We can judge the usefulness of a study by asking, to what extent has the project helped, or will it help, us to hear the silences?Gerald M. Sider
Documentary about Puerto Rico
Ethnographic Writing Tip # 5 - Embrace Dialogue
“Learning how to write dialogue can liven up a manuscript,” the professor said.
“But many ethnographies use block quotes or straight transcriptions of their informants’ words,” the student said. “I want to be faithful to the original conversation.”
“Writing good dialogue can be more faithful to the original conversation. It incorporates the voice of the ethnographer and allows for the inclusion of specific details about vocal intonations or body language,” the professor replied, modulating her voice and crossing her arms across her chest.
The student shook his head. “But no one ever taught me how to write dialogue.”
“There are some great style guides out there, and it is worth learning how to do because well written dialogue infuses a text with stylistic diversity. Varying the lengths of your paragraphs will make your writing more reader- friendly, and the best way to create short paragraphs is to write dialogue.” The professor raised her eyebrows.
“Maybe I’ll give it a try.” The student nodded.
“Good.” The professor smiled. “I hope you do.”