Dialogue is one of the most important parts of a novel and requires careful and deliberative treatment. It is an instrument of sorts to help your readers decipher a character as well as a break from the monotony of prose. Plus, dialogue helps you convey overtly what characters are feeling and how that relates to the plot. Here are 10 tips for writing flawless dialogue.

Be realistic…

If your dialogue is too flowery or eloquent, it will only serve to disconnect the reader from reality and become aware that this is a carefully crafted book. If you want your reader to stay immersed in the story and experience it with depth, your dialogue has to be realistic. This means that your characters should say things that actual people are likely to say in reality. While speaking, people aren’t their most intelligent or articulate selves.

… But not overly realistic

However, realism should only go so far. In real life, people stutter and stumble, and say incoherent things all the time. They often use words like ‘uhm’ or ‘like’ to connect their words while thinking of what to say next. Also, people use pleasantries like good morning or how are you when they meet. All of this makes dialogue in a book dull and dreary. When all is said and done, your book is still carefully crafted and not a replica of reality.

10 Tips For Writing Flawless Dialogue
10 Tips For Writing Flawless Dialogue

Give each character a unique voice

One important way to distinguish among characters you create (especially in dialogue scenes where multiple characters speak without any tags) is through voice. Each character should have their own personality, traits and background which should determine how they speak. Apart from this, the kind of words the characters choose, the language as well as the meaning, should reflect who they are, and give clues to their past and future actions.

Don’t make it overly sentimental

While in the flow of writing, many writers make the mistake of making their dialogue overly sentimental. That’s all well and good while writing but while reading, it sounds trite and artificial. No one is overly emotional nor does anyone speak in elaborate metaphors in real life. Unless your characters’ personality or time period or other considerations demand otherwise, the dialogue should be crisp and should convey what’s important.

Leave out small talk

Simply put, small talk is extremely boring for readers. Pleasantries like good morning and how are you are simply unnecessary. Similarly, small talk like asking about family, etc. can get boring. Unless the scene demands the use of small talk in order to convey a situation of awkwardness that reflects the relationship between characters, it’s best to stay away from small talk. It interrupts the flow of a book and disengages the reader from it.

10 Tips For Writing Flawless Dialogue
10 Tips For Writing Flawless Dialogue

Mix it up with narration and tags

At regular intervals between dialogues, it’s important to add narration and tags. Not only does this break the monotony of endless dialogue, but provides cues to remember who is saying what. After a lot of dialogue, it’s probably nice to explain with “x said” that x made a point. Similarly, narration helps to make the covert feelings of the characters while conversing overt and smoothens over the bumps of a conversation.

Don’t make it overly long

No one speaks, especially during intense moments, for too long. Most conversations wither off and are renewed again – there are lulls in most of them. So it’s important to include great dialogue, but it should be brief and impactful. Too much dialogue can suffuse the impact of it. Also, too much dialogue can become either boring or incomprehensible if the reader forgets who is speaking what. Thus, concise dialogue that makes its point is the best.

Be true to the setting consistently

All characters operate within a time period and space. Thus, it is important to constantly keep this in mind while writing dialogue. A princess from the 18th century probably wont use vulgarities and a street urchin will probably only use slang. Many writers write great dialogue in keeping with the setting in the beginning, but it fades away eventually. This is the worst mistake a writer could make. Consistently write appropriate dialogue.

10 Tips For Writing Flawless Dialogue
10 Tips For Writing Flawless Dialogue

Don’t info dump

The worst thing to use a dialogue for is to info dump. Dialogue should convey a point, and should be absolutely restrictive to the essential. By info dumping, the reader loses sight of the story. Info dumps in any case are terrible for writing, but that is especially so in the case of dialogue. This is because the character’s voices lose their essence if a lot of irrelevant information exists within dialogue.

Remember that everyone doesn’t say what the mean and doesn’t mean what they say

A dialogue is not only a device or instrument to say something. It is also important to pay attention to what remains unsaid. What people make out to be via their speech and what they actually are is not always congruent. And such an incongruence in a literary text creates the perfect type of tension, if the reader knows about it. So try making your characters say something they don’t believe cause they want to, or to deceive or avoid.

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