Many of the tips so far have been devoted to emphasising the importance of dialogue in writing for children, but uninterrupted dialogue can be as boring as non-stop narrative.
Dialogue should be broken up occasionally by short passages of narrative, called beats.
The beats change the rhythm of the words on the page, adding visual appeal. They can be shown as action, gesticulation or internal monologue, and they have some very important roles to play in making the story more interesting.
Use the beat to describe something or someone
“What are you doing, you revolting child?”
Aunt Valentyna towered above him, red eyes glaring, jet-black hair standing on end, her ruby lips curled into a snarl.
“Well, I’m waiting. What is that thing?”
(Vlad the Inhaler)
Use it to add to the characterization of the speaker
Miska offered to go home with them. “I could explain what happened,” she said.
“No!” gasped Bill and Jacqui.
Miska watched them walk away. Oh gringalums, she thought. I’ve done it again. Every planet we land on, whenever I try to help, I get my friends in trouble.
“I’m sorry,” she called after them.
(Miska Messes Up)
You can also use the beat to change the subject or direction of the conversation
“We’d better get them up to the castle and tell someone,” said Harry, pushing his hair out of his eyes, trying to think straight.
“Come – ”
But then, from beyond their range of vision, they heard a yelping, a whining: a dog in pain …
“Sirius,” Harry muttered, staring into the darkness.
(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
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