History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Writing Dialogue

One of the things I struggle with in my writing is dialogue. This is probably not helped any by the fact that my husband is VERY good with dialogue. He’s great at writing punchy and natural sounding dialogue, pretty much no matter what his characters are talking about. And while I can recognize that I’ve gotten better at it, I’m still not entirely where I want to be. If I let my dialogue go more “natural,” it often feels rambling. But when I tighten it up, it feels like there’s something missing there too.

I suspect that one trick would be to use stronger language in my dialogue… not in terms of cursing or anything, but just slim down the number of words used by choosing a word with more impact as opposed to five words that say the same thing. But as I also have been really working at using dialogue to create characterization, sometimes I find that I need to use looser phrasing to distinguish between one character and another.

The short story that I finished a draft of last week has three female characters, and when I asked Jeremy to look at the story, one of the things I asked him to keep an eye on was whether or not he could distinguish between the characters. I was pretty certain that the male characters had enough in their dialogue to tell them apart from each other as well as apart from the three women, but I was particularly concerned that I had two women who sounded really similar. He didn’t end up indicating that it was a problem, so that’s good!

About The Author


One Response to “Writing Dialogue”

  1. Nicole says:

    Ooh dialogue, one of my favorite topics 🙂 For what it’s worth (and apologies if I’m stating the obvious) I try to keep in mind the following when I’m writing dialogue: 1) Good dialogue doesn’t sound like actual speech but the verisimilitude of speech. Nix the Q&A echoing and filler words like “uh.” 2) Dialogue that advances the plot, heightens tension, and/or develops character is less likely to be boring. I read somewhere that all dialogue should be eavesdrop-worthy. 3) Obliqueness or subtext is a good technique for getting your dialogue to pull double duty. Or in other words, what is the character *not* saying? 4) And as you already pointed out, different characters should have different ways of speaking–Congrats on making that work on your current story!

Leave a Reply