How to Write Dialogue in Fiction

Dialogue-writing is one of the most important skills to have as a fiction writer. If you want to write powerful, emotional, engaging conversations, keep reading for my 3 best tips.

dialogue writing tips for fiction authors ultimate guide

You can have the most beautiful setting, the most vivid characters, the most gripping plot... but if your dialogue falls flat, you've lost the reader. So what do you do? You make your dialogue-writing skills the strongest they can be. And here's how you do that.

Don't Make it "Real"

As writers, we're tempted to make our dialogue realistic -- so you try to make every character sound like they would in real life. And that's one of the biggest mistakes you could make. Dialogue in fiction can't be realistic, because if it were, your scenes would sound boring and clunky. Who wants to read a conversation full of "um" and "ah" and "like" and "you know", anyway? Not me, that's for sure. Your readers want you to get to the point. So do just that -- get to the meat of the dialogue without making it too "real".

Act it Out with Someone

Or even by yourself in front of the mirror, if you don't have a writing buddy around. Even though you don't want your dialogue to seem too realistic, you also don't want it to sound formal or robotic. Acting out your dialogue, or even reading it out loud, can help you identify instances where your characters are talking like nobody would. For example, saying "they are", "I am", or "you are" just isn't common anymore. If you're writing contemporary fiction, you want the dialogue to flow effortlessly.

Read Something Else

This is going to be your favourite tip, isn't it? Every writer loves procrastination, after all. I know I do! But this might just be the most useful tip of the lot too. Pick up a book you've already read, maybe a 5-star book, and analyze the dialogue. What makes you love the conversations these characters are having? How does the author bring about each character's individuality and quirks through dialogue? Which snippets make you want to keep turning the page? Make notes, re-read them, and then try to emulate those skills into your writing. Not those same words, but those same techniques.

Which of these tips are you going to try next? Comment below and let me know -- and if you want another pair of eyes on your dialogue, I'm always here to offer my manuscript critique and copy editing services! Get in touch via email now.

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