Monday, June 21, 2010
7 Ways to Improve Dialogue
“Hi, how are you?”
“I’m good thanks. How are you?”
Readers don’t care about these pleasantries. They don’t have a lot of time to sift through all the inconsequential babble. It only gives them a reason to put down your book.
2. Make it Show, not tell. Dialogue is a great vehicle to reveal backstory and keeps the plot moving, but used incorrectly, it can come off as a mere devise and make the characters sound stilted. By using it to show the story in a natural way, the readers can become more involved and engaged.
3. Keep it interesting. The careful use of dialect and slang will help to bring the characters alive and will add an element of realism. Just be careful not to over-do it.
4. Avoid speech that is too realistic. Often conversations between people are clipped and repetitive. People also add lots of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. In the quest for realism it’s not necessary to include these elements into written dialogue. It only makes it slow and confusing to read.
5. Remove clichés. It’s just as important to avoid clichés in dialogue as it is to avoid in description and plot. Don’t get lazy.
6. Don’t forget the spaces between the lines. A lot can be revealed in a character through the words they don’t say. A silence or an action can speak louder than words.
7. Avoid large blocks of pure dialogue. If all you give your reader is a wall of chatter, the reader can quickly lose connection with the story. Break it up with action and description. It doesn’t have to be a lot of action or a wad of description. We are after variety to add flavour and interest. It will also give you greater control on the pace of your story.
Can you think of other ways to improve dialogue? What are your weaknesses when writing dialogue?