Want to Make Your Dialogue Sparkle?

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Have you ever finished writing a scene of dialogue, re-read it and wondered why it doesn’t sparkle?

Below is an example of such a piece of dialogue:

A: ‘I knew the day I saw Maggie we were going to get married.’

B: ‘Oh, yes. Why was that?’

A: ‘She had the loveliest smile. It reminded me of my mother.’

B: ‘I never met your mother, did I?’

A: ‘No, she died of cancer the year before you started at the college.’

B: ‘I’m sorry. That must have been hard.’

A: ‘It was a difficult time, but I’m over it now. Life goes on, as they say.’

B: ‘I’m not sure I could feel the same. My parents and me are very close.’

A: ‘Maggie sometimes says I haven’t dealt with it yet, that I’m burying the pain, but I don’t think I am.’

B: ‘Sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.’

A: ‘Maybe? I’ve always respected her opinions. That’s why I promised her I’d go and see a counsellor about it. I don’t suppose you could recommend someone?’

So what’s wrong? It’s dialogue that shows the characters’ feelings, history, relationships, emotional tone. It even goes a little way towards driving the plot – character A’s impending visit to a counsellor. So why doesn’t the scene work? Why does it lack that special spark?

The answer is a simple one: dialogue needs conflict.

Give each character a goal they are trying to achieve within the scene, and then add something which stops them achieving it. In dialogue each character can become the other’s conflict.

Perhaps character B has spoken to A’s wife and is trying to recommend a counsellor to him. However character A wants to talk about more practical, work related matters. Maybe he’s worried about a new policy in HR which means he has to undergo an interview with the college psychiatrist.

Have a go re-writing the scene giving each character a definite goal which is somehow thwarted by the other during their conversation.

If you’ve found this post helpful I’d love to hear from you, or you might like to use the Share buttons below to tell others about it.

Picture c/o hovercraft doggy

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Tricks for Creating A Strong Character Voice in Dialogue

Making dialogue sound genuine is an art in itself. Creating a distinctive voice for every character in a story is no easy task.

Below are a couple of things which may help you write dialogue for each of your characters which steps off the page in a unique and individual way.

A Rainbow of Shoes and Legs for Breuninger by John Breed (1)

Vowel changes

Continue reading

Getting the Conflict in Your Dialogue Right

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I always enjoy the posts I read over on Kim’s Craft Blog. There was one in particular last week which I thought said something I hadn’t come across before. It’s all about letting big conflicts grow from small beginnings in your dialogue.

picture c/o hovercraft doggy.

5 Great Rules For Writing Dialogue From Wendy Storer

I’m very pleased to welcome Wendy Storer to the blog today with an excellent post on writing dialogue. Over to you Wendy …

Rule #1 – Dialogue should never be pointless

When your characters speak they come alive. Or at least they should do. If they are Mr or Mrs Boring and have little of relevance to say, if they are inclined to lecture, if they live in a vacuum or have no personality, then chances are your reader will not care if they live or die or dance the fandango stark naked. Continue reading

Could Your Dialogue Be Doing More?

Humans communicate by talking each other, it’s something we do all the time to tell each other things. So when it comes to writing fiction it makes sense use character dialogue to help tell the story.

Here’s some of the ways you can get your dialogue to do more: Continue reading

Tricks to Engage your Readers from Janet Foxley

I’m delighted to welcome Janet Foxley to the blog, who has some great tips on getting the most out of your story’s opening lines.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

We all know how important the beginning of a book is. If it starts too slowly, the browsing book-buyer will put it back on the shelf; but much worse, as far as would-be published authors are concerned, the weary slush pile reader will stuff it into the stamped addressed envelope enclosed.

Some people advise you to introduce your protagonist and engage the reader’s sympathy for him by the end of the first chapter; others say by the end of the first page; still others say by the end of the first sentence.

So how do you plunge into your story really quickly, without getting bogged down in back story or description? How do you introduce a character the reader is going to care about, and set up a narrative that is going to keep him turning the pages, in just one sentence? Continue reading

9 Tips for Writing Better Dialogue

There’s a great post over at The Creative Penn on techniques for improving dialogue.  You can find it here: 9 Easily Preventable Mistakes Writers Make with Dialogue.

Hope you find it useful.