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While I am not a professional by any means, I have been writing for many years and, more recently, beta-reading as well. In all of my experience, I've noticed that a lot of to-be authors make some really silly, simple mistakes. In an effort to help out, I'm going to be putting up a few "Quick Tips" that might help you improve your writing and get more readers.

For this "Quick Tips" entry, I'm going to focus on conversation and the use of quotations. Here we go :D


Punctuation in Quotations


When a character is speaking, their statement is often followed by, "she said" or, "he mumbled". However, you have to keep in mind that this is still part of the sentence!

    Incorrect: "Wait, I have to tie my shoe." she said. Correct: "Wait, I have to tie my shoe," she said.

Even though her statement ended, the sentence carried on to tell the reader that it was she who spoke. That's how it works with a period, but with exclamation marks and question marks, many people choose to ignore this rule. If you prefer, you can switch them around so the punctuation doesn't interrupt the sentence.

    Correct: "Ow, that really hurt!" she complained. Correct: "Did it really hurt that bad?" he asked. Switched: She complained, "Ow, that really hurt!" Switched: He asked, "Did it really hurt that bad?"

Sometimes the sentence does end in the quote, in which case you would want to use a period at the end of the quote instead of a comma.

    Incorrect: "That's my dog," She pointed at the drooling creature. Correct: "That's my dog." She pointed at the drooling creature.

If you're not sure about whether or not you are dealing with one or two sentences, try reading it to yourself without the quotes. "Ow, that really hurt, she complained" sounds like a complete sentence, but "That's my dog, she pointed at the drooling creature." sounds like it should be separated. I hope that makes sense!


Fluffing Up Your Conversations


What I see the most in writing these days is instant-message-like conversations that go back and forth with no story attached. It often gets very confusing when you're trying to remember who said what. Here is an example.

    "What time is it?"
    "Half past two."
    "Already? I'm going to be late!"
    "Don't worry, the meeting got pushed back."
    "Oh, well that's a relief."
    "Hey, your tie is crooked."
    "Oops! Thanks for pointing that out."
    "No problem. Want to get dinner tonight?"

Now, since that was a short conversation, it probably didn't get too confusing. However, when it gets dragged on, it's easy to miss a line and start reading things the wrong way! Sure, you could tack "he said, she said" on the end of every sentence, but that's no fun at all. Instead of that, try adding a bit of character. Remember, when people are talking in real life, their tone of voice and body language says a lot! Let's try this conversation again.

Additional tidbit: Please remember that every time a new character starts speaking, it should be in a new paragraph. You cannot have two characters speaking in the same paragraph!
    "What time is it?" Scott asked.
    Lisa glanced at her watch. "Half past two."
    "Already? I'm going to be late!" He sounded panicked.
    Lisa smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry, the meeting got pushed back."
    Scott visibly relaxed. "Oh, well that's a relief."
    "Hey, your tie is crooked," she observed.
    "Oops! Thanks for pointing that out."
    "No problem." She paused. "Want to get dinner tonight?"

Much better! Now we know who is saying what, and even if we get lost we can just glance back a line and find ourselves. However, it still sounds very plain and boring. This is the fun part- the fluffing. Before you do this, ask yourself about the characters. Is Scott a well-groomed man in a suit with a corporate job? Or rather, is he a nervous intern late for his first meeting? What about Lisa, his companion? Are they friends or co-workers? Is she a sexy, sophisticated woman or a young girl with frizzy hair and glasses? You may know all this, but your readers don't! Instead of boring them with a block of text that describes your characters, fit it into the story as they speak.

    "What time is it?" Scott asked, fumbling with his watch until he remembered it was broken. He had dropped it in the sink the day before, but he still wore it out of habit. 
    Lisa glanced at her own watch, an expensive Gucci with a little black window. "Half past two."
    "Already? I'm going to be late!" He sounded panicked. Cramming his hand into his pocket, he hunted around for the keys to his car.
    Lisa smiled reassuringly, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, the meeting got pushed back an hour."
    Scott visibly relaxed. "Oh, well that's a relief." It was his first big meeting and he wanted to make a good impression.
    Lisa looked him up and down, no doubt thinking that he looked strange in a suit. "Hey, your tie is crooked," she observed.
    "Oops! Thanks for pointing that out." He busied himself with fixing it, trying to ignore her stare.
    "No problem." She paused. Though he didn't think it was possible for such a cool and collected woman, she almost seemed nervous. Glancing at the parking garage's dirty floor, she posed a question. "Want to get dinner tonight?"

Wow! What a difference! Now we know that Scott is indeed a nervous newbie, anxiously awaiting his first big meeting. Lisa, on the other hand, seems like a woman with money and expensive taste. What's this, though? She has a crush on him? Now a simple conversation has become a story in itself, fleshing out both characters and even telling us that they are inside of a parking garage when the conversation takes place. Even if your characters are just sitting down at a diner for some coffee, there is a story in it. Maybe one character obsessively straightens the condiments, or perhaps their companion is utterly disgusted by the amount of sugar they dump into their drink. There is always something beyond the back-and-forth quotes, so make sure to write it!

Additional tidbit: Don't be afraid to do a bit of research. In their conversation, I mentioned that her watch was a Gucci. Before I wrote this, I had no idea what kind of watch brands would be considered expensive. When I got to that part, I paused, pulled up my browser, and googled, "expensive watch brands". Research never hurts!

That's all for now, and I hope this helps! Let me know if you see any mistakes or something that��could be improved. Also, if you don't mind, I'd love if you checked out some of my writing! Thumbnail in description below.
Just a helpful guide for any writers out there. These are mistakes I made a lot when I first started writing so I thought that I might clear them up for any other new writers having the same troubles. If you notice anything wrong, feel free to let me know! I'm (most likely) human and I make mistakes too!

Also if you have any suggestions for lessons like this, don't be afraid to suggest them!

If you found this helpful, Check out my other writers guides and lessons here! I will be doing more in the future, so feel free to watch me too! <3

Please help support me as a writer! If you enjoy my writers guides, all I ask is that you take a moment to read some of my own work. I'd love to hear what you think!

Demonika Ch. 1                I suppose I should have known from the start that the girl I found sitting in a dark, damp alley that night so long ago was a demon. Perhaps I was too young to put two and two together, or maybe I was too angry at my parents to care. I had only been ten for a few days, if I recall correctly, and I had just gotten into an awful fight with my father. I had looked to my mother for help but, to my dismay, she took my father’s side. They were both strictly against me going into magic.
                Ten was an important age for me; it was an important age for any youngster who desired a future in the magic arts. There was a yearly event attended by every magic loving ten-year-old around. Skilled mages arrived at the event in dramatic manners, appearing out of thin air or emerging from colums of fire, to speak with the children and find an apprentice. I had yearned to be one of th
Bad Luck Ch. 1       Half of the day had passed and Zane still lounged in his bed, staring at the ceiling between long, slow blinks. He was in a terrible mood. The source of his foul mood was the cell phone that blinked innocently beside him or, perhaps more accurately, the voicemail it had recited some hours ago. Another singer and their frail excuses for quitting the band. It was enough to drive anybody mad, really.
       For most problems, Zane simply turned to his guitar for consolation, but this problem couldn’t be solved by music. So instead he continued to lay in his bed and contemplate the unfairness of it.
       Zane had been playing guitar since he was old enough to strum. His lessons had started at age five and ended at ten, when his parents decided they’d had enough of his obsession with music and his time would be better spent on studies. Through the help of his ever supportive godfather, Zane still managed to lea
Arlyn of the Ocean                My childhood summers were filled with the salty air and sea shells of the Gulf, my favorite place to relax and play. I vividly remember the cold ocean water splashing at my ankles and the taste of the popsicles we ate between bouts of play. I collected hundreds of sea shells and made magnificent sand castles, dug holes as deep as I was tall and even caught a few fish. What I remember most of all, though, was Arlyn.
                The first summer I spent with my aunt was an entirely new experience; I had never seen the beach or played in salt water before. She coaxed me gently toward the water, armed with an array of floaties and toys. I followed her cautiously, reassured by her claims that I wasn’t meaty enough to interest any of the ocean’s monsters. I figured she had to be right; I weighed next to nothing as a scrawny, awkward ten-yea
Tyler's Fight       As fast as he was running, he should have expected to trip. When he did it startled him, and he tried to protect his face as he went down on the rough gravel. He hit the ground hard, but managed to roll and dissipate some of the force. It didn’t take long for his pursuers to catch up.
       “We told you running was pointless, slut.” Josh, the group’s leader, kicked Tyler hard in the shin as he struggled to get up. Tyler didn’t see Raine with the group, for which he was glad. He gritted his teeth and stood.
       “Why won’t you just leave me alone? I want nothing to do with you or Raine,” he begged, his heart pounding. He stepped back and winced at the pain in his leg. He really wasn’t made for physical confrontation. 
       “You never should have touched her in the first place.” Josh spat on Tyler’s shoes and turned his b
FamilyMommy chases pills
with whiskey, beer, and wine.

Daddy finds his happiness
in a snow white cocaine line.

Sissy slams the door
and goes to find another life.

That leaves me alone,
canvas skin and red pen knife.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconoichidan:
oichidan Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! Clap Clap Clap 
This is nice for a beginner like me to learn and learn.
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:iconleighad:
LeighAD Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2014
Wow. You turned a bland conversation into character developing material, without ever retouching the dialogue in a tut on conversations. I applaud you.
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2014
Thank you! :D 
Reply
:iconnightshade43:
nightshade43 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013
 "Hey, your tie is crooked," she observed. "Oops! Thanks for pointing that out." He busied himself with fixing it, trying to ignore her stare. "No problem." She paused. 

I liked the guide, though I noted how the characters still spoke on the same line as one another.
I always thought the rule of paragraphing applied to making a new line whenever a different character talked.

eg)
"Hey, your tie is crooked," she observed. 
"Oops! Thanks for pointing that out." He busied himself with fixing it, trying to ignore her stare. 
"No problem." She paused. 

This way, even having a minimised conversation can be easily followed if it's two characters, provided once in a while there's an indication of who said what.
eg) "What time is it?" He asked.
"Half past two." She glanced at her watch.
"Already? I'm going to be late!" 
"Don't worry, the meeting got pushed back." 
"Oh, well that's a relief." 
"Hey, your tie is crooked." She noted.
"Oops! Thanks for pointing that out." 
"No problem. Want to get dinner tonight?"

It's not a stellar example but I hope you understand what I mean. I remember seeing such conversations in popular stories, though I can't recall the titles to memory. I want to say the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but I can't be too sure.

Anyway, :+fav:
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
You are totally right! I'm not sure how that happened; I could have sworn that was all sorted out. Must have been a typo thing I missed. Thanks for pointing it out! I'll be sure to fix it =]
Reply
:iconnightshade43:
nightshade43 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
No worries. Sometimes DA or other sites mucks up with the wording (though in my case it stretches it to the point half of it can't be read).
I just thought to let you know just in case.
Reply
:iconkavahle22:
Kavahle22 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Student General Artist
very helpful
Reply
:iconsteve-c2:
Steve-C2 Featured By Owner May 31, 2013
I thought I was pretty good at writing conversations, until I read this piece. I'm not going to say I was bad, but I immediately understood how I could be better. Considering that conversation is dominant in my work, this piece is really appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Cheers!
Reply
:icon1deathgod:
1deathgod Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Professional Writer
Lisa glanced at her own watch, an expensive Gucci with a little black window.. "Half past two."

You hit the period one too many times. I'm not trying to be picky, but my OCD couldn't stand it.

I believe you mentioned this in one of your other writing lessons, but it's always a good idea to look up some different words for "said." I believe there are fifty something different ways, though I can't remember them all off the top of my head.

Overall, this is a good guide.
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 19, 2013
Oops! Thanks for pointing that out D: Will fix. ^^

Thank you!
Reply
:icon1deathgod:
1deathgod Featured By Owner May 20, 2013  Professional Writer
De nada.
Reply
:iconalternatemew:
AlternateMew Featured By Owner May 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Dialogue. I love and hate it. Can't seem to write it without it taking over the story completely.

It's nice to see these tips in type. I think I'll forward this to a certain someone who's been writing all his dialogue in one paragraph, fluff-free.
I know he's doing it more therapeutically, but if that ever goes public I'll be embarrassed!

I'll try to remember to check out some of your other guides and stories!
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 19, 2013
Thanks! I hope it helps him ^^
Reply
:iconcynfinnegan:
CynFinnegan Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I know of some so-called professional writers who can't write a decent conversation to save their lives. They all currently write for DC Comics.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 15, 2013
oooooooooohh xD

I never really took sides, but with The Avengers, Thor, and Iron Man, it seems Marvel has won my allegiance. Perhaps I saved my eyes without even knowing it xD
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:iconsingingflames:
SingingFlames Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Excellent tips! I see a lot of writers messing dialogue punctuation up. Or having two different characters speak in one paragraph. Dialogue seems to give budding authors more problems than any other technical aspect of writing (except, perhaps, commas, semicolons and colons). Thanks for sharing this helpful guide!
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 19, 2013
No problem! I'm glad you enjoyed it! ^^
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:iconthelonelyfruitcake:
thelonelyfruitcake Featured By Owner May 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll have to read these later! thank you
Reply
:iconkatnissthecatfox:
KatnissTheCatfox Featured By Owner May 4, 2013
So far I read a few tips and now I'm beginning to understand. I'm still in the writer's block ever since I made only a few beginning chapters of my story. T_T

Because of my laziness. Not to mention school work and sports, but now its the weekends I'll at least try to write again.

Thank you!

Wish I could put the 'thanks' icon, but I still don't know how.
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 5, 2013
Writers block is no fun D: It usually hits me a few chapters into the story, but you just have to push through. I don't know if you read it yet, but I did make a guide to beating writer's block: [link] and this is pretty helpful too: [link]

School can certainly get in the way, but hopefully summer vacation is near!

For the icon, if you told me which icon I could teach you how ^^ Most of them are just :icon(nameofaccount): like :iconkitsunechann: or :iconkatnissthecatfox:
no parenthesis though
Reply
:iconmichael-j-hawk:
Michael-J-Hawk Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
These writing lessons are quite helpful. A lot of things are mentioned in them that I didn't think of while writing my stories. You should make some lessons involving powers that a character might have (assuming they have them).

Also, if it's not too much trouble, could you read some of the chapters of my stories and tell me if there's anything that I could do to make them better? I'll understand if you say no, but it would be helpful (No need to read the whole story, just 1 or 2 chapters will do).
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 5, 2013
What exactly do you mean by lessons involving powers that a character has? It sounds like an interesting idea but I'm not quite sure what you mean.

Sure, I could take a look at them! I can't promise I'll be much help, but I can at least try ^^
Reply
:iconmichael-j-hawk:
Michael-J-Hawk Featured By Owner May 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
What I meant was like in fantasy stories, when a character has powers like controlling fire, telekinesis, etc. I've seen a few people whose characters had like 5 or 6 powers at the same time, or characters whose powers made them almost invincible, or characters who can come back to life whenever they want, or... well, you see where I'm going with this, right?
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 12, 2013
Ah! Okay I see what you mean. That would be an interesting lesson, and I actually already have something similar in mind ^^
Reply
:iconmichael-j-hawk:
Michael-J-Hawk Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Ahh, ok ^^ Looking forward to it.
Reply
:iconvoadorchama:
VoadorChama Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, very useful! I will (shamefully) admit that I am a perpetrator of boring dialogue sometimes. Thanks for showing such simple ways to flesh it out a bit. I get so irritated at myself because I have a nasty habit of just describing the character. What's worse, in describing the character, I usually only describe their eye and hair color, and what clothes and/or weapons they have. Bleh. Thanks for this; no doubt I'll be using it almost every day that I'm writing. :D Again, thank you! :squee:
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 5, 2013
I actually still have a lot of trouble not describing my characters as well. I've been told by many accomplished writers to just cut it out because nobody cares what my character looks like and they'll just make up their own, but I feel really strange thinking that someone is imagining my characters any different than what they look like in my mind o.o I've been trying recently to space it out and give a detail here and a detail there.

For example, in my story Kitaru, I mentioned that her eyes were green by saying that they matched the color of the marking on her face. About a chapter later I mentioned (while she was bathing) that she was washing her long black hair. I don't know if that's a good way to go about it, but I try to be inconspicuous xD I've noticed a lot of people doing a mirror thing though, in recent books. Their character will find themselves in front of a mirror within the first few chapters and ponder their appearance. It does work, but it seems to be getting veeeerrry popular very fast.

Anywho, rant aside, thanks for reading and I'm glad I could help! Feel free to ask any questions, I don't bite ^^
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:iconvoadorchama:
VoadorChama Featured By Owner May 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I've noticed the mirror thing, too. I don't like to use it myself, because it seems like the kind of thing that a depressed, emo character would do, and my characters are usually not that self-absorbed enough to study themselves in a mirror.

The idea of spacing out your descriptions is a good one, and I've been finding myself using it quite a bit recently. My older works are still stupid, but some of my newer stories use that technique. I'm on FanFiction.net, so I really mostly write just fanfics, but they tend to be long and detailed.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 11, 2013
I miss writing fanfiction D: I want to get back into it, but I'm afraid to waste good story ideas on characters that don't belong to me >< It's strange.
Reply
:iconvoadorchama:
VoadorChama Featured By Owner May 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, my problem is that every time I try to write normal fiction, I end up using descriptions and stuff from other fiction works and I get mad and trash it because I'm accidentally stealing someone's characters. So fanfiction is a good way to write without worrying about stealing characters. :)
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 14, 2013
ah, very good point!
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:iconajinu-okami:
AJInu-Okami Featured By Owner May 3, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Needed this. Thanks ^^
Reply
:iconhcwalsh:
HCWalsh Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013
Wow, this ones really helpful! Especially the Punctuation! I had not thought of those things! Thanks!:D
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013
No problem! :D I'm glad they help <3
Reply
:iconfantasygal99:
Fantasygal99 Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This wouldv'e been nice three years ago...lol. I had no idea what I was doing, but the first part...
It makes sense now!
Wow, I feel dumb.
The worst part is that I already knew that, but putting what your first grade teacher taught you into practice...huh. So that was useful after all...
I'm going to go bang my head on the wall now, don't mind me. XD
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013
I think it's different learning it on class or somewhere like DA because in class, at least 50% of the students are focused on doing anything in the world but learning. It makes it hard to learn when everyone else is being annoying.

No banging heads on walls though!
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:iconfantasygal99:
Fantasygal99 Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yah, but I remember it...as in, I can tell you what we went over that day remember.
We were learning weird plural nouns (Moose is both while plural goose is geese (english is absolute bogus) before we reviewed for that test ...specifically going over how to write quotes and simple sentence forms. Ugh, my head is useless.
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013
lol english is absolutely bogus. You're right there!

You might find this amusing if you've never seen it before: [link]

And I didn't remember this stuff from class either. I learned it from my aunts when they were editing my novel xD
Reply
:iconfantasygal99:
Fantasygal99 Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
um...I'm not sure what happened w/ the mood icon...but...um... *sweat drop*
you can ignore that...
Reply
:iconmightyxray:
MightyXray Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm imagining that last bit after the fluffed-up dialogue as one of those cheesy 50's/60's informational movies they made for kids. Don't worry, that's a compliment. =P

I thought this was very informative. Thanks. :)
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013
Lol kind of xD I might have overdone it a bit trying to get the point across. Glad you liked it though!
Reply
:iconmightyxray:
MightyXray Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's pretty funny though. And humor's usually a pretty good way to get through to people, I think. :)
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:iconpsychokay:
PsychoKay Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Student General Artist
I'm going to practice some writing now with this new found bit of information. Thank you for posting this!
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013
You're welcome! Good luck :D If you end up posting what you write, I'd be happy to read it for you ^^
Reply
:iconanapests-and-ink:
anapests-and-ink Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This is incredibly useful! Thank you for sharing. :heart:
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013
You're welcome, I'm glad it helped!
Reply
:iconantarescr302:
AntaresCr302 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, those tips are wonderful! It helped me a lot :)
Reply
:iconmisslunarose:
MissLunaRose Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013   General Artist
These are some great tips! This will be really helpful to young writers. :aww:

Typo alert: You have half passed two instead of half past two. :)
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013
Quick question, because I have a lot of trouble with this. In this tutorial, was my use of "who" correct, or should it have been "whom"?

Even though her statement ended, the sentence carried on to tell the reader that it was she who spoke.
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