#TheWritingDesk: 7 Tips for Writing Dialogue
Writing dialogue is an essential part of storytelling, and it can be challenging to make it sound natural and engaging. It has always been one of my favourite parts when it comes to writing. However, I do realize that not everyone enjoys writing dialogue. In fact, starting out, a lot of people struggle with writing realistic dialogues.
So, what should you do to make the dialogue in your prose sound more natural?
1. Listen to Real Conversations
One of the best ways to write dialogue that sounds natural and engaging is to listen to how real people talk. Pay attention to their word choices, tone, pauses, interruptions, slang, expressions, and gestures. Notice how they convey information, emotions, and opinions through dialogue, and how they react to each other.
2. Use Tags and Beats
Tags and beats are essential tools for writing dialogue. Tags are words that identify the speaker, such as "he said" or "she asked." Beats are actions or descriptions that accompany the dialogue, such as "he shrugged" or "she smiled." Using tags and beats can help you convey the tone, mood, and emotions of the characters and make the dialogue more engaging.
3. Convey Character Through Dialogue
Dialogue is an excellent way to reveal character traits, motivations, and conflicts. Each character should have a unique voice and way of speaking that reflects their personality, background, and goals. Use dialogue to show how characters interact with each other and how they respond to different situations.
4. Keep it Natural
Good dialogue should sound like real conversation, but it should also be concise and purposeful. Avoid using formal language, unnecessary exposition, or clichés. Use contractions, sentence fragments, and interruptions to make the dialogue sound more natural.
5. Skip the Greetings and Small Talk
In real life, people often start conversations with greetings and small talk, but in fiction, this can slow down the story and bore the reader. Start the dialogue in the middle of the action or conflict, and use the dialogue to move the story forward.
6. Use Action Beats
Action beats are a great way to break up dialogue and make it flow more naturally. They can also show the characters' emotions and reactions without explicitly stating them. Use action beats to create a visual image of the scene and to add depth to the dialogue.
7. Read Your Dialogue Out Loud
Reading your dialogue out loud can help you identify awkward phrasing, unnatural dialogue, or inconsistencies in character voice. It can also help you hear the rhythm and flow of the dialogue and make sure it sounds natural.
Writing effective dialogue is essential for creating engaging and memorable stories. By listening to real conversations, using tags and beats, conveying character through dialogue, keeping it natural, skipping the greetings and small talk, using action beats, and reading your dialogue out loud, you can write dialogue that sounds natural and engaging.