#EdenLit - Lessons: Writing Great Dialogue

Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Make Your Dialogue Make Sense!

Any reader knows that good dialogue can turn even the most mediocre story into something worth reading. The opposite is true as well; even the best story can be utterly ruined by bad dialogue. Here is a check list of the most common mistakes people make when they begin to try their hands at writing dialogue.

Write Dialogue with a Purpose- dialogue should advance the plot, serve as a way to define your characters, and clue the reader in on what is actually happening in a very close and personal way. When your dialogue achieves all three of these important purposes your reader is excited and completely involved in the unfolding story.

Write Conversational Dialogue- conversation has an ebb and flow to it that the good writers will spend time attuning themselves to. They study things like accent, inflection, phraseology, and how certain words are repeated to make a point. Good writers also study non verbal conversation with an eye to describing it for their readers. Good writers watch, listen, and even transcribe what they see, feel and hear when they converse. This helps them to write dialogue that is natural and flows easily. Good writers will also attune themselves to what is NOT being said and the double meaning behind phrases we use on a daily basis. To be fully realized characters have to be able to be as indirect as real people are. They can emotionally blackmail and manipulate others just as much as you can. You will know that you have mastered this skill when your readers understand what is NOT being said as well as what is being said.

Avoid Boring Your Reader- you are able, as the writer, to remove any extraneous dialogue that has no real bearing on the story. Read your dialogue aloud to see if it flows naturally and to make sure everything is concise, understandable, and authentic. Each character should have a unique voice and flavor to their speech patterns.

Avoid Presenting Too Many Facts/Ideas- you should always assume your readers are intelligent enough to fill in the blanks! You do not need to spoon feed them all the facts. If it goes without saying…don’t say it!

Avoid Needlessly Long Passages of Dialogue- good writers know that they can lose a reader with too much pointless dialogue. There are many places you can express feelings with non-verbal clues. Break up your dialogue with short action narratives. The proper mix of dialogue and narrative will help your reader to build a mental image of the entire picture. It will free them to pause for a second and really “see” what is going on. Besides we don’t just sit and statically recite when we converse; we fidget, gesture, breathe, pause, and even eat or drink. A bit of this sprinkled into the dialogue will make the conversation feel real and flow. It also negates the need for overly descriptive passages to catch up the reader.

Dialogue Is Not the Only Tool to Convey Information- dialogue should be used to inform the reader but it also needs to show conflict, keep the story progressing, show character development, possibly reveal ulterior motives, and highlight the themes of the story. Dialogue should also help to build suspense and set the mood of a scene to follow. This is very important when the action scene that follows is pivotal to the resolving of the story conflict.

Do Not Overuse Slang, Swearing or Vernacular- Three dimensional persons sprinkle their conversations with slang, swearing and odd little colloquialisms they do not use them constantly! Remember less is more and your reader is intelligent enough to “get it”.

Avoid Overdoing Dialogue Tags- It is best to use the old standby, “He said” or “She said” unless the sentence really calls for something else. Don’t use synonyms for the word “said” it sounds stilted and breaks up the flow of conversation. If it is clear who is speaking, try leaving off the dialogue tags altogether. Dialogue tags should only be used to clarify who is speaking but once again your reader is, hopefully, able to connect the dots!

Use Proper Punctuation- poor punctuation is the biggest hurdle to easily understood dialogue. Not only can it confuse your reader it can completely leave them frustrated. For a more in-depth look at properly punctuating your dialogue check out Eden Lit Lesson-Punctuating Dialogue.

Once your dialogue conforms to the cadence and flow of regular speech your work will take on a deeper quality that characterizes truly great story writing!
10/08/2012
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Twisted Angel Twisted Angel
Quote:
Originally posted by Airen Wolf
Make Your Dialogue Make Sense!

Any reader knows that good dialogue can turn even the most mediocre story into something worth reading. The opposite is true as well; even the best story can be utterly ruined by bad dialogue. Here is a check ... More
I think this is the most difficult part about writing for me. The ebb and flow of conversation. Keeping it interesting without making it seem too much.
10/08/2012
Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
Quote:
Originally posted by Twisted Angel
I think this is the most difficult part about writing for me. The ebb and flow of conversation. Keeping it interesting without making it seem too much.
Many many authors have problem with dialogue. Sometimes it helps to just sit in a public place and listen. I find this helps me to pace and choose my words carefully.
10/10/2012
Total posts: 3
Unique posters: 2