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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How to Write Believable Dialogue

Dialogue is often hard to write because writers' often wonder how to approach it correctly. If you struggle with dialogue yourself here are some pointers that may help you.

  • Set some time aside every week to practice. Look at conversations from different angles. Have a go at working your next scene around people speaking.

  • Have a conversation with someone and listen to how you speak. It will be unlikely that you will use the correct grammar all of the time. People interrupt each other from time to time and speak in half sentences.

  • Don't use common place dialogue. Always make sure anything your character talks about is relevant to moving the story forward. Having conversations about the weather is uneccessary in the middle of a murder investigation unless there is something significant about the weather that links to the case.

  • Leave certain things out to add an element of mystery to your story. Have one of your characters make it obvious that they are holding something back as this will make them more interesting.

  • Go easy on the use of phonetic speech. It's hard work trying to read pages of text like this.

  • Make sure your readers know who is talking, especially if you have more than two people speaking. Dialogue with multiple speakers can get confusing if all you're going to put is he said/she said.

  • Be careful not to use dialogue all through one page. Break it up in parts by describing other things that are going on. What are your characters doing? It's unlikely they will be standing still throughout the entire time it takes them to speak. '' 'What are you doing, Mary?' John asked as he flipped open his wallet.'' By using lines like these you are helping to create a vital picture in your readers minds. Describe the environment that they are in.
If you do struggle with dialogue I hope you found this post useful. Are there any other points you would like to mention? Maybe you disagree with some of the comments. Whatever it is, please share.


  1. Your suggestions are helpful. Thank you.

  2. This is a great post, Gregg. I've always found it surprizing how many betas I've read with poor dialog. It either sounds bad to the ear or, like you said, there is too much dialog and not enough action. This is hard for many writers.

    Another suggestion I give people is to read out loud, or have someone else read it to them. This way they can "hear" if it does not sound right with a real voice.

  3. OOps... Typo... Gregg sent me to your post. Sorry about that!