I am writing an essay and including dialogue from a short story in it - specifically a conversation between two characters. Do I need to start a new paragraph each time a different character speaks?

Expert Answers
price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, that is one of the rules when punctuating dialogue.  Other rules include:

  • Use quotations marks before and after the exact words you are quoting.

John said, “I love you.”

  • Use a comma before or after the speaker’s tag phrase.

John said, “I love you.”

“I love you, “ John said.

  • Periods go inside the quotation marks.
  • Question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks when the quote is a question or exclamatory statement.

John asked, “Do you love me?” 

“I do!” exclaimed Mary.

  • And finally, start a new paragraph whenever the speaker changes in a conversation.

“I love you,“ John said.

“ I love you, too,” Mary replied.

“Do you really?” John inquired.

Remember when using a direct quote, make sure you repeat it word for word.  If you are having problems, look at a novel or story with conversation, and it will help you get the format correct.