Nail Your Dialogue!

Do you like writing dialogue? Many writers do. They think written dialogue should imitate natural speech with the ummms and pauses interjected. However, this only comes off making the speech sound and read hesitant, and quickly bogs down the scenes. The reader has to be entertained and move through the scene without having to reread it due to pauses or clunkiness.

It helps to hone your dialogue skills by listening to real conversation. Take an opportunity this week to eavesdrop on conversations you hear in a cafĂ©, bar, or McDonald’s. Write them down.

Try asking a question of different people you know and write down their responses and see how they compare.

Another exercise to try out is watching a few different kinds of shows on TV and write down the dialogue from each. See how the language from a newscast varies from a sitcom or a police drama.

Then try to recreate some of these scenes on your own and come up with you own dialogue scenes. The most compelling dialogue has some element of tension or conflict.

See if you can eliminate the lines of dialogue that are repetitive, explains plot, or repeats information.

Good dialogue should sound natural, enhance the scene, move the story along, and show character by his or her reaction to the other character’s words. Good dialogue, while including pauses to create suspense, is sharp and clean. Revise your dialogues so they move faster like those on TV.

Last but not least, read it aloud until it sounds perfect!