How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters In A Story

How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters_featured image

Dialogue, What It Is and What to Use It For?

Dialogue is an essential part of any creative writing, such as novels, movies or plays. Dialogue can be used to tell the story, give character development, and create mood. It also helps readers feel like they are a part of the scene being described.

One way to use dialogue in storytelling is to make sure that it moves the story forward by revealing new information about a character or what has happened in the plot.

Dialogue can also be used for humor and for creating tension between two characters without directly stating it in narration.

Conflict and tension are essential in every scene of a story and dialogue between two characters can help to reveal conflict. A writer might use dialogue to tell the reader how two characters feel about each other.

This can be done by having the characters engage in conversations that reveal one character’s thoughts and feelings toward another character, if the dialogues are written well.

For example, a person might say something like “I don’t think I will ever trust you again” if they are angry with someone else.

Dialogue also can be used to create a mood in the story. A writer might describe how two characters are smiling or snarling as they speak, the sound of their voices, or another way to get readers to feel certain emotions.
what is dialogue between two characters

Who are these two characters?


Writing dialogue – know your characters

The nature of the dialogue between two people depends on what they want from each other. Are they friends, lovers or enemies?

The kind of dialogue they have depends on their relationship with each other:

  • Are they talking for the first time or for the thousandth time?
  • Are they laughing and telling jokes or are they screaming insults at each other?
  • Will the two people remain strangers or will they become friends?
  • Or maybe they will be enemies and try to kill each other?

Dialogue that maintains friendship helps readers feel they are a part of the scene, especially when the writer tells them which characters are speaking.

If the two characters have never met, then it is sometimes best to have their dialogue be short and to the point. If this is not possible due to length or some other reason than it is best for them to have a history with each other before they start talking.

What do they want in the dialogue?

What the character want from each other guides the conversation. Their own style of speaking affects the way they speak to each other.

Two characters might be having a serious conversation about a problem that threatens their relationship or the life of one of them.

This is the time to have them say things directly, without prevarication or using humor. They are just trying to solve a problem, so they don’t have time for small talk.

However, if two characters are in love and one is telling the other how much they adore each other then humor is appropriate. In this case, the dialogues can be more lively and fun.

The dialogues will also give readers clues about who is telling the humor to the other character.

8 Types Of Dialogue Between Characters In Stories








Each opion is different

Persuade other character

Resolve differences

Understand each other


One or both characters ignorant

Contribution of facts found

Prove/disprove hypothesis

Obtain common knowledge


Consider future consequences

Promote his own golas

Action based on thought

Helps create personal priorities


Character's interests are different

Gains based on self-interest

Fair settlement

Both parties in harmony

Seeking Information

One character lacks some information

Get missing information

Information transfer

Help in reaching goals


Conflict between characters

Humiliate and prove the other is wrong

Can reveal a deeper conflict

Dialogue releases character's emotions


Opposite viewpoints

Persuasion with logic

Display strong arguments of both sides

Disseminate information

Pedagogical Approach

One character is ignorant of some facts

One teaches, other learns

Transferring knowledge between two characters

Expansion of knowledge

Resource: Douglas Walton

Dialogue: How Do You Write It?

What do characters want from each other?
How do you write dialogue between friends?

How do you write dialogue in a story?

There are two faces to writing dialogue – style and format. The style is character dependent and is guided by many factors, such as accent , social standing, and personality.

There are different style of dialogue for the main character than for secondary characters, and if the characters are speaking a foreign language, then the dialogue is different too.

Format is less variable. Normally,dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks, though in some situations it is not enclosed in quotation marks. It is always written in complete sentences.

“I don’t believe we’ve been introduced”, the bank manager said.

In some countries only one apostrophe is used:

‘I don’t believe we’ve been introduced’, the bank manager said.

In other countries a simple dash is used:

-I don’t believe we’ve been introduced, the bank manager said.

By far the most common convention is to use quotation marks.

How do you write dialogue in a narrative?

A narrative is another way of describing the prose use to tell a story or series of events, so it’s basically the same as story and dialogue is handled the same way.

How to write dialogue between two characters example

June turned around as Eric entered the room.
“Oh, I’m sorry”, he said, “I didn’t see you there.”
“That’s OK,” she replied, “I’m glad of the company.”

There are few guidelines for writing dialogue between two people. It needs to be clear who is speaking , which is normally done by using a name, or ‘he said’, ‘she said’.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘he said’ except that it can get a little repetitive if you’re not careful. Try to mix it up a bit, using the people’s names as well.

Actions can also be used to denote who speaks, for example:

“I’m really pleased to see you.” Jane gave him a knowing look and raised her skirt above her knee.

Dialogue That Gives Your Characters Personality

A character’s speech should be very distinctive, so that the reader can know who is speaking by the way the words are delivered.

A strong accent can be shown, or a speech impediment or habit. These all help the write to do away with adding too many speech directions such as ‘he said’.

What To Do When Writing Dialogue: Tips and Tricks

How to write thoughts in a story
How to interrupt someone when writing dialogue

Use dialogue to drive the story forward

Dialogue is one of the most powerful tools you have for drawing readers into your story. It does this in two ways. First, it gets your characters talking to each other.

Talking sparks the imagination and gets readers involved in the story world. It also moves things along and keeps things interesting, because dialogue has a flow.

Action can be described using dialogue:

“My God, the railway station has just blown up!”

Dialogue in the mind – monologue
Internal dialogue – a character talking to himself!

It’s quite possible to talk to oneself in a novel – we do it in real life all the time. This is called ‘monologue’ and it’s another powerful tool for fiction writers.

You can use your hero’s monologue to reveal his thoughts as he or she works through a problem, or to get the readers involved in the story by getting them to wonder what will happen next.

When you’re writing dialogue between two characters keep in mind the fact that it should look like a real conversation. The characters should finish one another’s sentences, interrupt each other and so on.

How do you write dialogue between friends?

Dialogue between friends is less formal and is often sparse. Friend know each other’s language and sense of humour, or if they don’t know them well, they get to know them by the way they speak.

In dialogue between friends there is often lots of humour and teasing and both characters generally have similar personalities. This means that the dialogue doesn’t have to be descriptive.

Friends don’t have to explain themselves too much because they know each other well and they recognise each other’s inflections and styles of speaking.

How do you write dialogue between people who don’t know each other?

If you are writing dialogue between people who don’t know each other, both characters will be more formal and cautious in their speech.

They may deliberately speak in a certain way to be polite. If they’re not sure of each other they will tend to stick to neutral subjects such as the weather, rather than personal issues or controversial topics.

Dialogue Between Enemies

Dialogue between enemies in a novel is often full of tension. Especially if the enemies are from different groups or nations. For example, diplomats talking after a war has ended.

Enemies also tend to have a lot to say about each other, which means that they will frequently interrupt each other and try to put the other person down.

In dialogue between enemies there is often far more description and much more explanation than there is in friendly conversations or formal conversations.

How to interrupt someone in dialogue?

An em-dash is used to show interrupted speech:

“What do you think you’re—”
“None of your business!” Joan cut him off.

How do you write thoughts in a story?

There are two common ways of writing thoughts:

Use a single inverted comma
Use italics

I find that italics get a bit tedious to read if there is a lot of text. The best way to show thoughts in writing is to keep them short.

Do you write thoughts in quotation marks?

You can do, but in my experience they should be kept as separate as possible so that the reader doesn’t get confused.

Do you write thoughts in italics?

Italics is my favorite way of showing thought, because it shows that the thoughts are not part of the spoken word.

How to write thoughts in a screenplay?

A movie script shows only things that an audience can see. Never try to write thoughts in your screenplay – it will be rejected.

The only exception is if the narrator is the main character thinking about the past and an actor is speaking the thoughts.

Related Questions:

What is the dialogue between two characters called?

Dialogue is simply a conversation between two characters but in written form. Dialogue is another word to describe speaking.

Dialogue can be of many types – examples:

  • Outer dialogue – between two or more people (characters)
  • Inner dialogue – this is the character’s mental process i.e. he’s talking to himself
  • Interrogative – some asking agressive questions i.e. interrogation
  • Persuasive dialogue
  • Hateful …

How do you write dialogue example?

The simplest way to write dialogue is to enclose speech or conversation between inverted commas in this way:

“How are you, John”, Mary asked.

“Very well, thankyou,” John replied.

What is a written conversation between two characters?

It’s literally writing down the words that would normally be spoken between two or more characters in a story, novel, play or movie.

It’s supposed to represent normal everyday conversation, but it’s not like it at all. Normal conversation includes lots of superfluous words and niceties that don’t belong on the written page.

The idea of conversation, or dialogue, in fiction can have several functions but the main one is to move the story forward. The story is everything. What happens next? has to be in the mind of the reader.

How do you start dialogue?

Don’t use useless introductory words about the weather or asking about someone’s health. Get to the point as quickly as you can.

In real life this would be rude, but in creative fiction it’s the only way to move the story forward without boring the reader.

In normal life one person might say,

“Good morning. How are you?”

“Fine, thanks. Nice weather we’re having for the time of year.”

This may reflect what actually happens in reality but it has no place in a greqt story or novel. A story needs to move along at a good pace, full of intrigue and excitement.

How do you write character dialogue in a story?

The standard notation for indicating dialogue on the written page is by enclosing the speech in double inverted commas or speech marks. (In UK, for example.)

The standard does change depending on the country you live in. In Spain they prefer to indent the speech and preceed it with an em-dash.

In the USA a single inverted comma is used. In other cultures speech may be simply indented.

In general, new speech always begins on a new line and is indented, which helps to distinguish it from narrative and descriptive text.

A new speaker always warrants a completely new paragraph.

Use an em-dash is speech is interrupted by an action or another speaker.

Writing dialogues in fiction – Resources:

Creative Writing: Dialogue

Sample Dialogue- a conversation between two characters.

Dialogue: Creative Writiing

Dialogue between two characters

Dialogue between characters – PDF download

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