How do I write?: Dialog
For writers, speaking scenes are either the bane of your existence, or the highlight of your day. On one hand, when characters are talking, it can really help further a scene and help with character development….but on the other hand…writing dialog is such a chore….blugh. So here’s some ways to write better dialog in your stories!
Give Your Characters Voices
Is your character southern? Do they have a lisp? Are they shy? Outspoken? Do they use a lot of big words, or are they an easy talker? Are they more likely to lie with confidence, or do they need to pause a lot to collect their thoughts? These are all factors that help build up a character’s profile, and to add realism to your dialog. Make sure to keep each character consistent – example: if Character A is an angry and resolute character, they wouldn’t stammer or blush when they’re caught off guard – so that your characters keep their individuality.
Embrace the Power of Verbs
Obviously, there’s a huge difference between ‘said’ and ‘yelled’ and ‘screamed’, but there are so many fics where ‘mumbled’ is an overused verb. Unless your character is incredibly shy – or loves to whisper insults under their breath – nobody mumbles every other sentence. ‘Quipped’, ‘snarked,’ ‘said indignantly’, ‘joked’, and ‘laughed’ are some of my favorite verbs.
Moving the Scene Through Dialog
If you’re ever terrified of having a scene turn into a monotonous he said/she said conversation, then break it up with actions! Have Character A yell at Character B as they angrily slam the car door, or Character C say “huh?” as they try to clear water out of their ears. Here’s a few examples.
“You look like crap!” Madison tried to touch the side of her
face, but Liz jerked her head back. “Are you like, sick? Your eyes are
all red and puffy.”
“Yeah, just a second.” Jade watched as the bright orange petals swirled down the drain.
Scout visibly recoiled from him. “Uh, no. I’ll pass.”
Talk to Yourself
This is the best trick; it’s what I do when I’m
writing dialog. I’ll put on different voices and talk aloud to myself in order to feel what sounds natural and what sounds plastic-y. You
may feel ridiculous when you’re up at 2am and repeating the same lines over and over again to yourself, but believe me, it will show in the final drafts when your characters are interacting.
Finally, Have Fun
It’s such a cliche tip that it makes me want to cry from boredom, but having fun with your dialog makes it infinitely easier to write. If your inspiration is just bone dry, have your characters get silly with their dialog – “Sir, that really hella dangerous experiment is going critical” “oh dang, lmao, we should probably leave?” “yes most definitely” – because even then, you’re getting your ideas out and you can come back later. Also, it’s hilarious. In the end, writing is supposed to be a fun hobby, so find what works for you and keep on doing it!