Short Guide to Creating Character Dialogue

Dialogue makes an important contribution in revealing your character's personality motivations, and conflicts. Writing dialogue is a neccessary skill for any story teller. Here are some ideas for how to make your characters sound authentic.

Reflect Individuality

Each character possesses a unique voice. A scholarly wizard wouldn't speak like a teenage skateboarder. Ensure the vocabulary, rhythm, and tone fit the character's background, age, and disposition.

Show, Don't Tell

Rather than stating feelings or situations plainly, use dialogue to show them. Instead of writing "She was angry," let the irritation show in her voice, "What on earth were you thinking?"

Subtext and Underlying Meaning

Characters often have hidden motives or emotions they don't directly express. This subtext adds layers of depth. A simple "It's getting late" could suggest a desire to stay or a desire to be left alone, depending on the context.

Dialogue Tags - Less is More

While "he exclaimed" or "she retorted" can add flavour occasionally, relying heavily on them can be distracting. Often, a simple "he said" or "she replied" is enough and this allows the actual dialogue to shine.

Realistic Rhythms

Real conversations have interruptions, unfinished sentences, and pauses. While your dialogue should be crisper than actual speech, including some natural elements can increase authenticity.

Physical Actions and Reactions

People don't just speak with their mouths. They gesture, frown, laugh, and display all sorts of other reactions. Mix up physical cues with dialogue to enrich the scene and provide context to the words that are spoken.

Revisions are Crucial

When you've finished a dialogue-heavy scene, read it aloud. This practice will help you spot unnatural rhythms or out-of-character phrases, refining the dialogue to perfection.

Dialogue is an effective tool, capable of transforming your narrative from good to unforgettable. So, tune in to the conversations around you and help your characters find their voices.

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