10 Hints for Writing Dialogue
Dialogue is one of the hardest things for any writer to contend with. How do you replicate something that is found so frequently? How do you make dialogue not sound forced or trite? Well, here are ten tips that should help you out in your quest to improve your dialogue writing skills.
1. Repetition – There’s nothing that can take the place of practice. Grab every chance to write dialogue. It might be in a dentist’s waiting room, on the bus, or in an airplane. Wherever you are, watch what’s going on around you and fill in dialogue. What are those two murmuring across the room?
2. Snoop – Listen to real people communicate. They don’t use precise grammar. They don’t use complete sentences. At times they talk over each other. Write dialogue like it really is. Dialogue is complex in its own way- the gaps, the crosstalk, the things omitted are just as essential as the words that are actually said.
3. Voice – Read what you write audibly. You’ll hear where it sounds unnatural or forced. You’ll catch where it doesn’t flow, and where it does. If you read quickly enough, your brain will spontaneously correct what you’ve done wrong, so pay attention to yourself as you read audibly. You’ll achieve a lot.
4. Roam – Feel free to yap on. Individuals rarely get to the point in discussions. Unless you’re writing a law enforcement officer or surgeon giving a report, don’t presume the characters will emit just the facts. People prevaricate; it’s a fact of life. Let your character chatter away and they’ll end up much profounder and more authentic.
5. Streamline – Don’t force your characters to say everything. Reduce your dialogue to the bare bones. A ‘yep’ or ‘nope’ can tell you a lot about a character. They don’t always have to reply to others, and they don’t always have to complete a thought. Let your readers fill in some breaks.
6. Chill– Don’t stress about making it flawless. Let your characters have their own voice. They may say things that you never thought they could. If you recognize your characters and let them speak through you, you’ll end up with much deeper dialogue.
7. Jargon – What you communicate in is a living language. It fluctuates. Let your characters’ dialogue echo who they are and where they come from. If they want to say ain’t, allow them to. It’s not your job to be the grammar judge for your characters. People speak poorly. They dangle participles, they use fragments, and they curse. Recollect that it’s not you that’s speaking- it is your character. They have their own opinion, so let them express it.
8. In for a penny– Don’t go to extremes with accents. Tell the reader what brogue a character has and then give tip-offs in the dialogue. No one wishes to read a page of apostrophes and purposefully misspelled words. A ya’ll or a gotta on occasion will remind readers of who’s talking, without the hassle.
9. Keep track – Make sure your readers can keep track of who is talking. A he said, she said will do great things for a dialogue-heavy piece. If you have more than four quotes without stating who is talking, you may want to toss that in. It doesn’t have to be difficult. ‘He hollered’ works just as well as ‘he yelled, crying to the heavens as his thundering shoutboomed off the walls’.
10. Show it– Recollect that people are reading your dialogue, not speaking it (unless you’re a screenwriter). If you want a character to take a break, inhale, or even stammer, you’ll have to write it. Cutting up a quote is a good way to show a pause. ‘It’s this way,’ she said, ‘I’m leaving.’ Because of that cut, the reader perceives the pause without being explicitly told it’s there. Unless you have a character doing something exceptional with the break between words, make it visual but not explained.
This Guest post is by Christine Kane from internet service providers, she is a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects for different blogs. She can be reached via email at: Christi.Kane00 @ gmail.com.