Good dialogue brings your characters to life. With the right tone, the right set of words defines their personality and can make the reader love, hate, sympathize, or even loathe them.
Dialogue makes all the difference in your story, so here you have some tips on how to write it right.
1. One character, one voice
Each person has a distinct way of talking, and so does your character. Try to listen to them in your head before you start writing.
To help you define their voice, ask, “How old are they?”, “Where are they from?”, “What’s their cultural inheritance?”, “What level of education do they have?”
You need to also think about the person they are talking to. You don’t speak to your friends and boss the same way, do you? These details make your dialogue more realistic and relatable for your readers.
2. Not everything must be said
A written story is not a movie script. Sometimes, there is information that doesn’t need to be a dialogue. Summarize it instead by saying what they talked about and for how long. Don’t bore your readers with technical explanations and repetitive arguments in a discussion.
Often, you can start the conversation with dialogue to inform your readers and make them more engaged. Then, summarize the rest of the conversation if it is boring or irrelevant to the evolution of the story.
3. Keep it real
Would you say that out loud? Would you say it that way? Sure, your character is not you, but it makes sense for them to say it?
Sometimes, there are topics that you avoid. Your character can have those too. Be careful to be consistent. If your character avoids a topic but suddenly talks about it with someone, your reader should understand why this change happened.
The silence is part of the music. It is also part of a dialogue.
Unless you’re writing a script, dozens of dialogue lines can become monotone. You need variety to make your story interesting, so use silence in your favor. How? Make pauses to describe body language. Introduce some action like “He exhaled and sat on the couch.”. You can also describe what is happening around them while they have that conversation. These “subtleties” help your readers to connect.
5. Be subtle
In real life, not everything is said directly. Usually, you don’t approach a person and say something like “I think you’re hot.” out of the blue. Conversations need to make sense with your character’s personality type.
Besides, dialogue has two levels that you shouldn’t ignore. One is what your character says, and the other is what they mean. How many times in your life have you said something, trying to imply a completely different thing? These details make your dialogue and your characters real to the readers.
6. Who said what?
Your readers need to know who said what. This being said, avoid too many dialogue tags like “she said” or “he asked”. It makes the writing boring. Every time it is evident, just don’t put any. Other times, mix it a little and use different ways to tell your reader who is saying what.
If your character has a distinctive tone, it will significantly help.
Dialogue: what does it tell about your characters?
Writing good dialogue is essential for bringing characters to life in a story. To help you write effective dialogue, consider the tips above. By implementing them, you can create compelling dialogue that informs and reveals essential insights into the characters.