Strong dialogue can make or break a plot, so the conversations that you create for your characters must be believable. As the writer, it’s your job to remove the unnecessary and replace it with the important parts – the points that pack a lot of detail.
How do you improve your story’s dialogue? Let’s discuss in these five tips!
Be brief –You want your characters to make statements, not explanations. Think of how you carry on a conversation – nobody wants to listen to someone drone on and on, not allowing anyone else to get a word in edgewise. The same applies to the characters in your book!
Though it may seem difficult at times, try your best to keep each piece of dialogue down to as few sentences as possible before turning to the next speaker. Challenge yourself to encapsulate multiple thoughts into one sentence, or spread the conversation into different places in your story.
Location, location – When crafting dialogue, you must have your characters speak within context of the situation. Where are your characters? Why are they talking? What are they talking about? Answering simple questions like these can help tailor your dialogue in a way that will help your readers make sense of where this conversation is physically taking place.
Keep it simple – Though we are naturally tempted to over-describe, there are instances where simplicity reigns supreme, and this is the case for speech tags. Use your dialogue to articulate your character’s emotion. If your character is happy, use speech that will echo your character’s excitement. As a general rule of thumb, “he said / she said” are the easiest choices to avoid detracting from your story. However, if you feel that “she exclaimed” or “he whined” help elaborate on the character’s emotions, just keep the tag to that simple word. No need to say “he whined with great feeling in his heart.” Let the character’s words speak for themselves.
Know your characters – As the popular saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” This notion applies also to your characters’ dialogues. It’s important that all of your characters have their own personalities, and that their dialogue reflects these differences. It’s likely that a 70-year-old woman would not speak like a 15-year-old girl. Remember to make this type of speech distinction with all of your characters. A great exercise to strengthen the difference in characters is to remove the dialogue tags and the action, and read the conversation. If you can determine who said what, then you are going in the right direction with differentiating speech patterns.
Read it aloud – Read your dialogue to someone who will tell you if the conversation flows or if it’s disjointed. When you read your dialogue aloud, you’ll be surprised at the parts of the conversation that cause you to stumble or that don’t make complete sense. This exercise will help you fine-tune the conversations that live within your story.
Now that you’ve read over these five tips, it’s time to put them into action and improve your story’s dialogue! Happy writing!