Do not contextualise dialogue

He burst into the room.
‘So it was you all along.’
‘Yes, that’s right.’
‘You were behind the whole thing!’
‘Not quite. You see, it was his idea.’
‘Whose idea?’
‘My idea.’
‘You? But I thought you were...’
‘Not quite. You see...’
‘No, let him answer for himself.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I was behind him.’
‘No, the first one.’
‘Hang on, which of you was the murderer? I’ve lost track.’
‘I think it was him.’
‘Was he the one who burst into the room, or was that you?’
‘I think it was me.’
‘Who spoke first?’
‘How many of us are there?’
‘One, two, three – and myself. I make it four.’
‘What about her?’
‘Oh, hi everyone. Have we found out who the murderer is yet?’


  1. LOL. Heinlein does that loads. And... Asimov if I'm not mistaken.

  2. This is just like watching the last 20 minutes of Agatha Christie's Poirot currently showing on ITV3.


  3. Neither Heinlein nor Asimov does anything this extreme: five speakers (or is it six?) without handles is waaaay too many.

  4. Like a whodunit with identical quintuplets.

  5. Funny. Add 'he said' and 'she said' all the way through and then throw in loads of angrilies and hastilies and nastilies and confusedlies and you've got a nice section of writing from the average 11 year old's English book.

  6. I think you meant to write 'How many of us are there?" Instead of 'may' but a great entry and something that annoys me in novels where I sometimes have to go back and read a paragraph again to figure out who's speaking.

  7. Ouch. Does anyone have a tool that will fix my head, now? Joel broke it.

  8. Hilarious! The site was enjoyed by me greatly, shortly before my being hacked to death by machete-wielding, anteater-ninjas controlled by Helen Keller's great-niece, Rep. Barnie Frank.