Dialogue can do things for your paper that nothing else can. Used well, it characterizes people with one sentence better than you could do with an entire paragraph of explanation. It adds variety and interest, it speeds up the pace,

In the true spirit of Show not Tell, it lets your readers hear evidence and then judge for themselves what to make of a situation. If you tell us that a character was upset, that’s one thing. But show their reddening face, their clenched fists, and their words—"Get yer sorry [hind end] out o’ my house before I…", well, readers have no more room for doubt.

In formal papers, dialogue (called quotes) can protect you. If you say something controversial, your readers may dislike or judge you (see ethos) and thus make your paper less effective. But if you quote someone else as having said it, you’re safe and you still got your point across.

Five keys are critically important to build effective dialogue:

You'll find good examples of dialogue in most of these essays.


Main Index | Multi-Genre | Persuasive