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Using Dialogue In A Narrative Essay: Advice For Students

5 Helpful Hints On Using Dialogue In A Narrative Essay

The whole purpose of a narrative essay is to tell a story. So, in many respects you should approach it in the same way that you would approach a short story or even a novel while maintaining the structure and formality of an essay. This is actually a lot easier to do than you might imagine. You wouldn’t dream of writing a novel and not including dialogue, would you? Well, once you have got your head around that then it should be easier for you to factor dialogue into your essay.

In case you are in need of some further assistance here are 5 helpful hints to help ensure that you write a captivating narrative essay:

  • Keep it relevant
  • This is an essay first and foremost. Your dialogue needs to be tight, and relevant to the story (the narrative) that you are telling. Unlike say a novel, which could be more dialogue driven that would not be considered to be appropriate in this instance. So, that means absolutely no waffle. You don’t want long, drawn out conversations about what Jimmy did last Friday – unless what Jimmy did last Friday is pivotal to the story.

  • Keep it to two people
  • Your essay is only going to be a few pages long at most. The last thing that you want to do is confuse your reader or complicate matters by introducing too many characters. This is all about driving your narrative forward. By keeping the dialogue to two people you can beautifully convey the story that you wish to tell without the dialogue overtaking the central message.

  • Use it sparingly
  • Think of dialogue as the seasoning; the salt and pepper of your essay. Use too much and you will ruin the overall culinary experience, whereas too little might result in a bland dish. Using it sparingly is a skill, so take some time and really think about where you are using it.

  • Use it strategically
  • Your dialogue should lift and take your essay to another level. You therefore need to use it strategically in order for it to have the maximum impact. Think of it as your secret weapon.

  • Try and avoid regional accents
  • I understand why it might be tempting to use a local dialect in your dialogue. However, this can actually have a negative impact as it can make it incredibly difficult for the reader to understand. Far better that you stick to Standard English/American English. You don’t want to lose marks by trying to be clever.

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