Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Writing Tips

Dialogue

Post a reply
User avatar
1226 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Male
Points: 15782
Reviews: 1226
Tue Nov 23, 2004 5:25 pm
View Likes
Firestarter says...



I've never been a good writer of dialogue, I find myself doing okay with description or imagery, but making my character's dialogue believable has always been hard for me. When I write what they say, it sounds....so fictional. It doesn't sound like their actually talking properly.

Anyone got any tips on how to improve this?
How young are you?
How old am I?
Let's count the rings
around my eyes.
--The Replacements

idraax: Europe is weird then. Math should be standardized internationally.




User avatar
401 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 17823
Reviews: 401
Wed Nov 24, 2004 8:57 pm
Nate says...



Dialogue is really hard to do; not least because normal conversations between people sound very unrealistic when transcribed. Watch any debate show, then read its unedited transcript. The debate show makes sense (most of the time...), but the transcript makes absolutely no sense. It all has to do with non-verbal cues.

Anyways, with writing dialogue, the best I can say is to read it aloud to yourself. Frequently if it is not realistic sounding, then you'll pick up on that when reading it out loud. However, avoid using colloquialisms like "dude," "howdy," and "awesome." Frequently they come off sounding very unrealistic.

Also, don't worry if all of your dialogue is like this: "xxxxx" said Maude. That is, if everything has said in it, it won't matter. You should actually avoid anything like, "said Maude sarcastically" or "said Maude sternly." Adverbs detract from the dialogue itself, and, anyways, it doesn't help to state what the tone of the dialogue was since your reader will have already read it once he/she learns what the tone was supposed to be.

In regards to "said," that is one of the best words you can use since it's practically invisible. That is, your readers will not notice if you use "said" after every single piece of dialogue. Words like "replied," "stated," and "answered" are not invisible and thus should be used lightly. Use "said" whenever possible!

But with the dialogue itself, the stuff inside the quotes, the best thing to do is to read and pay attention to how other authors do it. To get the hang of it, you might even consider copying a block of dialogue from a book and fiddling around with it.
Owner, Founder, Site Administrator

YWS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/youngwriterssociety
Twitter: https://twitter.com/yws_gazette
Tumblr: http://ywsgazette.tumblr.com/

Got YWS?




User avatar
1226 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Male
Points: 15782
Reviews: 1226
Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:18 pm
View Likes
Firestarter says...



Anyways, with writing dialogue, the best I can say is to read it aloud to yourself. Frequently if it is not realistic sounding, then you'll pick up on that when reading it out loud.


That's the problem I was referring too. The actual words the characters speak.

Thanks for the tips.
How young are you?
How old am I?
Let's count the rings
around my eyes.
--The Replacements

idraax: Europe is weird then. Math should be standardized internationally.




User avatar
44 Reviews



Gender: None specified
Points: 650
Reviews: 44
Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:20 am
View Likes
WinterGrimm says...



I've heard, and believe, that good dialog is not nessisarily how people talk every day but sort of the highlights of conversations. You sort of create a heightened sense of reality within dialog. People say more interesting things in fiction than they might in real life. I'd say pay attention to good dialog in TV and movies. Some comic books are good too. My personal dialog inspirations are Kevin Smith, and Jos Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and currenly writing Astonishing X-Men). Let me know if that makes sence to you.
That love is suffering is easy to see, for before the love becomes equally balanced on both sides there is no torment greater, since the lover is always in fear that his love may not gain its desire and that he is wasting his efforts.
Andreas Cappelanus, The Art of Courtly Love




User avatar
830 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 19641
Reviews: 830
Fri Dec 03, 2004 10:34 pm
niteowl says...



Think about the personality of the person speaking. Like, does it sound very realistic if the rich guy, the servant, the crazy person, the old lady, the drunk, and the priest all talked the same way? Not that you would have every single one of those in one story, but they shouldn't talk the same way. The servant shouldn't have perfect grammer, and the crazy guy might not make much sense, and the old lady would never use bad words (unless she's crazy too) and the drunk would be all slurred and... You get the picture.

Also, I would have to disagree sort of with what Nate said about not using slang like "dude" or "awesome." If the story's about 21st century teenagers, then it's perfectly okay to use those words cause that'll help make it sound more realistic. But if it's about older people or a different time period, use words that would make sense for that age group or time period.

I need to start taking my own advice.




User avatar
221 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 650
Reviews: 221
Sat Dec 04, 2004 7:49 am
Elelel says...



... I think I understand what WinterGrimm meant about the "use dialogue for important stuff". That's fine, because I wouldn't want to read about a conversation on the weather if it's going to have absolutely no relevence to the plot. BUT charaters need chances to show there personallity and relationships with other characters. If you include that stuff in with "important stuff" than that's good. But it should be, because if "important stuff" only means the basic "villan doing this, goodies must stop him etc" than your story will be boring and unrealistic. Characters clash, and argue, sometimes they agree (but this shouldn't happen too often, as it doesn't count as conflict when they're all happy together) usually, their relationships do have an affect on the plot, so this should be considered. Ok, I'm done lecturing now...
Oh, you're angry! Click your pen.
--Music and Lyrics




User avatar
1226 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Male
Points: 15782
Reviews: 1226
Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:56 am
Firestarter says...



Thanks for all the tips guys....

WinterGrimm>>>That does make sense, I'll try and pick up on some good dialogue in places and take note of how it's done.

niteowl>>>I know what you mean, I can understand all that. I should probably try harder implementing it though...I usually try and do dialogue by my character's personality as well, my main character right now gets very angry and only says what needs to be said.

√Čloer√©>>>Yeh, some slipping in of personality dialogue is usually useful for developing characters, I'll give it a shot! The problem with most of my stories at the moment, is probably the lack of dialogue. I read other stories and they seem full of it, mine is more descriptive.
How young are you?
How old am I?
Let's count the rings
around my eyes.
--The Replacements

idraax: Europe is weird then. Math should be standardized internationally.




User avatar
221 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 650
Reviews: 221
Wed Dec 08, 2004 1:57 am
Elelel says...



Hang on... link
http://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/dial ... kshop.html
and there might be a few other dialogue hints around the site.
Oh, you're angry! Click your pen.
--Music and Lyrics




User avatar
1226 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Male
Points: 15782
Reviews: 1226
Wed Dec 08, 2004 4:23 pm
View Likes
Firestarter says...



Thanks for the link...already had that site bookmarked but didn't think to check. She has a really helpful site!
How young are you?
How old am I?
Let's count the rings
around my eyes.
--The Replacements

idraax: Europe is weird then. Math should be standardized internationally.




User avatar
221 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 650
Reviews: 221
Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:08 am
View Likes
Elelel says...



That site has everything! I'm forever giving out the link...
Oh, you're angry! Click your pen.
--Music and Lyrics




User avatar
1258 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 5850
Reviews: 1258
Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:17 pm
Sam says...



I find it easy to pretend it's me talking...like, what would you say? instead of the formal, "Good day to you, Samantha" (a greeting to me) someone might say, "Hey, Gene" that kind of thing. Or when talking, "Please be quiet, Ashley!" should be something like "yo, shut up, K?" it sounds wierd but it's real life. :D
Graffiti is the most passionate form of literature there is.

- Demetri Martin




User avatar
593 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 6841
Reviews: 593
Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:40 am
Crysi says...



:roll:

So you're a SAMANTHA too, huh? :P

I prefer going by Sam. Until just recently, I didn't like people calling me Sammy.. But I don't really care right now.

Something I do in dialogue (you might not wanna try this until you're more experienced with dialogue) is I have the characters drop hints. Certain words they say will appear later on in the novel, and the way they reacted the first time will give a clue to how they react the next time.. it's confusing lol. But it's fun to write. :twisted:




User avatar
1258 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 5850
Reviews: 1258
Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:06 pm
Sam says...



Me too. I'm a sam...recently it's been Gene, though. :D
Graffiti is the most passionate form of literature there is.

- Demetri Martin




User avatar
593 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 6841
Reviews: 593
Sat Jan 08, 2005 1:17 am
Crysi says...



Well.. I've been George before.. :P And Joey. *cringes*




User avatar
1258 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 5850
Reviews: 1258
Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:23 am
Sam says...



Have you ever been a Traveling Hobo Bob? :D *lol* me and wierd names...
Graffiti is the most passionate form of literature there is.

- Demetri Martin