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Taking Your Dialogue From Good to Great

Lots of writers have a hard time with dialogue. Maybe you think "ah, that's no big deal." Think again! If you’ve got a great story and awesome characters with TERRIBLE lines, I'm sorry... But not a lot of people are going to want to read your work. And so, everything suffers for it. Yes. It's that important. Like with anything else, getting good a dialogue is a process. Not a difficult one, but a process nonetheless. But with a few simple steps, your dialogue will go from good to great in no time! 

1: Read your dialogue out loud

Get alone with your manuscript, open up to the first part where your characters speak, and read it out loud to yourself. Try it a few times. Does it sound like something a real person would say? No? Delete it. Now rewrite it... But this time, say what you’re writing out loud. Make sure it sounds like a real person talking. 

2: Movie night!

Movies are 80% dialogue. Pop in one of your favorites and take notes on the dialogue! Easy as pie and fun to (or at least a good excuse for procrastinating) Or, if you prefer to read, try getting some movie scripts and studying them. 

3: Eavesdrop

This sounds terrible… But it really works. Eavesdrop. Seriously! Take a journal, hike on over to the nearest coffee shop (Or McDonald’s or Burger King or whatever), and just write down everything you hear. Sit at a little table all on your own and listen to the conversations people have around you. That’s as real as it gets.

4: Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little

Another problem with dialogue is having characters that all sound the same. Fact is, not all characters are going to! Some of them have Gaelic accents and others southern drawls, some characters like to say the same word over and over and over again. Some people might be more proper and never use contractions, others might not know any better and speak with very bad grammar. It’s all part of who they are. Don’t take that away from them! Instead, use it as yet another opportunity to show the reader who they are as people. 

5: Talking isn't all they do

Remember, characters can do things while they talk. Instead of boring "he said, she said" dialogue tags, try using an action as a tag. This also helps to keep the scene interesting.  

I hope you found this helpful and fun! Thank you so much for taking a peek! 

     I love hearing from you! Don't hesitate to comment below if there is any particular subject you would like me to address in my next post. Also, feel free to share how these steps have worked for you or if there is any different dialogue methods you prefer...
     Thanks for the read! 
     Meredith Cole

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1 comment

  • Yes, this is so good. Always read back what you’ve written. It’s the best way to hear your dialogue in your head, with your own ears! :D

    Ismael Rodriguez

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