Dialogue like the series of events in a story should advance your story, reveal character traits as well as keep the story pace. You should know how to write your story dialogue to achieve this aim. The purpose of this post is to share with you how to write a dialogue that sparkles. Before that, I want you to understand it is good to master conversation skills but wrong to apply how people talk in real life to your story dialogue. You will learn why and how as we go on.
What are the things you should avoid while writing your story dialogue?
– Stay away from telling whenever you can
Show not tell may sound cliché but it’s still one of the keys to writing a great story. In real life dialogue, people tell what they feel. You hear things like, ‘I’m so excited,’ I’m sad,’ ‘I’m glad, and so on. This is normal in the real world because that’s how real people talk. But when writing your story dialogue, you need to pay attention to what people do while they say what they say and describe it. You don’t need your character to say how they feel except you must include it alongside the description.
If your character says, ‘I’m happy, there should be sparkling of the eyes and the corners of the mouth drawn back, or even teary eyes when the happiness overwhelms.
– Know how people of the era or place in your story talk.
If your story takes place in a different era or place, do not assume how the people talk. Your dialogue must show off the talking style, Otherwise, your story loses its quality. If you are not sure, find out from those who know it well. Make a thorough research, watch movies if possible, ask questions, this will help you to avoid a plain or assumed version of the language. You must not write it if you are not sure of it.
– Keep your dialogue tag functional
Some writers use description in their dialogue tag to replace a boring “he said” “she said” tag. Do not do that. Dialogue tag in itself shouldn’t be descriptive. Its function is to let the reader know who is saying what. When you use tags like, “she shouted,”, “he roared out”, she screeched,”, you make the reader stop and think about them and that’s distracting.
Instead of using descriptive tags, show or describe the character’s action or body language at that time. Look a close look at the dialogue from Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
‘Train station? Arinze and I are not leaving until tomorrow, Mohammed,’ Olanna said. She almost ran to keep up with him. ‘I’m going back to my uncle’s house in Sabon Gari.’ ‘
‘Olanna,’ Mohammed started the car; it jerked as he took off. Sabon Gari is not safe.’
‘What do you mean?’ She tugged at the scarf; the embroidery at the edges felt coarse and uncomfortable against her neck.
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