How to Write Good Dialogue

Dialogue is tricky to write. If you were to transcribe an actual conversation, you would see a lot of “filler words” as I call them: um, ah, yeah, like, so, etc. An actual conversation would make for extremely poor dialogue. So, how do you write good dialogue? Here are the best three tricks I’ve learned.


1. Do eavesdrop on actual conversations. The best places to do this? Grocery stores, parks, mass transit, malls, bars, etc. There are people talking about fascinating things out there, and lots of it can be transcribed straight into your stories! Take a small notebook and write down anything particularly juicy. Thank you, hung-over girls at the grocery store!

2. Listen to dialogue in movies. Romantic comedies and dramas are actually the best at this witty banter. Plus, there are no pesky explosions to distract you from the actual conversation. Movies are particularly good at this, since there is no inner character introspection to drive the plot forward.  Novel writers actually have an advantage over script writers in that regard.


3. READ YOUR DIALOGUE OUT LOUD. I wrote that in all caps so you would pay attention. This is seriously important. I read every single sentence of dialogue in my novels out loud. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it’s really the only way to catch clunky, bumbling dialogue. For some reason, when you read it silently your brain doesn’t always register it.


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