The beginnings of writing dialogue can be daunting, to capture many perspectives and make each one unique isn’t easy. Here are a few tips every writer needs to know when writing dialogue. Personally, dialogue falls into focus post-second draft. Having a good idea of what they say, loosely, then focusing intently on dialogue when your plots wrapped up. Working in layers from the big picture to the minor details was always the best course of action for me. That goes for any project!
Make your Characters speak Differently
Have you ever read something where the characters sound like the same person? Yeah, it’s difficult get past when your Russian character reads like an Mid-west American accent. It takes practice to nail the way someone speaks. If you have difficulty with making dialogue different, then focusing on mannerisms can help a lot. If that doesn’t help, then going back to the drawing board might be an option.
Getting to know your characters inside and out will keep you from getting hung up on the little things and will make the writing process a lot smoother.
Yeah, there’s situations in your dialogue where you might want to drop a paragraph of information to establish characters, the world, how it all works, etc. I’m telling you now, don’t! There are other ways to convey information by having your characters ‘do‘ instead of ‘listen’. I know some of you might be worried about confusing your readers. Don’t worry, readers are smarter than you think! They don’t need info dumps to baby them. A little mystery can push the narrative, so keep your readers asking questions.
“Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine… you?” “Not to bad, like your new coat.”
This example of small talk is something you never want in you novel. Yes, its relatable, we all have small talk to awkwardly fill the silence when were not completely comfortable. Yet it lacks compelling friction and make your characters feel bland. You want to relate to the reader with more compelling traits in speech. Getting right to the words that push the plot and build character even. Unless small talk is a defining character trait/ moment and has relevance in your story, leave it out!
Read out Loud!
I can’t tell you the amount of editing you can accomplish on your own, when reading the dialogue out loud. We can have tendencies to veer off our sentence flow when constantly rewording or rephrasing things to keep characters true to form. After finishing a chapter, its best to read over it out loud and fix any hang ups that could give you high school English teacher an aneurysm. Just think how people actually talk and capture that as best as you can.
Doing this for your second draft will keep your editors happier if you didn’t. Cutting cost and heart break when the dialogue ruins the readers experience, because of the convoluted sentence structure.
When placing tags in your dialogue, it’s easy to settle on ‘he said, she said’ tags, ultimately making the conversation come off very stale.
In stead of following the ‘he said, she said’ formula, opt for variance to carry the tone. Using words like ‘she shouted, he lamented’ or ‘she stammered off, eventually barring silent and skiddish.” These sort of variances add real world dynamics to who these characters are and make them a ton more relatable. Implying body language speaks volumes about the tone of a scene if you do it right.
You could even get away with leaving the tags out all together, Especially when you want to keep your dialogue quick and snappy. The use of dialogue structure can aid you when using tags just becomes over-barring. It can slow down the pace of your intended scene.
Just keep in mind that a new person speaks every-time you indent another line of dialogue. There are exceptions to this, when two ‘and it you want to get weird, three’ characters finish an illustrated though in a sentence. For example: When someone interrupts another speaker.
I hope you found this information useful, Keep writing and check out my other blogs for helpful information!