The pocket-guide to writing better dialogue
Writing authentic dialogue is hard work.
How do you capture the natural cadence and reactive dynamic of speech? How do you give your cast of diverse characters realistic voices that reflect their personalities and where they come from?
Here are 6 tips to get you on your way to writing better dialogue.
1. Don’t info-dump
Dialogue with too much exposition is unnatural and insults the reader’s intelligence.
Keep dialogue realistic. Exposition belongs elsewhere.
2. Don’t over-explain with adverbs
If it’s obvious from the action how someone would be feeling, it is not necessary to duplicate that feeling with a pesky adverb.
If she’s literally crying, we know she’s sad. Enough said!
3. No speechifying
Real people don’t give speeches during normal conversation. (Unless they’re really annoying and self-centered).
Keep dialogue brief and fragmented, just like real life.
Go to a coffee shop and eavesdrop. Write down what you hear. Take note of different speech patterns and quirks.
However, a word of warning: Go easy on the um’s, ah’s and like’s. Don’t be too realistic.
5. Stay in character
Give your characters unique voices and stay true to them.
People’s backgrounds, personalities, and relationships define the way they talk to each other. Play with idiosyncrasies and speech quirks to differentiate.
6. Read out loud
Hearing your dialogue out loud will make it come to life. Try it!