Writing Dialogue: The 5 Best Ways to Make Your Characters


Writing Dialogue: The 5 Best Ways to Make Your Characters

Whether you're crafting novels or short stories, mastering dialogue is essential. Dialogue is one of those crucial elements of fiction that many writers grapple with. It's challenging to make your characters' conversations sound natural and convey vital story details without feeling contrived or artificial. Here's how to write dialogue that feels real and engaging.

How to Write Dialogue

These are just a few good ways to ensure that your dialogue sounds believable.

1. Avoid Using Dialogue as an Information Dump

Relying on dialogue to dump information is a common pitfall. Too many writers use character conversations to relay plot details or backstory, resulting in dialogue that feels artificial and "on the nose." For example, instead of having a character explain their entire background in one breath, weave those details naturally into the narrative. Imagine a scene where a character's actions or reactions hint at their past rather than spelling it out explicitly.

2. Use Simple Dialogue Tags

Fancy dialogue tags like "she denounced" or "he proclaimed" might seem like a way to show off your vocabulary, but they often distract from the dialogue itself. Stick to simple tags like "she said" or "he said." These unobtrusive tags keep the focus on what the characters are saying rather than how they are saying it. For instance, instead of writing, "he proclaimed angrily," let the character's words and context convey the anger: "I can't believe you did that," he said, his voice rising.

3. Incorporate Dialogue Beats

Dialogue beats, or brief actions interspersed with dialogue, can enhance the scene's pacing and convey emotion or information. These beats help to ground the conversation in the physical world and make it more dynamic. For example, instead of writing, "I’m fine," she said, you might write, "I’m fine," she said, wiping a tear from her cheek. This approach adds depth and context to the dialogue.

4. Less Is Often More

In real life, people tend to speak in concise, straightforward ways. When writing dialogue, look for opportunities to trim unnecessary words. This brevity makes the conversation feel more natural. For instance, instead of writing, "I am going to the store to buy some groceries," you could write, "I’m going to the store." This streamlined approach mirrors how people actually talk.

5. Use Dialect Sparingly

Giving a character an accent or specific dialect can add flavor and authenticity, but it must be done carefully. Overusing dialect can turn a character into a caricature or offend readers. Use subtle hints of dialect to suggest an accent without overwhelming the reader. For example, instead of writing out a heavy Southern drawl phonetically, you might use a few choice words or phrases that suggest the character’s background.

Time To Write!

Mastering dialogue is crucial for creating believable, engaging characters. By avoiding information dumps, using simple dialogue tags, incorporating dialogue beats, embracing brevity, and handling dialect with care, you can craft conversations that feel natural. These techniques will help bring your characters to life, making your stories more immersive and compelling. Remember, the goal is to make your dialogue sound like real speech while serving the story's needs. Practice these tips, and your dialogue will undoubtedly improve, making your writing more dynamic and engaging.