“Well, I, um, used to have a dog but, um, he ran away. And then, well, I got a cat and – sneeze – I found out that, you see, I’m allergic.”
Dialogue is a powerful tool in writing. It should mirror a real conversation but not verbatim. Writing tight dialogue requires you to edit out the “ums” and eliminate the scattered thoughts.
A cleverly written piece of dialogue between your characters can add deep substance to your story. Good conversation will breathe life into your characters. And readers will be able to understand the way your characters feel, think and hear.
Ready to tackle the art of writing witty dialogue? Use the following DOs and DON’Ts as a guide.
DON’T end every sentence with “he said.” For example, don’t write:
“What are you saying?” Mary said.
“Our marriage is a sham,” Joe said.
“I don’t believe you,” Mary said.
It’s unnecessary. Good dialogue toggles back-and-forth without you having to constantly remind the reader who’s speaking.
And DON’T try to fool the reader with the following either:
“What are you saying, Joe?”
“Our marriage is a sham, Mary.”
“I don’t believe you, Joe.”
How many conversations have you carried where you’re continually reminding the person of their name?
One thing you have to remember as a writer is that you’re invisible. DON’T try to use your dialogue to tell the story. It’s cheating.
“Well, Carly. As you know, I’m a reporter for our local newspaper. And when you worked there, you suggested I would be perfect for that type of job. Remember?”
Cheater! Cheater! Cheater!
Again, you don’t hear people talking like this in everyday life. If you’re going to drop information into your dialogue, at least make it sound natural. DO write:
“Just great. I’m reporting at your old newspaper.”
“Congratulations! I always knew you’d be great at that.”
Exposing your scene slowly and naturally adds realism.