Creating solid and effective dialogue in a story can be very tricky; you need it to be clear, you need it to be meaningful, and most importantly, you need it to add something to the story to create depth.
To create effective dialogue, follow some of these simple guidelines:
Follow basic writing and grammar rules. This means that all new dialogue should be indented, new paragraphs should be created with a new speaker, and of course, all dialogue needs to be enclosed in quotation marks.
Play around with physical actions during dialogue to create more realism within your writing. It is rare that two people/characters standstill to speak, so add in some movement or physical comedy to break up long speech lines.
Going along with the idea of long lines of speech, in most cases, it can be helpful to keep the dialogue short and simple. If you try to include too much information in one dialogue passage, it could overwhelm or even bore your reader.
Lastly, good dialogue moves the story along with pertinent information. However, this doesn’t have to be obvious as it often lies right under our noses in most popular stories today.
A lot of things can easily mess up great dialogue; below are some simple things that you should try to avoid in your writing:
Don’t try too hard to make everything true to life. In lots of student writing, you may see filler words being placed in dialogue, such as “um,” to try and make the characters more realistic. However, this tends to fall flat in most cases and can easily confuse the reader.
Don’t overload the dialogue with needless information. Putting lots of information can confuse readers in the first place. However, it gets even more muddled with unimportant information, so just try to keep your dialogue simple and meaningful as a rule of thumb.
Don’t use too many lead-ins to your dialogue. We often can get carried away with writing “he said” or “she exclaimed” with every new line. However, this can easily detract from the true meaning of your writing!
Here’s a basic example of how you could use these basic writing rules to include great dialogue in your writing:
Sarah walked into the room and gasped,
“Oh no! The fishbowl broke; I hope Mr. Bubbles is Ok” She continued to sob uncontrollably. Her sister then walked in and started laughing,
“ Haha, I got you!” Sarah looked dumbfounded, tears still rolling down her face. “I moved Mr. Bubbles to a separate tank to prank you,” Sarah’s sister said, holding up a to-go container with Mr. Bubbles swimming jubilantly.
“ Oh my gosh, don’t ever do that again!” Sarah said firmly, hugging her sister.
In this story, the dialogue clearly shows what the characters are trying to say/mean without giving too much, too little, or too confusing information.
So, to sum up, what should you do to spice up your dialogue? Consider listening to normal speech to model your writing after it. In addition, you could also read your favorite author to see how they write passages of dialogue. While it may seem scary, writing good dialogue isn’t too hard, especially if you put in a little practice!