Made in America

NaNoWriMo: Tips for writing dialogue

Dialogue. Some novel writers love it, others struggle with it. If you’re in the second group, here are some tips on how to get started with dialogue this National Novel Writing Month.


Listen to on screen dialogue

Watch a TV show or movie, and pay attention to how the characters speak to each other. Use what you observed to help you write dialogue in the future. While writing for the screen and writing for a novel are different, paying attention to how people talk can help get a feel for how you want your own characters to speak.

Study plays

Plays are almost all dialogue, and they can be read on their own for literary merit. Read a play that could be similar in genre to the novel you are writing in order to pick up on rhythm and flow of dialogue. 

Establish characters’ personality

If you have a good handle on how your characters are, it will be easier to write how they talk. Pre-establish your characters’ traits before you write your book or before you write a scene. Use character charts like this one here to figure out who’s who in your story. 


Don’t overthink it

The nature of the novel means that most of the story is not told in dialogue. Therefore, dialogue is an added bonus, an extra spice. Don’t overthink it, and go with what feels most natural to you and your characters. Additionally, don’t force dialogue into a scene where it doesn’t need to be. 


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