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Table of Contents
Dialogue is when at least two characters are talking to each other in a conversational format. There are two types of dialogue when we examine literature. These are outer and inner dialogues. Outer dialogue is the common type we think about when we think about dialogue: outer dialogue is a conversation between two different people. When you talk to your friends about a new movie you saw, or when you talk to your teacher about an assignment, you are engaging in outer dialogue. Inner dialogue is the second type of dialogue we tend to forget about or ignore.
An inner dialogue is a conversation between someone and themselves. Authors usually use inner dialogue to reveal the thoughts of a character to an audience, or they use this type of dialogue to more readily reveal a personality trait of a character. A monologue is one way to construct an inner dialogue. Shakespeare often uses monologues to reveal evil plots of characters in his plays or to show the growing madness of his character.
Dialogue is usually indicated through quotation marks around what is being said. Sometimes the speaker is indicated around the dialogue with a tag.
“I hope we get to go to the supermarket today,” Ashley said.
“Well,” replied her mother, “we will see.”
This dialogue is an outer dialogue because we have two individuals speaking to each other. We first know this is a dialogue because of the quotation marks at the very beginning of the sentence, followed by the closing quotation marks. We are even given speaker tags. The indications of the speaker can be moved around and need not only come at the end of the words in dialogue. You see that “Ashley said” follows her line of dialogue. Her mother’s line of dialogue differs in that “replied her mother” breaks the line of dialogue that she is speaking.
Where we put the tag can change the way the dialogue is read or spoken. Look at the example above to see this. Since “Ashley said” is at the end of the line, the dialogue is rushed and flows smoothly. Her mother’s dialogue does not run as smoothly because “replied her mother” is placed in the middle of her dialogue. Instead, we have to pause after she says “‘Well.’” Perhaps the author put this break here to show that as we pause in reading her dialogue, the mother also pauses to formulate a response to her daughter. The placement of the tags and how the dialogue is used may be expertly crafted to mimic the actions or speaking patterns of the characters.
The following are examples of outer and inner dialogue:
From David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens:
“How do you do ma’am?” I said to Miss Murdstone
“Ah, dear me!’ sighed Miss Murdstone, giving me the tea-caddy scoop instead of her fingers. “How long are the holidays?”
“A month, ma’am.”
“Counting from when?”
“From today ma’am.”
“Oh!” said Miss Murdstone. “Then here’s one day off.”
This example is an outer example. The dialogue takes place between two separate characters, David Copperfield and Miss Murdstone. We can see that Dickens moves the speaker identification tags to mimic the speaking patterns of the characters. He places the tag after Murdstone’s surprise to highlight her emotional response and pause.
From Shakespeare’s Sonnet 146:
Poore soule the center of my sinfull earth,
. . . these rebbell powers that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth
Painting thy outward walls so costlie gay?
Shakespeare more often uses internal dialogue in his plays, but this sonnet gives an example of an internal dialogue. The speaker in the sonnet is directly asking questions to “poore soule.” Presumably, the poor soul is his own and he is posing these questions to himself and his inner being. He is asking himself and his soul why he is pining and suffering. The dialogue is not with another person, making it an inner dialogue.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use dialogue worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what dialogue is and how it can be used. You can use these dialogue worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.