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5 Tips to Improve Dialogue

Dialogue can be an essential element of fiction writing, and it can be challenging to get right. Here are five tips to help nudge you along in the right direction.

1  Write Believable Dialogue
Even though what you are writing may be fiction, the words spoken by your characters should still be believable. Writing convincing dialogue will add a touch of realism and help to keep your readers engaged in the story.
     A great way to practice writing believable dialogue is to listen to snippets of actual, real-life conversation. You should write down exactly what you hear, and then rewrite it, leaving out all of the ‘ums’, ‘ahs’, ‘erms’ and any other extraneous words or noises. What is left should be sensible and direct dialogue.

2  Use Action with Dialogue
Don’t think that you have to rely solely on dialogue tags every time someone speaks. Instead, you might try identifying the speaker through action, after all, it can be a little bit monotonous for a reader to see ‘he/she said’ after every line of dialogue. For example:
     ‘Pass the whiskey.’ Dave sat with his arm outstretched, waiting for Steve to pass him the bottle.
     ‘Sure, catch!’  Steve slid it across the long table a little too hard and winced as Dave mistimed his grasp, causing the bottle to go sailing right past him, ending its journey with a crash on the floor.
     Dave groaned. ‘Thanks very much!’

3  Keep Things Simple
Stick to using simple language when you are writing dialogue. There’s no need to use long, complicated words and sentences. In general conversation, most people don’t speak like that and, if your characters appear to be walking thesauri, then your readers may become bored. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have one character speak like that if it’s a part of their personality – just not every character.

4  Avoid Slang
Using slang can date your story. By the time anybody gets to read your hard work, the slang terms that were common when you started writing will more than likely have grown out of use, and your characters may sound out-dated. It can be especially true if you are writing something such as a novel which can often take many years to complete.

5  Use Contractions
Many people tend to think that contractions are unprofessional. However, that is not true. After all, it would be unrealistic if all of your characters said ‘did not’, ‘is not’, ‘will not’ and such like all of the time.
     If your dialogue is always so rigidly structured, it can pull the reader right out of the story, whereas natural speech is likely to be more engaging.

As always thank you for using your valuable time to read my words, I very much appreciate it!

Until next time,

George

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