Back to Articles Index

Dialogue Tips

Nothing can break the mood of a piece of writing like bad dialogue. In nonfiction, the hope is that the person actually said the words that you have attributed to him or her. In fiction, though, anything goes. Dialogue is more like a movie than it is like real life, since it should be more dramatic. There’s a greater sense of action. First of all, sound your words-read them out loud. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, mouth your dialogue. If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days-listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. You take home all you’ve taken in. all that you’ve overheard, and you turn it into gold. Remember that you should be able to identify each character by what he or she says. Each one must sound different from the others. And they should not all sound like you; each one must have a self. You need to trust yourself to hear what they are saying over what you are saying. At least give each of them a shot at expression: sometimes what they are saying and how they are saying it will finally show you who they are and what is really happening. You might want to try putting together two people who more than anything else in the world wish to avoid each other, people who would avoid whole cities just to make sure they won’t bump into each other. Nothing like a supercharged atmosphere to get things going. Good dialogue gives us the sense that we are eavesdropping, that the author is not getting in the way. Thus, good dialogue encompasses both what is said and what is not said. Dialogue is the way to nail character, so you have to work on getting the voice right. It’s dialogue that gives your cast their voices, and it is crucial in defining their characters-only what people do tells us more about what they’re like, and talk is sneaky: what people say often conveys their character to others in ways of which they-the speakers-are completely unaware. Dialogue is a skill best learned by people who enjoy talking and listening to others-particularly listening, picking up on the accents, rhythms, dialect, and slang of various groups. The key of wring good dialogue is honesty. And if you are honest about the words coming out of your characters’ mouths, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism. The point is to let each character speak freely, without regard to what people may approve of. To do otherwise would be cowardly as well as dishonest. Talk, whether ugly or beautiful, is an index of character; it can also be a breath of fresh air. In the end, the important question has nothing to do with whether the talk in your story is sacred or profane; the only question is how it rings on the page and in the ear. If you expect it to ring true, then you must talk yourself. You must shut up and listen to others talk. When it comes to dialogue it comes down to two things: paying attention to how real people around you behave and then telling the truth about what you see. Happy Writing!

Added by: User Mason Bushell
Created on: 2021-10-26 10:28:30
Last Updated: 2021-10-26 10:28:30

Back to Articles Index





BOOKiWROTE Affiliations