Writing Dialogue: Brackets

Friday, April 23


Brackets are adverbs that describe how a character said something. They have a tendency to be over-used. Brackets should only be used when the tone is not completely evident.

"I love you," she whispered quietly.

'Quietly' is unnecessary. We already know that she's speaking softly because she 'whispered.'
 Let's take a couple more examples.

"It's a book," she stated.

It's obvious that she's making a statement. We don't need to use 'stated'.

Back in fourth grade, your teacher probably told you that 'said' is boring and you need to replace it.
This isn't true.
The word 'said' blends into the background. This is a good thing. If characters are in the middle of a heated argument, you don't want to break the pace.

"I don't need your help," he hissed.
"Oh, I think you do," she remarked.
"I can take care of it on my own. I don't need you to look after me," he countered.
"Look, I'm coming with you," she snarled. "You be dead within ten minutes by yourself."
"Fine," he conceded. "But don't slow me down."
"I won't," she spat.

While some of these verbs are good, the argument itself is choppy because of all the words.  Brackets themselves should only be used when the verb is contrary to the tone.
"'I hate you,' she said angrily" has an unecessary bracket. However, "'I hate you', she said teasingly" tells us that she doesn't really mean what she's saying.
Let's try the argument again, and add some brackets;

"I don't need your help," he hissed.
"Oh, I think you do," she said.
"I can take care of it on my own. I don't need you to look after me."
"Look, I 'm coming with you," she snarled. "You'll be dead within ten minutes by yourself."
"Fine, but don't slow me down."
"I won't," she said smugly.

2 comment(s):

Stevn Northean Friday, November 18, 2016  

It is really an impressive thing that you have shared here in this article. The writer of this post want to provide us with good knowledge that would help us in custom essay writings that is why he work hard and his effort can be seen from the work that you have done.

S. Quinlivan Sunday, July 02, 2017  

If the tension in the conversation has already been established its my opinion that hissing,snarling and whatever else bogs the sentence down whereas some italics, double dashes and explanation points etc. allow the reader to move right along with the battle!



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