Writing a dialogue between characters can be tough for many authors. However, it does not have to be. These tips can greatly improve your skills to write dialogue.
The ability to write a dialogue between characters is extremely important for an author. When written well, dialogue can be the heart of a story. The best dialogue is a conversation that flows between characters seamlessly. Poor dialogue on the other hand will feel awkward and take the writer directly out of the story.
Here are some tips to write strong dialogue.
Dialogue Should Be Important
When you write dialogue in a story it should convey important information. This will make it extremely intriguing to read. Dialogue is a tool for the author to develop characters, world build, and of course, advance the plot. You should avoid writing dialogue that does not accomplish these things.
It can be easy to fill your story with unnecessary dialogue. Long greeting conversations or those that do not have a point should be cut out. Writing a dialogue between characters is a unique way to provide useful information to the reader. Do not bore them.
Be sure not to convey too much information in bulk. While it is important to include important information in dialogue you should not overstuff it. The last thing you want to do is make your dialogue an info dump.
Writing a Dialogue With Distinct Voices
As a writer, you are providing the voices of all your characters. Despite this, they should not all speak like you. Every character should have a unique voice. These distinct character voices should be unique enough that you can tell the difference between the quotes of different characters.
This may seem daunting to accomplish but with a bit of effort, it should not be too tough. The key here is to write well-developed characters. When you do this the dialogue will fall right into place.
One thing you want to look into when it comes to giving characters distinct voices is what words would they use. People often have phrases they use regularly. Some people enjoy using profanity while others avoid it at all costs. A smarter person may have a better vocabulary than an uneducated character or child. These are some good things to consider when writing a dialogue between characters.
You may also want to incorporate a character’s traits in the dialogue. Some characters are bold while others are timid. Different characters also handle emotions differently. For instance, some characters are prone to angry outbursts while others try to maintain peace. Incorporating all of this into the voices of your characters will make their voices distinct. The result of this is vastly improving your story’s dialogue.
Reading your dialogue out loud can help you hear if characters sound too similar to each other. It may seem cheesy but you should read your dialogue out loud to yourself. It will help.
Grammar Is Not Too Important When Writing a Dialogue
When writing a book it is easy to worry about dialogue. The last thing you want is for your story to be ruined by an incorrect phrase or an improper sentence. You do not want your dialogue to be a grammatical mess. However, not every sentence your character speaks needs to be grammatically perfect. It is better if it is not.
In real life, people do not speak grammatically perfectly. There are phrases you use in conversation that you would never consider writing in a paper. People abbreviate words. People say phrases incorrectly or talk casually. Incorporate some of this into your dialogue.
You can even base how formal the dialogue is based on the setting. You speak differently when hanging out with your friends at a party than you would at a wedding. Reflect on this in your story’s dialogue.
Look at Real Conversations
The good news about dialogue is it is easy to do your research. People have conversations around you every day. All you have to do is listen.
A lot of everyday conversation is too boring to be incorporated into a book. Many authors make the mistake of including this conversation thinking it will make their book more authentic. While this is not a great idea it is wise to study real conversation to write dialogue.
By paying attention when people speak you can pick up on some tips to make your story sound more authentic. If you struggle with this you can even experiment with writing dialogues between people you know. This can give you a feeling of what you need to include in your dialogues between characters.
If you struggle with developing characters you can also lend them traits of people you know in real life if it would make things easier.
Do Not Overcomplicate Dialogue Tags
When writing dialogue the most important element is what the character is saying. In some cases, a dialogue tag can emphasize something that is happening in the background or point out more information, but in most cases, you want to draw as little attention to that tag as possible.
Some people will always disagree, but I am firm on the idea that said is an invisible word. It does not stand out as much as other dialogue tags do and transports you seamlessly into dialogue. Unless there is a strong reason to use another tag I strongly recommend you use said. Other words like spoke, pronounced, or voiced ate less common, meaning they draw more attention.
Said is certainly not dead. Do not be afraid to use it in your novel. Forget what your first-grade teacher told you about it.
Now, you should not use dialogue tags in front of every quote. Sometimes it is best to go right from one quote to the next. You do not always need a dialogue tag. Especially if you have given your characters a strong voice you can go straight from one quote to the next.
Dialogue Should Not Include Too Many Name Drops
It is important to name someone when you are calling them out of a crowd or getting their attention. Other than that, however, you do not typically use someone’s name too often in a conversation.
While you do not see it often in real life you see this constantly in fiction. Characters constantly say each other’s names. This makes dialogue extremely awkward. The only name drop characters in dialogue when it is necessary.
Also do not write siblings refering to eachother as “brother” and “sister”. That is weird.
Incorporate Writing a Dialogue With the Narrative
I love reading dialogue. It gives me more insight into the characters and their dynamics than traditional narratives. That being said, too much of anything is no good. When you write a story you want to balance dialogue, action, and narrative.
You want to include all of these pretty evenly in your story. One should not dominate a chapter too much over the others. If you see a page in your story that looks like a script you may want to divide it up better with action or narration.
Too much dialogue can tire the reader. Spread it out between the narrative and action of your story.
Good dialogue in a story can draw a reader in. It makes it easier for them to relate to characters and makes the story appear more realistic.
As with everything in writing, with practice, anyone can improve their dialogue skills. Focusing on these tips will make a world of difference in the dialogue in your story.
You know what a good conversation sounds like. If you are unsure of your ability to write a dialogue between characters, read your dialogue out loud. Your ears will tell you what sounds good and what you can use some improvement in.
Check out this post for tips on writing a text conversation and formating it.