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The United States book publishing industry was estimated at USD 25.71 billion in the year 2020. This included audiobook sales amounting to USD 1.3 billion and e-book sales reaching a whopping 191 million! Since stories have become a way for readers to satisfy their imaginative curiosities, writers need to have good writing (and dialogue writing skills). The right lines said at the right moment can make readers feel more emotions than they’d thought they had.
Therefore, authors now spend a considerable amount of time creating an effective strategy before putting pen to paper. Some story writing techniques include deciding the usage of words, style, and recognizing the underlying themes of your plot before creating content.
Of the many tools that aspiring writers can employ to help readers connect with the story, crafting excellent dialogues is key. Discover the 5 unique tips to excellent dialogue writing that can boost the impact of your story below-
1. Say the dialogues out loud
One of the best and most effective ways of recognizing if your dialogues sound realistic is by reading them out loud. This is especially beneficial if you are writing in a genre that requires well-structured conversations that add to the plot.
When you are reading your dialogues out to yourself, you may find that they sound cheesy, or unrealistic, or Hollywood-y. So, if your dialogues do not sound like something a real person would say, you may need to make the relevant edits.
Also, remember that written dialogues are different from our daily life conversations. Written dialogues often have more “weight,” since the author has a specific purpose behind them. Each sentence in written dialogues shares meanings significant to the development of the story and/or the character.
2. Understand action beats
Dialogue beats are short phrases in a speech that can be said without pausing for a breath. Used commonly in dialogue writing, they often correlate beats to actual sentences.
One of the best ways to add depth and context to your dialogues is by including relevant action beats. These action beats are the internal thoughts, movements, and expressions that accompany a speaker’s words. These beats contribute significantly to a plot by allowing readers to visualize the scene being described in the story.
Writers often include action beats in the same paragraph as the dialogue. This is indicative that the person speaking is also the person taking these actions. This can contribute significantly to keeping your dialogues fresh and varied. It can also help you avoid ending a long dialogue with the popular “he said” or “she said.”
Additionally, action beats can add context to a conversation and illustrate the key aspects of a character’s personality. This can help readers gauge the significance of the dialogue beyond what is being said.
3. Create a good voice
A “voice” is described as the verbal and the non-verbal way in which a character communicates. Voices are often dependent upon the character’s personality, beliefs, experiences, cultural influences, and also their worldview.
In dialogue writing, the strength of a character’s voice plays a crucial role in delivering the authenticity of their conversations to a reader. A simple and effective exercise to practice your characters’ voices and refine their dialogues is by selecting 3 characters from your story.
With these three characters, write a brief conversation about a general and mundane topic such as ‘pineapple on pizza.’ The key in this exercise is not to use dialogue tags.
The question that this exercise leads to is – will your readers be able to tell which character said each line?
4. Remove what is not necessary
In regular conversations, people often speak with quick starts and stops. So quite often, filler words like “er” and “um” are used in regular speech. In real life, a group of people speaking may also frequently talk ‘over’ one another.
A good writer may put their efforts into emulating realistic patterns of speech in dialogue writing. It is necessary, however, that the dialogue is as “readable” as possible. Remember that your story and dialogues are not a transcription of the conversation between your characters. Keeping dialogues realistic can leave readers feeling confused and bored.
Instead, remove unnecessary commentary and filler words, and write your dialogues in a way that is crisp and clear. Keep in mind that the dialogues need to contribute to your plot, and anything that does not do the same can be eliminated.
5. Give your protagonist a secret
In some cases, we often remember a dialogue for the information that is withheld. Your audience may not realize the subtle absence of information, but withholding a crucial nugget of knowledge can add to the dynamism of your character.
Giving your protagonist a secret can also contribute to the depth of the plot, creating layers of mystery and intrigue that can deliver an impact on your reader’s mind. This is a key technique for dialogue writing.
Writing a dialogue while keeping in mind the thought processes of your character and the information they wish to share can be beneficial. This will help you think about how the dialogue needs to be rewritten in a manner that contributes to the character’s influence on your story.
This “secret” that your protagonist withholds from the reader can stem from their voice, personality, or the past experiences that shape them. Knowing your character inside out before creating a personality can help you decide what secret can contribute effectively to the story.
- Dialogues are essential to the flow and rhythm of a good story, and creating effective and excellent dialogues is crucial to every writer.
- There is a wide range of functions that dialogues perform. These include adding to the depth of the characters, contributing to the building of the storyline, and more.
- Understanding the best ways to deliver excellent dialogues can help you create meaningful and impactful content that stays with the reader.
- As a writer, you should learn to experiment with different styles of writing dialogues so that your reader stays interested and involved with your story.
- Avoid creating redundant lines that have been used before in your story. This can annoy the reader and distract them from the storyline.
We hope you found this blog informative and helpful. And if you have any questions, drop them in the comments below. You can also get in touch with us!
Q1. What is the purpose of a beat?
Answer – Beats often control the pace of a conversation and also the dialogue between the characters of a story.
Q2. Can I take a course in dialogue writing to improve my skills?
Answer – Yes, there are a number of courses available that can be taken to improve dialogue writing skills. Consider looking at courses offered by Udemy.
Q3. How can I convey technical information easily with dialogues?
Answer – Consider providing technical information to readers in the form of a conversation between an expert and a novice. This will give your audience two sides to the topic, allowing them to understand the technical information being provided, so the conversation won’t sound forced.