After the entries about the different forms of dialogue and the functions they have in history , finally the third installment of this topic to talk about the keys to writing a good dialogue.

Dialogue

If we listen to a real conversation and try to put it on paper, we quickly realize that this dialogue does not work at the narrative level. Real conversations are full of interruptions, unfinished sentences, and inconsistencies. The key is to maintain that verisimilitude of a real conversation, although without so many hiccups. But how do we do it?


01. Know your character

It is essential to give a character a voice to know as much as possible about him. His personality, origin, age, education, profession, time in which he lives ... These are data that will give us the necessary clues to understand how he has to speak.

Of course, beware of dialects or defects in the diction of the characters, because it can tire the reader to find pages full of misspelled phrases or difficult to decipher.


02. Play your role

When you have to dialogue, try to put yourself in the shoes of the characters, interpret their performance. Do it out loud, don't be shy (that's why, for years, I've only been able to write privately).

By becoming the actor of your own plays and performing them as you write, not only will it be easier for you to create dialogue that works, but you will even discover the gestures and actions that the dialogue is asking of you.


03. Dynamism

In general, use short sentences, omit the verbs in some cases, be concise, dynamic, don't miss a beat and the dialogue will flow better. This does not mean that you cannot add longer or more complex dialogue interventions, but it better not be the usual tonic.

Let's take as an example a fragment of the dialogue:

Do not panic.
"I'm not scared!"
If these.
"Okay, I'm scared, what else can I do?"
"Nothing but come with me and have a good time." The Galaxy is a very fun place. You will need this fish in your ear.


04. Don't explain, move on

Don't use dialogue to explain what the action should have meant. The bad guy who exposes his diabolical plan to the hero point by point only works in parodies. If you have to explain the whole story to a reader at the end for it to be understood, you may have to revise it.

Also, don't use dialogue to say things that all the characters in the dialogue already know or that no one has asked. Always ask yourself if the phrase spoken in each dialogue makes sense, if someone could actually pronounce it.

As an example, taking a fragment of the dialogue by Douglas Adams, it is clear that this is not the same ...:

"Unfortunately, I've stayed on the ground for much longer than I intended," Ford said. I went for a week and stayed fifteen years. So far a bore took me, one of those rich kids with nothing to do and who go around looking for planets that have not yet made interstellar contact to announce their arrival. First they look for an isolated place where there are not many people, they land next to some poor innocent guy who nobody will ever believe, and then they strut in front of him wearing stupid antennas on their heads and doing beep! Beep! beep! It really is a very childish thing.


… Than this other:


"Unfortunately, I've stayed on the ground for much longer than I intended," Ford said. I went for a week and stayed for fifteen years.

"But how did you end up there?"

"Easy, I took a heavy load."

"A heavy?"

-Yes.

-And what is…?

"A heavy?" Heavy people are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They go around, looking for planets that have not yet made interstellar contact and announce their arrival.

"Do they announce your arrival?" Arthur began to suspect that Ford enjoyed making his life miserable.

"Yes," said Ford, "they announce your arrival." They look for an isolated place where there are not many people, they land next to some poor little innocent that nobody will ever believe, and then they strut in front of him wearing stupid antennas on their heads and doing beep! Beep! Beep ! It really is a very childish thing.


05. Interrupt from time to time

Also taking the previous dialogue as an example, a good way to make the dialogue credible and give it rhythm is through interruptions. Add cuts, questions and comments to make the conversation more fluid.


06. Annoy them, make them doubt

The characters have to live through dialogue, show their moods, change their minds, be happy, doubt, get angry or piss off. Again, interpret and notice how he has to say it, how the character feels when he says that phrase. This way you will discover what words to use and how to say them.


07. Make it matter

Like any other element of the narrative, when there is a dialogue it should be because it is the best way to tell that fragment, because there has to be. So, if you write a dialogue, try to make it for something, because it makes the story evolve, because at least one of the characters changes their mood, because things will happen while they talk.

In Douglas Adams' dialogue in the example in the previous post, Arthur goes through different moods. First he is in shock, he does not quite assimilate that the Earth has disappeared. Then he gets angry, scared, and finally resigns himself.


08. Break it down with action

Do not forget that, while we speak, we do not usually stand still. While we speak, things also happen and sometimes stopping the dialogue to explain what is happening also brings realism to the scene, in addition to helping us move it forward.


09. Don't go overboard with the "said"

This type of annotations should be noticed as little as possible. On this point I wrote a long time ago a post called the narrator in the dialogues , where I explain in more detail how to use the annotations while the characters speak.


10. Read

As in all narrative techniques, the best way to learn is by writing and reading. Watching how teachers do it is essential to improve our writing.

When you read a novel or short story and find a dialogue that works well, underline it, photocopy it, write it down or mark it in some way. Then go back on it and crumble it until you understand its mechanism. Few things will help you more than this.

What do you think? Would you add any other key? What are your tricks or systems for creating dialogues?

Axact

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