A cool way to differentiate dialogue

Let me start this post by admitting that I’m a bit of a geek. In my “normal” life, I have to find ways to convert print documents into an XML format with a very strict DTD and, well, I know I’ve lost you already so I’ll go back to speaking to a writer.

I’ve been working on trying to differentiate the dialogue of the many characters in my WIP and I came up with this really cool way to manage it. Now I realize that most of you will hear nothing but “blah blah blah” as soon as I say the words Microsoft Word, but for those of you who don’t, here it is:

1) Open your manuscript in Microsoft Word. Depending on your version, click either Format/Styles and Formatting or click the Styles flyout on the Home tab.

2) Follow the steps to create a new style for each of your characters. Make sure you name the style after them. Also make sure the style is based on “Normal” or whatever you call your regular text so you won’t have to read your manuscript in 12 different fonts. Well, unless you want to read your manuscript in 12 different fonts. In that case, skip to step 3.

3) Go through your manuscript and tag every line of dialogue with the speaking character’s style. I KNOW this will be tedious but, trust me, it’s worth it.

4) And now for the good part…once you have determined how you want your character to speak (more on that in another post), change the color for only that character’s style and then read the manuscript for only their speech.

Cool? Yeah, I know. Back to my XML.

Category: On Writing