Dialogue can make or break your novel — and you don’t want to be part of the later. We talk everyday, and often all-day for some of us, so you would think writing dialogue would be a simple task. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t harness your dialogue skills. That’s where I come in. I ALSO, would love to write dialogue so captivating that people reading my work can hear my character speaking in their head.
Essentially I want everyone who reads my work to think they’ve gone mad.
1. Write better than you speak.
Have you ever sat and listened to people talk to each other? We’re all stupid. Ok, that’s a little harsh… but we use fillers such as “um”, “er”, & “like”, way too often. On top of that, I would hate to count the number of times I’ve discussed the weather with someone during the day. Regular, everyday conversation is rather boring. Spice it up — two people with opposing viewpoints is far more intriguing than people being agreeable.
2. How do you get to know people?
Why, generally speaking, you start a dialogue with them. Why should it happen any differently in your novel? Dialogue should be a vehicle you use to deliver information about your characters, the plot, scene setting, or any piece of vital information your reader needs to know. Don’t overdo it, nobody likes verbal vomit — spoken or written. Without adding action in between the dialogue, your novel will go nowhere, action moves your story forward.
3. It’s all about the He Said, She Said B#!!$&^*
(ya I changed the lyrics to suit my needs, deal with it.)
I think you know what I’m talking about here, dialogue tags. In school I remember my teacher drilling it into my skull to never use, “he said”, “she said”. I don’t agree completely with that advice, while you shouldn’t overdo it with these tags, I think they can be very effective. I find them to be very short, and sweet — straight to the point. An even trickier skill to master with dialogue tags is when you have more than two people in the conversation. How can you effectively portray who is talking, without a barrage of dialogue tags mucking up the actual dialogue? Author, Raimey Gallant wrote a great article full of tips to creatively help you avoid this mess. Check it out!
4. Talk to yourself.
Ha! I want you to feel like you’ve gone a bit mad too! What is the life of a fiction writer, if not a slow departure from reality — we create fake worlds all day long. 😉 Seriously though, read your dialogue out-loud. If something sounds off when your speaking what you have written, it will be a lot easier to detect, and correct, opposed to just reading it in your head.
I hoped you enjoyed this even-numbered list of helpful dialogue tips, it’s even-numbered but I bet it annoyed the hell out of you because it a list of 5. I did that on purpose to annoy you, and create conflict — just like you should be doing in your dialogue!