So to kick off my Wednesday Writing Tips I have decided to start with 6 tips on writing great dialogue.
- Explaining when you don’t need to.
Ex: “I can’t believe she said that! Well, I’ll just have to give her a piece of my mind when I see her next.” Jane exclaimed angrily.
Ok, written on the fly, so not the best example. But, the point is, in the example Jane is going to give someone a piece of her mind. The whole line conveys that she’s angry. Tacking on ‘angrily’ at the end is not needed. Try to avoid this.
2. Watch your Tags.
– he said
– she said
– they said
Sometimes it’s ok to say ‘he said’ but watch how many times you’re using tags. Sometimes it’s not always necessary and can impede your flow.
3. Pay attention to conversations around you
This is where being a people watcher comes in handy. If you’re sitting at a coffee shop, or in a book store, or a park, listen to those around you. How are they interacting with each other? How are they moving? What is their body language like? There is more to great dialogue than just what your characters say.
4. Give each character distinct speech patterns.
Now, obviously, your female main character is not going to sound anything like your antagonist. Or at least, she shouldn’t. And her little sister who is only seven is not going to sound anything like the captain of the football team. Different people, different ages, will all have a different way of speaking. Their word choices.
So when you are writing for your character, make sure they sound like themselves. You don’t want everyone to sound the same where your reader will have trouble distinguishing who is speaking without having to reread it.
5. READ IT OUT LOUD!
No, seriously. This is one of the best things you can do to hear how it’s flowing. When you read something aloud you will stumble when the flow isn’t right. If you stumble, you know something is wrong and you need to look at it again. I always read any dialogue I write out loud.
6. Just let it flow.
And finally, just let it flow. When you first start writing a draft just let it flow as it comes to you. Obsesses over it after you have finished. Don’t stop progress to agonize over your dialogue choices. It’s much easier to edit your dialogue after you have written it. So just keep going.
So there you have it. Five plus a bonus tip on writing dialogue. Do you have any to add to it? Let’s hear them.