4 Tips on Crafting Effective Dialogues in a Composition

Using dialogue or speech in your composition is definitely a good way to make your writing come to life! It gives the characters their voices and brings out their personalities. Previously, we have seen how we can use dialogue to start a composition. However, most students struggle to use accurate and effective dialogues in their compositions. I would like to share with you 4 tips to help you write accurate and effective dialogues! Let’s go!

4 tips on crafting effective dialogues in a composition

1. Correct punctuation

The most common pitfall in writing dialogues is to use incorrect punctuations. This becomes a problem when the punctuation errors are repeated throughout the story for every single dialogue written, and language marks will be penalised. 

First and foremost, take note that there are two basic dialogue structures.

For both types, the spoken words should be written with open and close inverted commas.

On top of that, the first letter must be capitalised in the spoken dialogue.

The first type are those that begin with the spoken dialogue. 

Correct punctuation in effective dialogues

1) Take note that we always have a punctuation before we finish the spoken dialogue with (”)

However, when a spoken dialogue starts a sentence, take note that we do not use a full stop(.) before we end the spoken dialogue as the sentence does not end there. The only punctuations we can use will be comma, question mark and an exclamation mark

2) On top of that, be sure to use a lower case for the dialogue tag after the spoken dialogue. 

The second type are those that end with the spoken dialogue. 

Correct punctuation when ending with the spoken dialogue

1) Take note that we always have a comma (,) before we open the spoken dialogue with (“).

2) However, because the sentence ends with the spoken dialogue, we can use a full stop(.) to end the sentence before we close with (”).

Other punctuations that we can use will be the question mark and exclamation mark.

2. Keep it short but impactful.

Students have the tendency to write long dialogues that becomes draggy. 

Let’s consider a scene where there is a burglary and the main character called the police.

Keep it short but impactful

This is one long dialogue! It is understandable that students have the tendency to include details into the story, but some details are unnecessary as it does not help to develop the plot further. 

1) For example, there is no need to write in the exact address as it does not help to develop the plot. Whether or not the address is mentioned, the burglary is still ongoing. Development of the plot in this case would be what happened after calling the police and were the burglars apprehended in the end. 

Moreover, there are certain details in the dialogues that can be omitted and instead, woven into the story. For example, instead of writing what the burglars were wearing in the dialogue, the descriptions of the robbers can easily be woven into the build-up scene when the main character first saw the robbers:

4 tips on crafting effective dialogues in a composition

A better example of the dialogue above would be: 

A better example of the dialogue in composition

3. Avoid writing a script - use indirect speech or thoughts

Let’s take a look at this particular scene:

Avoid writing a script - use indirect speech or thoughts

Avoid writing dialogue after dialogue! Writing a composition is very different from writing a script. A composition should be descriptive and there should be a series of actions/events happening than just two characters talking to each other. 

The tip here is to change some of these dialogues into indirect speech or thoughts

Sze-Blog-Img-7.jpg

On top of that, we can also change some dialogues into actions! 

Change some dialogues into actions!

4. Look out for your speech tag and actions!

Students need to ensure that their dialogues end with a speech or dialogue tag. A speech tag is simply to tell the readers who spoke and how was the dialogue spoken. 

Look out for your speech tag and actions!

There is an entire list of words to replace the word “said”. Some of these words include - muttered; mumbled; spoke; greeted; explained; whispered; retorted; mocked.

On top of those, there are also words to replace the word “shouted” (exclaimed; bellowed; hollered) and “asked” (questioned; requested; queried).

Vary the choice of words you use!

Furthermore, we can attach actions to dialogues to create a visual image of the scene for the readers. 

Attach actions to dialogues to create a visual image

When we attach a speech tag and an action to the dialogue, the readers can visualise the character speak in their heads! 

Check out this link to learn more about writing exciting dialogue tags! 

https://www.lilbutmightyenglish.com/blog/insert-exciting-dialogue-tags-to-your-primary-school-composition

These are the tips I have for you today. I hope that by following these pointers, you will find the use of dialogues in your composition to be more meaningful and effective. 

To learn more about how to write a good line of dialogue to start a composition and captivate the reader, visit this link: https://www.lilbutmightyenglish.com/blog/composition-writing-3-ways-to-write-a-good-line-of-dialogue

Thank you for reading and happy writing!

Leaving comments? Write them below in dialogue form to apply what you have learnt! (:


Lil' but Mighty English Teacher

Ms Tan Sze Li is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. As a teacher, she strongly believes that learning is a journey for everyone – student and teacher alike. After every lesson, the students leave with new knowledge. Her hope is to inspire students to become inquisitive learners who will spark a change in the world with their thirst for knowledge.


The Write Recipe | A.I.M.

The Write Recipe : A.I.M.

1. Well-structured lessons to help children understand what, when and how to use A.I.M

2. Workbook with notes and activities for each video to support learning

3. Paragraphs and examples to demonstrate application and provide vocabulary input

4. Aligned with PSLE English Paper 1 Composition format to help children see how A.I.M can be applied for school and examination questions