I am doing yet another blog on dialogue. It’s one of the most important parts of your novel and will lead to your downfall if not done correctly.
A few important things to keep in mind when writing dialogue:
- Dialogue is not real speech. It is the illusion of real speech. Your dialogue should not be wordy or too formal-unless you’re talking to your boss or doing a presentation. Think about how you talk to friends and family. You don’t always use complete sentences. You trip over each other. Sometimes you don’t even get your complete thoughts out because of the constant interruptions.
- With dialogue, you can choose your words more carefully. When we speak to people, we may think, I wish I had said this or that, or I wish I had said that differently. Well in Dialogue you can. Edit your words to say just what you want, but make them sound natural.
- Fictional dialogue always has a point. You can’t waste words talking about the weather. Your dialogue has to move the story forward.
- Your characters are not the same and should speak differently. Some people are quiet, others are domineering. Some people only want to talk about themselves, are manipulative and downright unbearable to be around 🙂 Are they educated or uneducated? Are they from Alabama or New York? I think you are getting the picture.
- A character will even change the way they speak based on who they are having a conversation with. I speak differently to my husband than I do to my son. I speak differently to my boss than I do my friend.
- Dialogue used for exposition can be tricky. It is almost always better to try to find another route, unless you have mastered the skill. In most cases, a narrative summary is a much better choice. Who wants to read three pages of two characters bouncing back and forth explaining what they already know?
- Try to avoid synonyms for ‘he said, she said’. You know what I’m talking about. She whined, he exploded, she shrieked. All you are doing is driving your reader crazy and calling attention to an action you should be showing. You should even avoid ‘he said, she said’ as much as possible.
- What’s not said is just as important as what is said.
I can honestly say I have been guilty of breaking all of the rules in writing dialogue, and not in a good way.
I hope this helps some of you newbies out there to avoid some of my more memorable mistakes. Dragging dialogue 🙂 Really!