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How to write good dialogues in a story

Updated: Aug 17, 2017


I believe dialogues are the most important part of a story; they create an authentic story, make the plot move forwards, develops relationships and convey emotions.

Without dialogues your story will lack of realism and won't be engaging but don't worry, here is how create dialogues that help your story instead of destroying it.



Become an observer

In order to writer believable characters, a writer has to know how people act in real life.

Observe and study people around you as if you were studying them. How act a shy person? How move the hands an angry teen? Where do shy girls look when they talk? How couples act in front of other people?

Of course, when creating characters you can exaggerate some features to make them 'special' but this doesn't change the fact that they have to act coherently to their personalities.


Become an actor

The better way to write a good dialogue is becoming the character who is talking.

How? With acting.

Is when you impersonate your characters, feel their pain and joy and see the world with their eyes that you can be able to talk like they would do. In order to do so you have to practice your acting skills. You wouldn't believe how many good writers took acting class to learn or improve their acting skills to write credible dialogues.


Read dialogues

Once your dialogue is written, it's time to read it out loud. When you read them it's almost impossible to not see where the dialogue doesn't flow or where it sounds mechanic and forced.

Reading out loud good dialogues from your favorite books can be useful too since it will show you how to they are done. Once you read them ask yourself what you enjoyed the most about them and why. Then apply these criteria for your dialogues.


Know your characters

You cannot let your characters talk and behave if you don't know them. A good way to know everything about them are characters charts.

You can read my article about them here:


The main purpose is moving the plot forward

Now that you know your characters and you are able to show their personalities is time to write the actual dialogues but what is the purpose of them?

Your dialogue is not there just to save you from the descriptive and narrating parts; its purpose is to move the plot forward and to build characters.


Example:


'Hi, how are you?'

'Great, and you?'

'Fine.'

'Did you see your Mom today?'

'No, have you?'


This is the type of useless dialogue that was added just to fill blank space. You have to ask yourself: does this dialogue create conflict, build relationship, move the plot forward or analyze personalities? No? Then it has to be removed.


Let's take the same example as before and add soma value to this dialogue.


Anna's mother was found dead the night before. Although the police suspect it's suicide Anna thinks she was murdered by Tom.


Tom was sitting on the bench, looking at me with a big smile on his face.

'Hi, how are you?' I asked approaching.

'Great, and you?' he said standing up.

How could he not know that my Mother died the night before?

'Fine.' I answered crossing my arms.

'Did you see your Mom today?'.

His eyes were looking deep into mine, as if he was trying to see inside my mind.

'No, have you?' I replied trying to hide my anger.

My blood was boiling while my mind kept thinking of his dirty hands around my Mother's neck.


Now, I don't have a plot for Anne and Tom story and I don't know them as characters but this dialogue is more useful than the first one.

Why?

It moves to plot forward since Anne is studying Tom behavior in order to understand if he really killed her Mother.

It shows and build Anne and Tom relationship by portraying how they act and talk.


Don't say things twice

'I hate you!' he yelled with anger.

See in what this dialogue tells the same thing twice?

We can already image he is anger so no need to write it twice.


Example:

Tom is a heartless guy who is used to never commit in a relationship. He is breaking up with Anne.

'I hate you' he yelled crying.

A better way to show his personality than adding that he is anger.

Why is he crying if he doesn't about Anne?

How will Anne react after seeing a guy like Tom crying?


Keep it realistic without being real

Even though dialogues have to seem real, characters don't have to talk like real people they just have to sound like them.

Think about your favorite movie; dialogues are always meaningful, straight to the point and deep.

Nothing to do with how your Mother can ramble about the same topic for hours without being bored or with the incapacity of your friends to say what they want to say without using lots of useless words.

Dialogues have to be an impression of reality.




What about you?

You like writing dialogues?

What is the most difficult part of their writing for you?

Don't hesitates to share your opinions in the comments. ❁



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