One of the most effective ways of revealing character is through the character presenting himself in his own words.
If you just write: “He had no problem in spreading lies and innuendos” you know little about your character, but if you use his words, such as Trump’s words about Obama’s birth certificate, you get an immediate impression of the man:
“Who knows about Obama? … Who knows, who knows? Who cares right now?… I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I will write a book, I will do another book, and it will do very successfully.” (taken from an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on January 6, 2016)
The function of dialogue is to talk the unknown into existence. It conveys information, moves the plot and reveals character. It shows education, class and culture.
Even though when we read a story, we recognise people and details from the real world around us, these stories would be pointless had the hero not been extraordinary in one way or another.
We can quickly lose interest if the hero is not somehow out of the ordinary. She may wear the mask of the common woman, but underneath this mask lies the true hero.
Bias is not a good starting-point for interesting dialogue. A biased writer may like to give his hero all the best lines but such dialogue only belongs to the predictable world of soap operas.
Biased dialogue can feel like a fixed wrestling match between good and evil. The writer shouldn’t insult his readers by delivering such nonsense.
Write a page of dialogue between two people where one is trying to tell the other something unpleasant without coming right out and saying it.
For example, a wife telling her husband that she wants a divorce.
What do we talk about? We remember the past. We all live in moments of glory – like old soldiers reliving past battles.
If necessary, read it aloud until it sounds as natural as possible. Remove most (if not all) of the adverbs (which usually slow things down) and keep the “he said, she said” down to a minimum without losing track of who’s talking.