Narrative Writing





































Adding Thoughts and Feelings

You can add thoughts and feelings to a paragraph of dialogue (as long as you only add the thoughts and feelings of the person who is talking).

"I'm home," John said, hanging up his coat. From the kitchen he could hear the sounds of his wife cooking dinner. He wondered where his dog was; his dog usually greeted him at the door. He felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Where's Rover?"

John's paragraph:

In this paragraph we get John's words, actions, thoughts, and feelings.

"I took him to the vet," his wife called out. A moment later, she walked out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dish towel. "The vet said it's serious. He's keeping Rover overnight." Her face was pinched with worry.

His wife's paragraph:

In this paragraph we get his wife's words and actions (and possibly her thoughts and feelings).

Notice the last sentence. Instead of saying, "Her face was pinched with worry," we could have said, "She felt worried." But since this scene is being told from John's point of view, that would be weird. Instead, John (and the reader) must infer her feelings from the look on her face.


The important thing is this: One person, one paragraph. You would never want to put the words, actions, thoughts, or feelings of two people into the same paragraph.

This, for example, would be a clear mistake:

John felt anxious. "Where's Rover?" he asked. His wife shook her head sadly. "He's dead," she replied. She felt sad.


This next example, however, might be acceptable:

John studied his wife's face. She looked like she had been crying. "Where's Rover?" he asked, dreading the answer she might give him.


In this last example, we can infer his wife's feelings by the look on her faceā€”but it's still a "John paragraph" because what we are really getting is John's thoughts about the way his wife looks.

Instructions for the Quiz

Each question consists of several paragraphs of dialogue. Your job is to determine whether the paragraphs are formatted correctly.

Caution: A few of the dialogues include "action paragraphs" like this:

Agnes played the guitar. Shawn played the tamborine. Helen clapped her hands and sang.


This paragraph doesn't "belong" to anyone because no one is saying anything. In an action paragraph, you can include the actions of several people, and it's perfectly all right.