What is the Purpose of Dialogue in a Narrative Essay?

In a narrative essay, the writer conveys the story using first-person narration and often emphasizes particular personal experiences of life. Such essays and stories are non-fiction but it encompasses some fictional elements. However, one of the most significant elements in a narrative essay is dialogue through which the message deliverance takes place.

Dialogues are considered a crucial tool in an essay. It not only allows characters to do conversations but is also useful regarding other aspects. Anyhow, let’s explore what is the purpose of dialogue in a narrative essay and how to write them effectively.

What is a Dialogue?

From an existing writing stance, dialogue is the means of communication between two or more characters, which is generally spoken loud. Usually, within an essay or a story, a dialogue is denoted by quotation marks or dialogue tags.

Anyhow, there are two types of dialogues:

Direct Dialogue

Direct dialogue is the speech using the exact words of the speaker or the character. In this case, quotation marks are placed around the direct dialogues.

For instance,

Katherine asked Maria, “Why do you look sad?”

Indirect Dialogue

Indirect dialogue is someone’s speech that is conveyed by a third person or something which is not said or written in the exact words.

For example,

Katherine asked Maria why she looked sad.

How Dialogue Matters in a Narrative Essay?

Let’s discover some important roles of dialogue within an essay or a story.

It Gives the Character Life

Dialogue can help characters grow. In fact, at least one of the characters should shift expression in every successful discussion. Also, dialogues within an essay are explicitly helpful in driving the plot and generating connections and relationships between numerous characters. It directly reveals the events that may not be deceptive by the description. Through dialogue, characters experience a variety of feelings that may be lost if they were narrated by a narrator.

It Outlines the Character

Character qualities can also be revealed through dialogue. Since the writer is the protagonist in a personal narrative, the author’s interaction with others is equally significant. To give the essay reality, the language serves to convey each character’s true personality and voice. At the same time, the author allows the characters to speak for themselves without interfering too much. The conversation also expresses the feelings of the characters and demonstrates how they connect with one another.

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It Shows, Not Tells

You must have been hearing this old piece of advice by your instructor while writing a descriptive essay: “Show, don’t tell.” Dialogue may be utilized to add authenticity to a personal narrative and to make the story more realistic by demonstrating rather than telling the reader what is going on. It reveals emotion and information through sensory aspects like seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting.

For example, consider the following sentence: “William was enraged after Oscar deceived him.” Rather, if the author preferred dialogue, he or she may write, “William walked around the room stomping his feet. ‘Ah! What right does he have to say that? How could he betray me like that?'” Without mentioning the word “angry,” the latter conveys fury through conversation.

It Moves the Essay Ahead

The purpose of dialogue in a narrative essay is to assist the plot’s progress by recreating people’s discussions and ideas. External conversation refers to spoken words, whereas internal dialogue refers to notions and ideas. One or both of these sorts of dialogues can be found in a personal narrative essay. The pace of the story can also be accelerated by using dialogue, while the narration slows it down. It can also be used to break up extended paragraphs of narrative.

How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Essay?

Although composing dialogue might be difficult, proficient writing requires consistency and knowledge of convention. To organize your discussion on the page, follow these formatting principles.

Place Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are usually placed around direct dialogues when you write the exact words of someone within the content. However, make sure to place the period within the quotation marks.

For instance,

Mark said, “let’s go shopping.”

Put Dialogue Tags Outside the Quotations

Dialogue tags assign a line of dialogue to one of the characters, that enables the reader to figure out who is delivering the dialogue. The dialogue tags should be placed outside the quotation marks, whereas the punctuation should be placed within.

For example,

“I’m starving,” Karen said.

However, if the dialogue tag comes in first, then the comma would be placed outside the quotation marks.

For example,

Karen said, “I’m starving.”

On the other hand, if there is an exclamation or question mark at the end of the dialogue, then it would be placed inside the quotation marks.

For example,

“I’m starving!” Karen said.

John asked, “Would you like to eat pizza?”

Begin Dialogue in a Separate Sentence

If an event takes place before or after the dialogue, make sure to begin it with a new sentence. Or, in other words, when you start a new dialogue after the description, start it from a separate sentence.

For instance,

Adam immediately went out of the room and saw Carol.

“What are you doing here?” asked Carol.

Use Single Quote Marks When There is Dialogue within the Dialogue

If the character is saying something and delivering someone else’s dialogue within their dialogue, then you would use two quotation marks. One would be the inverted commas around the main dialogue and single quotation marks (apostrophe) around the internal dialogue.

For instance,

Olivia suggested, “When you asked, ‘Which profession should I choose?’ the medical field instantly came to my mind.”

Use Lowercase When the Dialogue Interrupts

If an action or dialogue tag comes between a single dialogue and it is broken down into two segments, then the first letter of the second segment would be in lowercase.

For example,

“After tomorrow,” said James, “she will never come back.”

Avoid Adding Extra Punctuation Marks

If the dialogue ends with an ellipsis, you should not place any comma or other punctuation mark, instead of the three periods. Usually, ellipses are used to indicate faltering speech.

For instance,

Jasmine was trying to recall the event, “I… I don’t remember what happened last night…”


So, we hope this article has answered a few questions. What is the purpose of dialogue in a narrative essay? How to write a dialogue in a narrative essay? Although we’ve all spent our lives reading, it’s not until we have to create a conversation that we comprehend the complexities involved. How do you decide where a dialogue tag should go? This is frequently an aesthetic decision rather than a clear and fast law. I frequently use the tag where it appears to be the least obtrusive. When a speaker tag is required, it should be as “transparent” as possible to avoid interfering with fluent reading.

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