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I'm an elementary Japanese student. I am trying to write a simple story in Japanese, and I want to make it as interesting as possible with my current knowledge of the language. I am concerned about the dialogue in my story. The only way I know how to write that someone said something is through the use of という. I am worried that my story will become repetitive during a scene with a lot of dialogue. I don't want it to sound like this:

スーさんが「さむいです。」といいました。

はなこさんが「そうですね。」といいました。

スーさんが「かえりましょう。」といいました。

はなこさんが「ちょっとまってください。とりをみたいです。」といいました。

I will be reading this story aloud to an audience, so I want to avoid the repetitive "[person] が [dialogue] といいました" construction. What are some ways I can spice up my dialogue? Can it work the same way in English, where I can remove the dialogue tag (he said, she said) when my speakers are established? Can I also mix in action between the dialogue while doing this?

スーさんが「さむいです。」といいました。

はなこさんが「そうですね。」といいました。

スーさんがはなこさんのてをつかみました。「かえりましょう。」

「ちょっとまってください。とりをみたいです。」

"It's cold," said Sue.

"It is," said Hanako.

Sue grasped Hanako's hand. "Let's go home."

"Wait a bit. I want to watch the birds."

I know my dialogue is going to sound awkward and unnatural, but I'm not worried about that since I'm not at the point where I can pick up on nuances. Right now I am worried about getting the grammar down and not sounding repetitive.

Any help is appreciated! (Also, please answer in kana or romaji.)

  • 1
    The dialogue itself sounds sort of stilted ... – Aeon Akechi Dec 3 '16 at 0:37
  • Yes, I know. I won't be able to make natural-sounding dialogue at this point, but that's not my concern. – Summer Dec 3 '16 at 18:31
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Can it work the same way in English, where I can remove the dialogue tag (he said, she said) when my speakers are established? Can I also mix in action between the dialogue while doing this?

Yes.

スーさんがはなこさんのてをつかみました。「かえりましょう。」
「ちょっとまってください。とりをみたいです。」

It looks good to me.

To sound less repetitive and more natural (and colorful?) I think you could also...

  • use other verbs like つぶやく、はなしかける、きく、こたえる etc.
  • place the subject and the verb phrase before or after the dialogue
  • leave out the quotative marker と (though not always possible)
  • use the present tense (to sound vivid or lively)

For example...

スーさんが「さむいわ。」といいました。
「そうね。」(と)はなこさんがこたえます。


  • use 「verb+と」 form (meaning "When~~"), or a conjunction like すると  
  • you could even leave out the verb phrase (using 体言止め)

「さむいわ。」スーさんがささやくと、
「そうね。」と、はなこさん。


  • use a relative clause
  • you could even use a totally different verb than いう、きく、こたえる etc.

「さむいわ。」とふるえるスーさんに、
はなこさんが「そうね。」とちいさくうなずきます。
「かえりましょ。」と(いいながら)、スーさんははなこさんのてをつかみました。


  • you could also use 体言止め with a relative clause:

「そうね。」とうなずくはなこさん。


  • or you could even go like this:

XXにやってきたスーさんとはなこさん。しばらくすると、スーさんがこごえでつぶやきます。
「さむいわ。」
「そうね。」
「かえりましょ。」
「ちょっとまって。とりがみたいの。」


I think there would be several more ways but this is all I can think of right now...

Good luck :)
 

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