How to Write Good Dialogue

March 13, 2015 by No Comments

A core technique of story telling is dialogue. Despite hearing dialogue on a daily basis it can sometimes be really hard to write believable dialogue. Today we hope to help solve this problem with the help of The Novel Doctor and Lit Reactor. However, before we get to them we are going to start with a short video from BBC’s Writersroom that talks about the different elements of dialogue.

The video is a great starting point. Below you’ll find some more in depth advice on how to write dialogue.

How to Write Good Dialogue

For advice on writing good dialogue we are going to visit The Novel Doctor and his two part post How to Write Good Dialogue. Stephen Parolini‘s, the real name of The Novel Doctor, tips are:

  • Simplify Attributions
  • Don’t Be a Puppet Master
  • Maintain Believable Pacing
  • Avoid Long Monologues
  • Kill (Most) Adverbs
  • Use Contractions
  • Don’t Give Readers Whiplash
  • Look, Who’s Talking Now?
  • Are You Listening?
  • Context Rules
  • I Know, Right?
  • Say Something, Anything
  • Stop Talking
  • Rants and Speechifying
  • ‘Nuff Said

Stephen Parolini‘s article, like everyone we pick here at West Lothian Writers, has lots of detail behind each point, over a thousand words in fact so head over to The Novel Doctor‘s website and read How to Write Good Dialogue Part 1 and How to Write Good Dialogue Part 2.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Dialogue

When working out how to do something often finding out what not to do is just as helpful. With this in mind we are heading over to Lit Reactor to have a look at Susan Defreitas’ article The Seven Deadly Sins of Dialogue. According to Susan the sins are:

  1.  Said Bookisms
  2. Impossible Verbing
  3. Lack of Body Language
  4. Lack of Stage Business
  5. On-the-Nose Dialogue
  6. Everyone Here Sounds Alike
  7. Conversational Filler

As you may have noticed, Susan‘s advice is quite similar to Stephen‘s which is always a good sign. If two folk as good as Susan and Stephen agree on something then it is worth listening to. Check out The Seven Deadly Sins of Dialogue on the Lit Reactor website to read the reasons behind each of Susan‘s sins!

What do you find the hardest bit of writing dialogue? Tell us below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *