Author Topic: How to write great dialogue?  (Read 9897 times)

Offline Rho

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2014, 03:28:24 PM »
Write a list of your characters, and next to them put the name of someone famous or someone you know.

Every time you write dialogue for that character imagine the person you wrote next to their name is speaking.

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Offline Gyppo

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2014, 04:27:34 PM »
I like the idea, but would caution against using anyone you know personally.

This is why.  Sooner or later your character will need to say something which your Uncle Bob, Auntie Jan, or best mate simply wouldn't say.  A mental conflict is set up and your subconscious won't let the character say it.  In the worst possible scenario your character will start to react like the real person as well, instead of how you intended.

This is why spare voices collected in the street and workplace, ('people listening' as well as 'people watching'), can work so well.  The actor Peter Sellers collected accents and voices throughout his life and developed characters from the voice outwards.  Think about that for a few seconds.  It's the sort of thing we writers can so so well.  Take one characteristic and build a whole person around it.

Or take one different characteristic from each of several people and build a jigsaw character, but eventually it will be the bits from your own imagination, gluing the parts and smoothing the ill-fitting edges, which turn that character into a person in whom both you and your readers can believe.

Gyppo
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Offline Magdiel

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2014, 06:12:32 PM »
How did this go from dialogue to character development in general in just two posts?
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Offline Rho

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2014, 06:30:25 PM »
It's not so much character development, but more of putting a character in your mind when writing dialogue.

When I started writing, I wrote blind. Couldn't see any character just knew that it was male or female.

When you have a character in mind, you create dialogue for them.
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2014, 07:02:47 PM »
It's all linked, Magdiel.  Writing is like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces change shape as you assemble them.

Dialogue isn't just about the mechanics of writing down speech and using the appropriate punctuation, even if it sometimes breaks the traditional rules to get the effect you want.  Dialogue stems from the characters themselves.  From the way they think and respond to each other.

In real life people will sometimes just sit and talk about whatever pops into their mind, topics being raised or dropped seemingly at random.  It can be a pleasant way to pass the time with friends.  Written on the page it would be a bloody mess.

In fiction every word, narrative or dialogue, has to earn its keep.  Mainly to move the story forwards, but also to reinforce character.

Gyppo
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Offline Vogel

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #20 on: December 25, 2014, 08:40:20 PM »
If you have dialogue without character development, then all you have is the author's voice, right? You have to consider your characters' traits, their wants, motives and all that before you know how they (not you) would respond to or lead a conversation. So yes, what Gyppo said.


Offline Vogel

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Re: How to write great dialogue?
« Reply #21 on: December 25, 2014, 08:42:23 PM »
The best advice on dialogue I've come across is to make each conversation a contest - have each character aiming to get something different out of their exchange. Like two people taking a walk together, but each having a different destination in mind. The character's desired outcomes needn't be dramatically opposed, just offset enough to introduce some tension to the conversation.

BTW, I liked this. I'm going to have to apply that to my own writing.