How to Write Better Dialogue

Why is dialogue so important to good story writing? The same reason that communication is essential to any good relationship– because you have to understand someone to care about them. The main reason readers continue turning the pages is because they care about your characters, and dialogue is the key to allowing your reader to understand these new fictional characters.

Just before writing a scene, play it over in your mind – several times – this helps to get the feel for the characters and the story dialogue. The first few times you play the scene in your mind it should be silent, but gradually, allow the characters to come to life. Visualize them speaking to each other, as well as consider the thoughts that are taking place inside their heads. By doing this, when the dialogue emerges characters are talking to one another, not at each other.

Writing dialogue is the most interesting tools we use to pass on information and reveal character. Among the secrets to engaging story dialogue is that the characters don’t necessarily need to be discussing something important to the story. As an example, a man and a woman meet for the first occasion in a supermarket and the reader sees they are attracted to one an other– they don’t have to refer to their attraction. Instead, they discuss their loathing of queues and rising milk prices– something they share which brings them together. The conversation becomes more compelling as it reveals their characters.

Whenever it comes to story dialogue, we need to express what we are trying to communicate in each particular scene, and then weave it into the action by breaking it into sections. Think about the way people speak in reality. They never just stand still and speak. They are always moving, touching their hair, folding their arms, raising their eyebrows, or touching their chin as they communicate.

A well handled dialogue scene can infer past events, clarify the underlying nature of a relationship, and reveal what a character has been doing ‘off stage’. If you can really get a character’s tone and mannerisms right, at the end of the story your reader should know what your character’s goals are, their inmost desires, and how they were brought up.

What are some things you can do to go about creating realistic dialogue in your story? Start by watching and listening to real people when they speak. Study their actions and characteristics and how they move while they are talking. However, in real life people tend to say the same thing several times over, and in our fictional worlds we want everything to become concise and valuable to the story, so get a taste of how people interact with each other, but reduce it by half.

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