SPA Girls Podcast – EP79 – How To Write Dazzling Dialogue
Writing dialogue is a very difficult skill to master, but this week we try to unravel some of the secrets around how to create dazzling dialogue for your characters. More than just a transcription of what people actually say, dialogue can be witty, fast paced and give insights into your characters… or it can be stilted, awkward and boring. Which would you rather have? Listen in to this episode for our take on the best ways to create dialogue that will make your manuscript sing! 🙂
Dialogue is more important in the modern romance than it was many years ago. Readers don’t tolerate redundant info dumps like they used too. Having said that, nor do they tolerate long-winded prose. Getting the balance right is not always easy, but it comes the more you write. Take the time to read some of those authors you love, and see how they had perfected it!
Tips for writing good dialogue
-Don’t have dialogue for the sake of it! We don’t need two people talking and saying nothing of importance!
-Keep your dialogue realistic to your characters.
-Get the balance right between readable and readability. We don’t want to hear all the umms and ahhs that take place in a conversation on the page like you would do if you were listening to a conversation in real life.
-Every line of dialogue needs to be there for a reason.
-It’s important not to make the characters all sound the same. Men do sound different to women. Each character also has their own individual way of speaking. We’re not talking about languages, like Scottish, “dinna ken, lassie!” Sometimes this works, but be careful your readers will understand what it is you you’re trying to say. We’re talking about the masculine way of speaking, v the feminine. Old v young. A well-bred aristocrat v someone who speaks using a lot of slang or swearing.
-Don’t info dump! As Shar calls it, the ‘do you know, Bob,’ conversation.
-Dialogue if done right, can increase the pace of your book.
-If there are only the two people in the conversation, you shouldn’t need too many he said, she says.
Avoid purple prose, which is dialogue that is too elaborate or ornate.
Don’t over do it! ‘Even so, beloved Eva! fair star of thy dwelling! Thou art passing away; but they that love thee dearest know it not.'”
Don’t overuse words. “I do not want to go to the supermarket today.” Instead of “I don’t want to go the supermarket today.” Obviously, there are exceptions, like historical romance, but for the most, don’t!
Just because we talked about these, here’s what they are!
-A contraction is a word made by shortening and combining two words. Words like can’t (can + not), don’t (do + not), and I’ve (I + have) are all contractions.
-Ellipses – An ellipsis is a set of three periods ( . . . ) indicating an omission. Each period should have a single space on either side, except when adjacent to a quotation mark, in which case there should be no space.
If only she had . . . Oh, it doesn’t matter now.
-Em dash- The em dash is perhaps the most versatile punctuation mark. Depending on the context, the em dash can take the place of commas, parentheses, or colons—in each case to slightly different effect.
And yet, when the car was finally delivered—nearly three months after it was ordered—she decided she no longer wanted it, leaving the dealer with an oddly equipped car that would be difficult to sell.
-Be careful of parroting. “It is a lovely sunset, John.” “Yes, it is a lovely sunset says, Jill.”
-FYI It’s ok to break the rules, just make sure you are doing it right? Go to your keeper shelf and read the books you love. If they’ve broken the rules, usually it’s for a reason, like sarcasm.
-Dialogue and action work well. “Get out of here now,” he said angrily, or “Get out of here now!” He slammed his hand down on the table. The second sentence has more punch don’t you think?
Dialogue is easy. It’s what you’ve been doing almost every day, most of your life.
– Josip Novakovich