I'm writing a story and I'm having trouble with dialogue. I was wondering if you could give me some direction? I'm writing a conversation but the flow keeps getting interrupted by 'she said' and stuff like that, but if I don't put that there I find it doesn't flow well either? Like you can't see who's saying what and all that idk....
hmmm ok it’s a little hard to help with flow without seeing the actual conversation but i’ll do the best i can!!! (also i talked about dialogue before so if you’re struggling with that at all something in this post might help!!)
i’m assuming the conversation’s between more than two people, because that’s when not using ‘x said’ gets the most confusing, and those conversations are definitely more difficult. while those ‘said is dead’ posts kinda suck, i do personally try to limit my use of ‘x said’ whenever possible. instead i talk about body movement and tone of voice if i’m able
example because it’s probably easier to see/read it than to have me just ramble on:
“So what we need to do,” Adrien says, moving the paper clip three centimeters to the left, “is shift the entire second row about fifteen centimeters. That should shift the center of gravity enough for it to balance.”
Alya nods slowly. “Riiiiiggghhhhtttt.”
Nino holds out the tape dispenser. “You do you, man. I mean, you do know what you’re doing, right?”
Adrien shrugs. “I’ve never done this before.”
if you use body movements, you’re specifying the character without having to use ‘x said’. body movement (now that i look at my writing) is usually my go to. it also adds movement to the characters and conversation.
and like i mentioned before, you can also do it with tone and stuff. this is where you get into different words for said. you have to be a bit more careful with these because alternatives to said often change the meaning of the dialogue and can sometimes stick out more than said. generally, i stick to the same words. i think my most common are ‘murmur’, ‘mutter’, ‘whisper’, ‘add’, and ‘grumble’. using too many can make or writing clunky, but using some can help switch up tones and help the conversation not be as choppy as it would be if you were only using ‘x said’:
“And desperately needed brain cells,” Kim whispers to Alix.
Alix snickers as Chloé gives Kim the middle finger.
“We don’t even meet every week,” Mylène points out.
“We don’t even meet every other week,” Juleka mutters. “Just whenever Alya has an idea.”
“And only during lunch,” Nino adds motioning to his bag of chips.
“An idea!” Rose rests her chin in her hands. “Oooooo, Alya do tell!”
Nathanael joins Sabrina and sits on top of a desk. “But what are the chances of it actually working?”
Everyone looks back to Max.
He adjusts his glasses. “Probably higher than when we were leaving them to their own devices.”
“So…” Nino drawls.
you probably noticed i mix the two a lot. that’s something i’d definitely suggest doing too
and finally: read the conversation aloud! if an ‘x said’ sounds weird, try something else. i find that reading dialogue and conversations aloud is super helpful when trying to get them to flow
i’m not sure if this answer was helpful at all, but i hope it was a little bit!! if you have any more questions/something more specific, don’t be afraid to ask!!