Why is writing dialogue so difficult? My guess would be that you want your character’s conversations to sound realistic and relatable. But for some reason, that just isn’t easy to do. Writing dialogue takes skill and creativity, but this takes practice. Today, I am going to help you as best I can with tips that you can put into action immediately.
There are 5 helpful tips for writing dialogue. These include:
- Remember your character’s personality
- Watch conversations in real life or in films
- Avoid obvious and fluffy statements
- Listen to your dialogue
Tip #1: Remember your character’s personality
The first way that you can become a better writer, particularly with your dialogue, is by understanding who your character is. You need to treat them like a real person. Are they funny, smart, clever, or the opposite?
I have some homework for you that will help you understand how to implement this tip. First, write the name of a person who is close to you. Then, I want you to write out five personality traits that they have. Next, I want you to write common words or phrases that they say. Think about how they talk and present themselves. If you were to impersonate them, what you say? How would you act? Lastly, look at what you have written. I’m guessing that what they say matches their personality traits.
You can apply this to your characters too. Write your character’s name, write 5 personality traits, and write common words or phrases that they would say. Now you can go back into your conversations that are written throughout the book. Is this consistent with what you’ve written? If not, it’s time to rework the dialogue so that it is more consistent with who that character is.
Tip #2: Watch conversations in real-life or in films
It is time for you to become a creeper and start studying your surroundings. If you decide to watch conversations going on in real life, then you need to do the following. Pay attention to people’s mannerisms, tone, pace, and dialect. Take a mental note at the moment of the conversation. Then when you’re alone, write what you observed. You can utilise these notes when you’re creating a conversation to make it feel more realistic.
If you decide to watch conversations in films, then you can pause and write notes down as you are watching. How does the conversation flow? Something else you can do to implement this tip is to watch films with characters that are similar in personality to the ones that you are writing in your book. This will help you not only with writing dialogue but also with understanding your character on a deeper level.
Tip #3: Avoid obvious and fluffy statements
DO NOT TELL THE READER WHAT IS HAPPENING WHEN A CHARACTER IS SPEAKING! This will kill your dialogue and take your reader away from the story. Here are some examples of obvious and fluffy statements:
“You and I have been friends since grade school”
This example does two things incorrectly. First, the character that is speaking is telling their friend something that they both already know. This adds nothing to the conversation. This is unnecessary because both characters know how long they have been friends. It gives nothing to the reader or the story. Secondly, this statement is an obvious way of the writer trying to tell the reader a piece of information on the characters’ backstory. Instead, the writer should explain this outside of the dialogue.
“I am so sad”
The problem with this statement is that the writer is telling instead of showing. It is unnecessary for the character to say I am sad when the writer could just show or explain that character’s sadness.
“I’m good, thanks”
Small talk is boring in real life, so why put it in a book? Dialogue in books rarely start at the beginning of a conversation. Even if it does, you should just skip the small talk. This is because conversation is meant to add value to the story. Small talk isn’t meant to add value. It is meant to act as an icebreaker, but you don’t really need ice breakers in your book.
Tip #4: Add a purpose to the conversation
Purpose is immensely important in every aspect of your writing. When writing dialogue this purpose could act as a way to show the reader a bonding moment, move the plot along, establish the mood, or display the relationship between two characters. These are just a few examples. To implement this tip, ask yourself: Is there a reason this conversation is happening?
Tip #5: Listen to Your Dialogue
Hearing your written dialogue spoken out loud differs vastly from listening to it in your mind. There are several ways you can do this.
- Read the conversation aloud
- Have close friends or family act it out
- Use a text to speech tool like Natural Readers
Let’s Talk About It!
Writing is no simple task. My goal is to help make it easier for you so that way you can become a successfully published author. Here are common writing mistakes that authors often make.
- Poorly written dialogue (covered in today’s post)
- Unlikable or unrelatable characters
- Poor readability
- Plot holes (Read more here: 5 ways to avoid plot holes in your novel)
- Using cliches or all too common words and phrases (Read more here: What Are The Words To Avoid When Writing A Book?)
Today I went over 5 helpful tips for writing dialogue. You can implement these tips right away to create beautifully written dialogue. Add to this list by leaving a tip you have in the comments!
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