Writing Dialogue

Avoid people talking in a vacuum! It must be perfectly clear where your characters are and what they are doing while they are talking.

Give the reader a chance to breathe and keep his interest alive by removing the obvious answers.

Create thrills between the lines.

Just as in real life conversations, allow your characters to misunderstand, talk across purposes, change topics of conversation, get angry, interrupt each other, hesitate, answer questions with questions.

Remember that many conversations are meant to hide instead of highlight and explain the reality. Thus good dialogue hides in silence and lies instead of revealing the truth.

Characters Dialogue

Develop your characters through action and dialogue

Show us, don’t tell us, what’s going on and why.  Don’t write ‘She was loud and rude’ but “Get outa my way, you jerk!’ she bellowed.

Is the character interested by what’s going on? Keep her active – no sitting around, doing nothing as she might walk off stage. Where does she go? Round out the character by showing complex psychology and emotions such as fear, frustration, anger, rage and envy.


Dialogue is like going out on a date

Dialogue is like going out on a date. You never say exactly what you mean but you hint at what you want. You dance around the question instead of coming right out and asking.

Listen to each character speak. If you can’t hear your characters speak, then most probably what you want them to say, most often ought not be said.

What differentiates each character is usually their word choice.  This is key in shaping their voices. Forget the sound of the voice, forget the accent, forget pace. Think word choice.


Let the words do the talking

Dialogue is give-and-take, a back-and-forth, mostly reflective of the characters’ attitudes. Don’t attempt to summarise what’s going on, no ‘long looks’, no direct statements.

Just let the words do the talking.