Writing great dialogue is not as simple as it might seem.
There is no great screenplay without good screenwriters. Many screenwriters work for days, weeks and even month to come up with great dialogue. The importance of good dialogue is undeniable.
For authors, it’s the same. You need to take the reader through the journey while showing the most respect to the storyline. Readers have to be so lost in the dialogue that they can literally visualize it happening in front of their eyes.
However, you cannot write dialogue like real life dialogue because you would probably bore the audience. Here are some tips to help you write great dialogue.
Keep the reader’s attention
Your dialogue cannot be realistic most of the time. The storyline always has to leave something to intrigue and excite the reader. You cannot write an unauthentic dialogue, though. It is important to have the reader relate to what you are writing. It truly is a fine line.
If you take real life, for example, something exciting isn’t always happening every single minute of the day. Your characters, on the other hand, are individuals you created with lives so out of the ordinary, yet realistic, the reader cannot stop until they know how it ends.
Read other dialogues
Select a few screenwriters you believe are the best in the industry. Pay attention to their writing styles and how it flows between characters. You do not necessarily need to copy their style, but there is usually a reason for their popularity and success.
Take the lessons and traits they have in common and apply it to your dialogue. Why are their dialogues grabbing the attention of the viewers? How much drama do they portray and how many moments of silence are perfectly set? By learning from the best, there isn’t much you can lose.
Your scene may be set in an environment where slang is used, but it is still important to avoid it as much as possible. Slang language is always going to be dated in the next few years.
Whatever is appropriate in society now may not be understood by the generations to come. You want to write a timeless piece. Something the people of tomorrow can relate to.
Think about it as a dad trying to be cool and communicating with his kids in the slang used when he was that age. It just does not go down well.
Good spelling and grammar
Nothing is more distracting in dialogue than obvious or common spelling errors and grammar mistakes. Take your time to research the correct use of certain words as well as their spelling. Also, make sure your sentences make sense.
Use an online paraphrase tool if you must. The flow of your dialogue needs to keep the reader in the story at all times. An online paraphrase tool is an excellent way to save time and energy when trying to figure out why your flow just does not make sense.
Imagine the scene
Visualize the scene you are trying to create and put yourself in the shoes of the characters. If you could say anything you wanted to say and your life was a movie, what would you say? How would you like the reader to see you? How much of you would you want to expose to the person reading the story?
Keep in mind that nothing is hidden and everything is shared openly. Your thoughts, your desires and your actions are all in play.
Give your characters life
Dialogue is nothing without interesting characters. Think about Bond movies. There have been so many Bond movies because they keep us entertained in every scene. It is exactly what you need to do with your dialogue.
Intrigue and engage your audience and make them believe every word of this out of the ordinary story. The characters need to come to life right before their eyes, and they need to be so in the storyline that they cannot stop until the end.
‘He said’ and ‘She said” is okay
It may seem like you are repeating these words a lot, but this is just part of writing good dialogue. If you are a content writer used to not repeating words too much, you might find it wrong to repeat these words right through the dialogue. Don’t fret, though.
This is just how the dialogue flows and makes sense to the reader. Many readers don’t even recognize these words because they anticipate who is saying what before they get to these confirmations. Our eyes just naturally move over these repeated words.
Dialogue does not communicate chunks of information
The entire storyline cannot be communicated through dialogue. You need to write what your characters say the way real people talk. If there is s scene to be said, you have to do that outside of your dialogue.
You have to trust that your readers understand where the story is and where it is going. It is not necessary to over-explain every detail. If your dialogue is good enough to the point where your audience is into the story, trust me, they know what’s going on.
Don’t refer to names all the time
If Jack and Jill are talking to each other, you don’t have to mention them mentioning each other’s names all the time. If the dialogue is between the two characters, the reader will assume that they are talking to each other.
Write your dialogue the way people naturally speak to one another.
It may seem daunting when you write your first dialogue, but it does not have to give you sleepless nights. Just follow the rules of good dialogue writing, and you should be fine.
Read through a lot of dialogues to get a good feel for the technical side of writing. There is no better teacher than research and practice. Invite the reader into the conversation between individuals and keep them intrigued. If you can get that right, you’re good to go.