Writing Books/Dialogue


Hello Jannie,

I am currently writing a book, my first one, and I'm at the tail end of it. As I've been re-reading and picking through my finished chapters, I've wondered sometimes if I have written some of the dialogue incorrectly. Basically, when I am writing in a character saying something, and I am describing an action before they say it, do I always need to insert with it: she said, or she spoke, or she stated, etc. For example, below I have two sentences of dialogue---can either be correct?

1. I handed the tiny jar of ketchup to Camilla and said, “Here you go. Want me to order up anything else? I can order up some dessert.”

2. I handed the tiny jar of ketchup to Camilla, “Here you go. Want me to order up anything else? I can order up some dessert.”

I happen to do #2 a lot, because I felt whoever was doing the action, implied to the reader they were the ones who were speaking. Can both ways be correct---or do I always need to add the "said" type of word when my character is doing an action before the dialogue? I hope I have made sense explaining it, or through my example. I never questioned myself before, but my sister believes it should always be done as #1, if I am writing an action with dialogue. She's no expert, but you are!

Please let me know what you think.

First, I wonder why you are writing in first person instead of the traditional third person narrative that sets everything up for you: the author has an invisible voice describing the scenes for the characters and gives much more creative freedom. Pick up 5 books and you will see 4 books written in third person narrative.

If you wrote third person narrative, you wouldn't have that problem.

If you say "I handy the tiny jar.................." then, you don't need to say "and said." Not often anyway.........You've already established the "who" therefore, don't slow the reader down with unnecessary verbage.

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Jannie Balliett


I am a published writer, Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing, specializing in novel writing, and creative writing. I can answer most any question concerning writing a book, plot and characterization, tighten the prose, and the editing process, and help advise with publishing and the requirements of obtaining a literary agent.


I'm a published writer, freelancer, and Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing for my two Online writer workshops.

Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Brazos Writers Group.

Writers Post Journal magazine, May 2006 issue, Augusr 2006 issue, Nov/December 2006 issue and soon in 2008, On A Whim, flash fiction anthology, offered in Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.

Some college, creative writing, fiction writing

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I have numerous clients using my service through my editorial service and numerous members in my Online writer workshops.

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