This blog was featured on 05/17/2017
5 Tips For Writing Better Dialogue

One of the greatest writing crafts to conquer is creating engaging and unforgettable dialogue between your characters. Every writer faces the dialogue struggle at some point and often battles through self-criticism until they Google or consult their writing resources with one critical question: how do I write better dialogue? In addition to practice and rewriting, it’s important to absorb a few tricks to add to your writing tool box. Here are five easy ways to write better dialogue, no matter how experienced of a writer you are:

Learn From the Best: Real People

Like most writers, chances are you’re already a serial people watcher. Take that totally socially acceptable hobby to the next level and make it an official part of the writing process.

Go where people go — maybe it’s a local cafe or restaurant — bring a notebook and gently eavesdrop on their conversations and mannerisms that accompany their dialogue. Body language is just as important as dialogue when it comes to conveying a character’s meaning and relationship toward the other character.

When you have a solid grip on your plot and characters, go to the places they would go — perhaps it’s a club or an old tavern nestled in the woods. Proper research is important to writing perfect dialogue.

Don’t Rely on Exclamation Marks to Show Emotion

Writers often resort to using exclamation marks to portray emotions such as anger or sadness. Instead of relying on the safety net of punctuation, cushion your dialogue with the character’s body language and actions to convey their current sentiments and emotions of the moment. Remember the first cardinal rule of writing: show, don’t tell.

Study Authors You Admire

Every author has their own art to creating dialogue. Your prose will be completely unique to you and no one can recreate it, but it’s OK if that art begins with inspiration. With that said, it’s a perfectly clever strategy to study the dialogue of your favorite authors and study the linguistic and literary tactics they used to pull the readers in. Highlight, bookmark, re-read and remember whenever you’re in need of dialogue inspiration.

Remember Every Character Will Speak Differently

Dialogue isn’t a “one size fits all” creative deal. Keep in mind the age, nationality, education level, accents and personality of every character when they speak. Creating distinct and iconic characters can’t be done without giving them a unique way of conveying themselves through speech.

If you’re looking for a fabulous example of distinct dialogue, read by Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.

Be Hyper-Critical of “Fluff”

When editing and rewriting your manuscript, be sure to read the dialogue aloud and any conversation which doesn’t advance or enhance your plot — remove it shamelessly. Small talk shouldn’t exist in novels nor should needless dialogue.

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  • Robin Carretti

    HI, I Love this article very informative.