How to Write Dialogue

December 2, 20213 min. Read

Writing a great story requires excellent character development. To develop your characters, you will need to provide them with a voice and dialogue. 

What is Dialogue?

‌Dialogue is the conversations between your characters. The use of dialogue can progress the story, introduce new characters, and give them personality.

Writing Dialogue

Writing good and compelling dialogue that will keep your reader interested can be difficult. Every word your characters speak should have a purpose essential to the story. 

‌The conversations you provide your characters with should captivate your audience. Here are some pointers to help you get started. 

Mimic real conversation

When your audience is reading dialogue, it should transport them into the book and make them feel connected to the characters. This means your characters should speak in a way that is relatable and reflects real life. 

In real life, most people don’t speak perfect English. Instead, most people use slang and have accents that give a clue about where they’re from. The exception is if speaking perfect English is a character trait for one or more of your characters. 

‌Give characters voice 

Each of your characters should speak in their own way. Through the use of dialogue, the reader should be able to determine if the characters are mean, kind, sarcastic, funny, sad, and everything in between. 

Some ways you can give your characters a distinctive voice include:

  • Giving them an accent
  • Giving them a tone
  • Having them use different slang words
  • Giving each character specific phrases used only by that character
  • Changing up the dialogue verbs (e.g., “said” is often overused)
  • Sprinkling backstory information throughout the dialogue

Finally, don’t forget to add some action between the dialogue lines. Your characters should be doing things during their dialogue. Remember your characters are people, and people move around, shift, and fidget. 

‌Don’t forget to indent 

Learning how to write dialogue is essential for keeping your audience engaged. Make sure you indent your dialogue and put it in quotation marks. Also, begin a new paragraph every time a different character speaks. 

These grammatical rules will make reading the dialogue easier for your audience. 

‌Keep the dialogue short and direct

A long dialogue format consisting of too much information is a mistake new authors often make. As mentioned above, you want the dialogue to mimic a real conversation. However, you don’t need to include every “um.” You want the conversation to be realistic, but it doesn’t need to be word for word.

Here are some tips for keeping the dialogue short and to the point:

  • Cut out all unnecessary words
  • Enter the conversation as late as possible
  • Don’t dump a ton of information all at once
  • Spread out the backstory
  • Don’t convey information the other characters would already know

How Palmetto Publishing Can Help Yo‌u

At Palmetto Publishing, helping you publish a successful manuscript is our top priority. Our professional editors can assist you during your writing process and provide feedback on your dialogue. Contact us today to get started.

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