Welcome to Post #2 of No Edit / No Read (Lots of Dialogue vs. Meaningful Dialogue).

Over the years, writing advice has flip-flopped about the use of dialogue.

A time existed where the pendulum for the mass use of dialogue swung incredibly high. Many insisted that your story required large quantities of dialogue (at least 50%), or it would wallow in dust. The key to hooking the reader was to jump right into the story with dialogue (or within the first couple of pages). It was also said that relaying important information was best accomplished by a character who was in the know, which meant long monologues.

Most writer’s either love or hate writing dialogue. I wouldn’t call my relationship with dialogue “hate”, but old nuggets of advice like the ones above seriously intimidated me. I found it difficult to keep a bunch of character heads yakking it up all the time. I was disillusioned by these ‘requirements’.

Thankfully, the dialogue frenzy has died down.  Don’t get me wrong, dialogue is still important. But, a more strategic approach to the use of dialogue is the call of today.

Why should you use dialogue?

  • Developing your character (behavior, communication style)
  • Giving the reader a better understanding of the character (feelings, motivation)
  • Moving the story forward – i.e., getting the reader closer to the climax or conclusion
  • Revealing a piece of important information through character interaction
  • Increasing tension
  • Setting the scene or mood

So, in other words, you should use dialogue in meaningful ways.

The following is a list of tips for writing effective and believable dialogue:

Do This Don’t
Allow characters speak naturally Waste dialogue on greetings and
Avoid meaningless chit-chat Let a character go on long tirades
Keep it short and to the point Info dump
Give characters individual speaking
Write hard-to-read phonetics
Keep each character’s voice consistent Turn your character into an explainer
Insert body language and actions
while a character talking
Be too obvious, direct, or telling
about a character’s feelings
Avoid character speeches Over use “said”  or other tags or
Read dialogue aloud for authenticity Have characters repeat things already known
Cut out excess words  

I hope this information has been helpful to you in some way.

Until next time, Write On!

Joan 😊

Soft kitty for you.

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