Do’s And Don’ts of Dialogue

images-2People Do:

  • People interrupt each other a lot.
  • People Rarely complete a sentence at all.
  • People exaggerate, prevaricate, and lie.
  • People pause. Conversations aren’t continuous, silence is important.
  • People use slang words. They also say uh, um, and yeah a lot.
  • People use profanity.
  • People pair verbal communication with body language.

In real conversations, people also chatter endlessly about nothing, but that’s not something you want to include in your novel. Remember dialogue has to move the story forward.

People Don’t:

  • People don’t make long speeches unless of course, they are making a speech. Conversation involves a lot of back and forth, in very short phrases.
  • People don’t talk in long complex sentences.
  • People rarely talk about things they already know unless a question is asked.
  • People rarely say the name of the person they are conversing with and almost never more than once.
  • People don’t use proper grammar during day to day conversations.

Eavesdrop on conversations at the mall, restaurant, church social, coffee house… I think you’re getting the picture. You can pick up some great examples of dialogue for that next best selling novel you are about to write.

Reminder:  Dialogue and conversation are not always the same. It’s important that you know the differences. I would recommend that you visit my blog: Dialogue Vs. Conversation: They’re Not The Same!.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Do’s And Don’ts of Dialogue

2 thoughts on “Do’s And Don’ts of Dialogue

  1. (Feel free to delete this comment if it violates some rule of “Don’t disagree with/question the blogger.”)

    People don’t talk in long, complex sentences. People don’t use proper grammar during day to day conversation.

    Would it be wrong for me to ask that statements such as these be modified to say People may not… or Most people don’t…, rather than flat-out People don’t…? I’m just asking this as someone who does use long, complex sentences and proper grammar in day-to-day conversation. To me, reading a statement that people don’t do these things feels somewhat like reading someone declare in a book review that “Humans don’t have green eyes.” If people don’t do thsese things, what am I (and my brother, and my sister-in-law, and three or four of our friends)?

    Based on my observation of actual people (since I cannot use myself as an example), your list of how they do talk seems rather more accurate. I especially appreciate the mention of body language as an important part of communication, as well as mention of interruptions and pauses/silence. (Then again… not everyone uses profanity. Some cannot even tolerate reading it. Take a look sometime at the negative reviews some readers leave on Amazon because… *fake “shocked” gasp* the villian in a techno-thriller actually cussed once. Lethal violence described in detail is okay, but don’t you dare have a bad character say damn — that’s going too far! *rolls eyes*)

    I think there’s a danger in 1) assuming that the speech habits of one characer (or real person) are or should be the same for all others (as if there were no differences in cultural backround or even personality), and 2) trying to make fictional dialogue too “realistic.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I always welcome your comments. And you are right, these statements should probably say most people.
      I don’t cuss and while I can handle a “damn” or “hell no” occasionally when reading, I don’t appreciate a foul mouth and will put a book down for that reason.
      When I write blogs, I try to keep them short, focused, and concise. That means I don’t cover everything that pertains to the subject.
      You’re right, everyone doesn’t have the same speech habits, I’ve actually covered that in previous blogs. Dialogue is complicated and has many branches. Hope I didn’t offend you, and again, I appreciate your feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

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