I’ve always been a sucker for excellent dialogue. Snappy, clever remarks make for memorable characters, situations and so much more! Dialogue has brought me to tears, and laughter, and has infused me with a hundred emotions that I couldn’t have expected would overcome me.
Dialogue doesn’t have to follow perfect grammar
You want the characters you write to be believable, plausible, real — not carbon outtakes with perfect diction, correct pronunciation and no quirks what-so-ever! Dialect can be written, and it should…although you probably don’t want to overdo it. Too much of any dialect might come off as confusing and distracting, and two things you never want to do with dialogue is confuse and distract.
Dialogue advances the plot
No one enjoys reading back-and-forth that doesn’t carry things forward; not for long, anyway. Note, if you attempt to use your dialogue to dump information on your readers’ poor heads, you will (deservedly) earn yourself a great deal of annoyance. It’s a fine line, between these two states, and one you should take care to walk on. When you do, you should be putting your readers to work, looking for implications in the dialogue.
By adding implications, you make the dialogue a whole lot more interesting and engaging for the imagination.
Dialogue shouldn’t be repetitive
This one is pretty self-descriptive and could be added to the point before it. There are exceptions in certain situations — but then again, there always are!
Dialogue rarely needs speech verbs
Adding the likes of ‘she said, he said,’ and ‘he responded, yelled’ after each line of dialogue you write isn’t only necessary, it also gets boring after a while. Your dialogue will speak for itself most of the time, and will be unique and recognizable on its own merits.
We’re operating on the premise that your dialogue has merits, you see. A vote of confidence, if you ever got one!
Conversation can be direct and indirect
What does that mean? People will not talk about the same thing at the same time; I’ll often get asked some question, and go on a completely different tangent, change topics, sprint through them…and so much more.
That’s my two pence when it comes to Dialogue! See you next week!