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Fiction Dialogue Writing Tips Adapted From Real Life

by | Feb 24, 2014 | Writing Tips

dialogue writing tips

One great thing about fiction writing is the freedom you have to come up with completely new worlds, characters and scenarios that have never existed before. In fiction, America can turn into a poverty-stricken third world nation, human beings can have super-powers and animals may develop human characteristics. However, one thing in real life that you can hardly find a replacement for is dialogue. Here are some effective dialogue writing tips that you can adapt from real-life. These dialogue writing tips will help give your characters personality and bring their thoughts and ideas to life in a natural way.

Dialogue Writing Tips


Lesson From Press Release Writing: Real Dialogue Makes the Story Sound Real

Dialogue works in fiction writing as quoted speech does in press releases. A press release would hardly sound authentic if it didn’t have any quoted speech from experts in a particular field. Otherwise, the press release would seem more like a mere article – nothing befitting its glorified status as a hot and current news item.

Since dialogue makes your story look real, such dialogue must also appear real.

Give your character’s personality through the dialogue in your writing. Do this in a way that flows seamlessly with the rest of your story. Make it natural; otherwise your readers will be turned off. Good dialogue should bring your characters to life by highlighting the manner in which they speak, use slang, curse words, sarcasm and all of the other elements that make speech interesting.

Just because you have to use dialogue to develop the plot in your story, doesn’t mean that you have permission to contour character speech in unnatural ways. Perhaps, you have come across something like this:

“Diana, my wife with whom I’ve spent twenty years of my life here on planet Neptune, where did you put my tie?”

If the dialogue sounds unnatural to the reader, it will affect their reading experience. Simply, let your dialogue flow as smoothly as the prose. If dialogue is not needed in a chapter, don’t use it!

If you first consider the flow of your writing, you’ll discover when to include dialogue and when not.

Also make sure the dialogue fits the time period in which your book is written.

Indeed, if the story were set in a future world, why would the characters talk like 21st century humans? In some cases you may need to use your imagination to create a dialogue for a future world. Maybe by then people will be talking in abbreviations, following the word-shortening trend of the Twitter and Facebook generation.

A Balanced Diet Is Healthy: Give It Variety

If you intend to fill up your entire story with dialogue by writing every single word the characters say, then you would be better off writing a play. Just like a healthy, balanced diet, a good story needs variety – a mix of prose, dialogue, monologue and any other aspect you can think of.

If you had to eat broccoli as an appetizer, main course and dessert, you would not only lose your appetite, but also miss out on many other nutrients that your body needs. You can never grow healthy simply by “specializing” on only one food type. So also with dialogue in fiction writing.

So many things happen in the midst of dialogue: people fidget around, a lady plays with her hair, a mother cooks an entire meal, lovers caress one another and so much more. If all you write is continuous, lackluster dialogue, we might as well imagine that the characters are simply standing stiff like statues.

Dialogue means much more than just spoken words. In fact, people tend to communicate much more powerfully through inaudible physical gestures, regardless of the words coming from their mouths. When you capture these extra aspects in your story, you bring out a truly well rounded dialogue that your readers will enjoy.

Dialogue is Dialogue: Read It Aloud

This is perhaps the most powerful of all dialogue writing tips. Furthermore, you can hardly adapt this into any other form – you simply must read your dialogue out loud, just as it happens in real life. If it truly is speech, then it must be spoken out loud. When you hear it, you get a much clearer perspective than reading it on paper.

You can get an even better perspective by listening to an audio recording of your dialogue. If it portrays the underlying feelings within each character, then it will most likely evoke similar feelings in your readers.

Dialogue involves expressions, gestures and even silence. When you read aloud the dialogue, try to envision all the extra aspects and find ways to include them in your writing.

Just by observing many things in real-life, you’ll find other useful dialogue writing tips that you can adapt into fiction writing. You can also look to your favorite authors for dialogue writing tips and observe how they incorporate dialogue into their writing.

Which of these dialogue writing tips will you incorporate in your writing? Please share in the comment section below.

NEXT: Naming Your Characters – 4 Tips For Naming Characters In A Novel

Fiction Dialogue Writing Tips Adapted From Real Life



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