Writing Dialogue

Welcome back to Motivational Monday!

When I first started writing seriously, about sixteen years ago, my biggest worry was how was I going to write dialogue.  How was I going to make each character sound different?  What was I going to do with the dialogue tags?

A writer friend of mine suggested I go sit in a mall or coffee shop and listen.  He said you aren’t after the words people speak, but the rhythm of their speech.  I did what he told me to do, and you know what?  There is a cadence to speech–almost a music to it.  And just to keep in practice, I still do that listening, everywhere I go.

Sometimes I pick up a phrase, an accent, or something else useful.  Sometimes I’m just listening for types of voices–from squeaky to a low growl.  Sometimes I even get story ideas, or at least character ideas from the way people speak.

And you know what?  It was like a miracle!  I could write dialogue without any problems.  My characters have quirks to their speech, and it all came from just paying attention to the way every day people speak.  A note here:  Avoid constant accents in your dialogue.  They are hard to read, and the reader can get bored quickly.  Just a word or two in accent is enough.

As for the dialogue tags, well, if you have only two people speaking, you only need to add them every four lines or so.  You know, the “he said” “I said” “she said” sort of thing.

When more than two people are speaking, every person needs a tag.  The “said” thing can get boring, after a while, so fill in with “growled” or “cried” or “shouted,” where appropriate.

Oh, and dialogue can also give description, as in “Mary is such a pain,” Alice moaned.  “She’s always gossiping about one person or another.”  (Okay.  Now we know to avoid Mary, right?)

So that’s my take on writing dialogue.  Pay attention and listen to people around you.  It really helps.

Happy Reading and Writing Dialogue to you all,



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