1. Listen to How People Talk.
Having a sense of natural speech patterns is essential to good dialogue.
2. Not Exactly like Real Speech.
But dialogue should read like real speech. How do you accomplish that? Alfred Hitchcock said that a good story was "life, with the dull parts taken out." Edit out the filler words and unessential dialogue --that is, the dialogue that doesn't contribute to the plot in some way.
3. Don't Provide Too Much Info at Once.
It should not be obvious to the reader that they're being fed important facts. Let the story unfold naturally. You don't have to tell the reader everything up front, and you can trust him or her to remember details from
earlier in the story.
4. Break Up Dialogue with Action.
Remind your reader that your characters are physical human beings by grounding their dialogue in the physical world. Physical details also help break up the words on the page: long periods of dialogue are easier for the reader's eye when broken up by description.
5. Don't Overdo Dialogue Tags.
Veering too much beyond "he said/she said" only draws attention to the tags -- and you want the reader's attention centered on your brilliant dialogue, not your ability to think of synonyms for "said."
6. Stereotypes, Profanity, and Slang.
Be aware of falling back on stereotypes, and use profanity and slang sparingly. All of these risk distracting or alienating your reader. Anything that takes the reader out of the fictional world you're working so hard to create is not your friend. Read some examples of how to achieve the tone you want without stereotypes, profanity, and slang.
7. Read Widely.
Pay attention to why things work or don't work. Where are you taken out of the story's action? Where did you stop believing in a character? Or, alternatively, when did the character really jump off the page, and how did dialogue help accomplish that?
8. Punctuate Dialogue Correctly.
The rules for punctuating dialogue can be confusing: many writers need help getting them right in the beginning. Take some time to learn the basics. A reader should get lost in your prose -- not feel lost trying to follow your dialogue. ** Provided by Ginny Wiehardt from About.com: Fiction Writing
9. Good Dialogue is Realistic but Has Meaning.
From Time to time, everyone will come across bad dialogue, and every writer is guilty of it. Bad dialogue may be completely sound grammatically, but readers will cringe anyway. Why is this? One of the most common mistakes a writer can make with dialogue is by pushing their own agenda into it. The writer, working in the background, is concerned with creating a story. Too often conversations between characters are sacrificed for the furthering of plot. This mistake is so common in fact that it has its own name: Expositional Dialogue. Try to use character conversations to more subtly advance the plot. To do this, do not be afraid to add details and description to fill in gaps for the reader, restricting the dialogue to what would be natural for the character to say. This is actually more enjoyable for readers in the long run. ** Provided by Rachel Shoemaker from Suite 101.com: How to write dialogue.
10. Vary the Length of Lines.
Here is why it matters:
- If Character A says something using half a dozen words...
- Then Character B replies using a sentence of the same length...
- Then Character A says something back using another short sentence...
- ...it can all sound a bit same-ish.
- Character A says something...
- Then Character B replies using a longer sentence. Maybe a couple of them. Or even three...
- Character A just shrugs here...
- So Character B says something else, something long again that goes on and on and on...
- Until Character A cuts them short with a quick line of their own.
The best way to tell if it does or not is to always trust your ear!
These are a few simple tips. Hope you find them as helpful as I did. I would love to hear tips from all of you and if you have taken a great dialogue class please share it.
Julie Johnstone, Marchioness of Mayhem