Dialogue In Stories And Novels: Tips To Improve
The conversation between characters can be the most entertaining for both readers and writers. Here are suggestions to consider while writing a dialogue:
Why write dialogue?
There are mainly three purposes for writing dialogue.
A way to reveal the character
Advancing the plot of the story/novel
Knowing types of conversation would help you in writing them. There are mainly 4 types:
1. Direct dialogue
This is when the character is quoted as saying, "' The best subject is math,' she said."
2. Indirect Dialogue
Is saying the quote but gives the feeling that the reader was there as: was she always like that? I'm not sure. She did that before. How could I not notice it?
Giving the reader a summary of what the characters were talking about, for example, they had talked about how their father is sick.
4. Internal Monologue
This is not exactly a dialogue. It's a way to show the characters' thoughts or emotions on different actions as they happen as: She walked near the park, noticing how beautiful it is. Suddenly, she saw a kid trying to start a fire.
Styles and rhythms
In real-life conversations, each person has a speaking style. To each character in your story/novel, there should be a style too. Readers must realize the difference between characters through their dialogue. If not, then it could confuse them, especially in long dialogues.
A great way to improve your dialogue is by cutting the conversation and making it as short as possible. There are a lot of filler words and unnecessary information in real conversations. However, in stories and novels, putting filler words would only make it boring.
Fragments, slang, and contractions
To make dialogue more real, using fragments, slang, and contractions would help a lot. It still depends on the situation and person; sometimes, you want to make the character sounds very formal.
Usually, people don't call each other by their names. They give them nicknames, refer to an action that happened, such as "the guy I met in the gym," or characteristics like the redhead or the smart girl. This can help make your dialogue more believable, which is the goal.
Body language and actions
A big part of the conversation is body language and actions. Sometimes instead of making a character say, "I'm happy to see you," it would be better to show that the character smiled once they saw the other person. Adding actions can also improve dialogue like saying: "they started running once when Steven said 'It had to be Chris' and then it hit them. Chris did it. It had to be him." You could also interrupt them or change subjects.
Goals and what is hidden?
Is it to explain a superpower the character has? To show that two characters hate or like each other? Knowing what the primary goal of the dialogue would only help you make it better. Make sure there are no dialogues without reason. It would only confuse the reader and possibly bore them. Also, there is always an unsaid part of the conversation. Is the character trying to ignore something?
Resources to improve
· The "Shakespeare Original Pronunciation" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPlpphT7n9s)
· The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue: A Fresh Look at an Essential Ingredient of the Craft by John Hough
· The Fiction Writer's Guide to Dialogue by John Hough
Exercises to improve
· Record a conversation or eavesdrop on a conversation and write it while doing the tips written above.
· Choose a topic and create a dialogue with 2 to 4 characters. It could be about what they think about an action or a person in the story/novel. Add descriptive sentences to balance it. Possible topics:
- A girl met a cute guy, and she is telling her best friends about it
- A fictional power in their world like wizards or vampires
- A superhero beating a villain
I hope this article helps you with your writing. Share your thoughts in the comment section. Like the article and share it with your loved ones. Thank you for your Patreon donations :)