Dialogue is an essential part of any story, long or short. Words spoken between characters in our writing is what creates story images in the reader’s mind. As such, it is important to know how to write good dialogue—not just write it, but write it well. Dialogue offers a look into the minds of our characters and that’s what makes those characters stand out to the reader.
Many people mistake dialogue in a story to be “conversation.” They’re wrong. If you’ve ever paid attention to dialogue in a story, you’ll know that the talking between the characters does not sound like a normal conversation. Story dialogue should sound like conversation, but not actually be conversation. Good dialogue will include subtext. It will show interaction between the characters, but will also make the reader consider the things that those characters have not said, thus adding more meaning to the dialogue and making it more effective.
When writing dialogue, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your dialogue sound natural and flow smoothly?
- Does the dialogue fit the personality of the character who is speaking?
- What’s the point of the dialogue?
- Is it easy for readers to distinguish between your characters based on the dialogue you’ve written for them?
Keep these questions handy when writing dialogue. Using them as a stepping stone will help ensure your dialogue comes across as distinct, effective, and fun to read.