How To Write Dialogue
Author and teacher Maggie Hamand shares several tips for writing realistic dialogues, including practicing writing with another person and imagining characters as if they were real people.
It's really important to remember that dialogue is a two-way street. Each character in a good dialogue has a very different agenda from the other one. They've got to disagree.
Dialogue is all about conflict, so it's important also to think about the fact that your characters have different voices. If they have different voices, it will sound real. It will sound like it's two different people, and not just the same person echoing the other one.
Think about the different ways your characters speak. One might have an accent, one might not. One might have a strange mannerism; one might have a speech impediment.
Listen to people talk. Listen to real dialogue and see how everyone has a different way of speaking and everyone has their own verbal tics. This can be a useful way of identifying characters when they're speaking.
It's important that you lay out your dialogue clearly on the page. Dialogue always starts with a new line when it's a new character speaking, and any actions that that character makes stay on the same line as their dialogue. It's important that you don't have your characters going on for too long.
That's not dialogue, it's a monologue, and it can be very dull. Beware of certain common faults when writing dialogue. One of them is to have it clear what one character wants to say, and to have the other person simply feeding them lines so that they can say what you've already planned for them to say.
That's not how real speech happens. Also, beware of people ping-ponging backwards and forwards in a rather meaningless way without the dialogue heading in any direction. It can be a good trick to think about thinking of one character wanting to find something out and the other character wanting to prevent it.
That can create an interesting piece of dialogue. Finally, when you're writing dialogue, it can help to practice with somebody else. If you have two people writing dialogue, it's much more realistic.
Sometimes, other characters can go off on complete tangents. They can say things that are totally unexpected, and that sends your dialogue for your character off in a completely different direction, too. Once you've mastered writing dialogue with someone else, it's amazing that when you come back to writing your own dialogue, you'll find that it's much more energetic and much more close to life.
And that's how to write dialogue. .