Perfecting the Art of Dialogue

by 320 R student
Jacqueline Balish

Often times, readers take dialogue for granted but the art of producing creative, original dialogue is just that: an art form. There are lots of things that need to be taken into consideration. In an article he wrote, author Nathan Bransford highlights a few keys that I believe to be crucial when writing convincing dialogue.

Good dialogue has a purpose and builds toward something. . . . Characters never just talk, there is always more to it.” Dialogue is an excellent way to build toward the climax of your book and that is exactly what it should do.

Good dialogue evokes the way people actually talk in real life without actually sounding precisely like the way people talk in real life.” Dialogue should imitate real life but needs to be much cleaner and more concise. Conversations in the real world include a lot of things that don’t need to show up in a novel. Good dialogue is better than what we hear in reality.

“Good dialogue goes easy on the exclamations and exhortations.” There are a few different ways to express excitement within dialogue without the use of exclamation points or using “exclaimed” as a tag. One way to do it is to set up the actions of your characters in such a way that the excitement is clear.

“Good dialogue is boosted by dialogue tags, gestures, and actions, so the reader can easily follow who is saying what.” Dialogue tags need to be invisible. The tag a writer should most use is said. Asked is all right, too.

“Good dialogue is unexpected.” There is nothing more boring than reading a block of dialogue and being able to finish the characters’ sentences. Putting twists and turns in the words of the characters keeps the reader on his or her feet and entertained.

As a writer, I feel that the single most important thing to remember is to write with distinction. Every character in a book, just like every person in real life, is different, special, and unique so don’t go trying to make every character in the book sound the same! The joker is going to have everyone laughing and the optimist will see the good in things. Diversity is a great! Bottom line: Realistic dialogue comes from realistic characters saying and doing realistic things.

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