5 Tips for Creating Dialogue That Flows

I haven’t been on the blog for a while.  I received an e-mail from a reader who is having trouble with dialogue, and so I decided to crank out a little tip list for them.

With NaNoWriMo coming soon, keeping these five tips in mind when writing dialogue should help any writer craft meaningful and interesting dialogue.

Here we go.

  1. Stops and Starts – One great thing to do during dialogue is to insert little quirky things that add some character to the scene as well as the banter between characters.  This might be a glass spilled during a dinner conversation, a walking character stubs his/her toe, or a couple of teen boys wolf-whistle at the girl with which the protagonist is enjoying a stroll.  Inserting little bits of real life in the middle of dialogue provides a world-building backdrop for any scene.
  2. Off Topic Rants – Sometimes during real conversations, people go off topic for a bit to talk about something unrelated.  This is often used as a diversionary tactic by one party if the conversation is getting too serious.  I have a good friend who will crack a joke or a pun in the middle of a conversation, usually built off of something I said.  It causes me to take a step back and to realize that I was probably droning on about something or other.
  3. Abrupt Stops – One great tactic I use sometimes is to stop the conversation in the lurch.  This causes the reader to guess what might have been discussed further, but the characters don’t really follow through.  Perhaps you can come back to the conversation, but you don’t have to.  Let the reader guess what the two or three characters would have said if the conversation would have continued.
  4. Arguments Revised – One technique that helps me to get into the mode of conversation and goals of each character in the scene is to write a scene where the characters get in an argument.  I put them in a situation where they will have to argue, and then I let them go at it.  After I’m done, I go back and try to revise it so that there are breaks in the argument or so that the argument is turned into a civil discussion, but I might leave bits of the argument that were emotionally charged.
  5. Infodump Disguise – One thing I try to avoid in my novels is the dreaded info-dump.  This is where I spend paragraphs explaining something or providing long back stories.  This is much better served in a conversation between two or three people, and in this way I can add little character quirks in the conversation.  I can also leave parts out that would be telling too much.
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