Do you know The Dos & Don’ts of Writing Compelling Dialogue?
In narrative, you can wax poetic about the setting sun. In dialogue, if you go on about the color of the sky, people are apt to find your writing pretentious. Why? Because readers will notice the WRITER in those scenes, not the characters. Good dialogue should strive to reveal character and emotional state, present information, and move the plot forward—ideally, all at once, without drawing too much attention to itself. Great dialogue proves catnip for readers . . . and publishers.
It’s not enough simply to record the way people actually talk. The dialogue must be concentrated, shaped, dramatically moving, in a way that real-life conversation seldom is.
— Philip Gerard
So, how do you avoid common dialogue-writing pitfalls? Implement these ten tips TODAY:
Studying your favorite films (or plays) is an easy way to hear snappy, suspenseful, and successful dialogue in action. Just remember, dialogue serves a slightly different function in literature than in visual mediums, as books provide access to characters’ thoughts as well as larger context. When watching, ask yourself: which techniques can you employ in your own writing, versus which are better left to the screen or stage?
For a deeper dive into how to write lines rich with subtext, check out my favorite article on the subject by Douglas Unger.
an Arizona-based editor who turns ideas into art. Need to get your book publication-ready?