first " sits next to What. The ? goes right after here. The ? is followed by the ". There is a space after the ". The g in growled is small. A period is after watchdog. This one sentence has a question mark and a period. The first " sits next to Just. The , goes right after time. The , is followed by the ". There is a space after the ". The r in replied is small. There is a period after apologetically. Milo continues talking with "You see--" Three red dialogue sentences are broken up by black narrative sentences. The Watchdog does all of the talking. The topic does not change, so this is one paragraph. Notice there are three sets of " " because narrative separates the red sentences. See this paragraph rewritten below with one set of quote marks. The first " sits next to I. The , goes right after here. The , is followed by the ". There is a space after the ". The e in explained is small. There is a period after Milo. Milo continues talking with, "Can you help me?" Again, Watchdog's spoken words are separated by a black narrative sentence so there are two sets of " ". Again, notice the comma is inside the second quote mark.