How to create dialogue that flows?
Isn’t this a question all writers struggle with at some point in their career? Are you worried that your protagonist sounds too wooden? Me too. I’ve been there, done that.
So how do we overcome those awkward moments?
My best advice is to write how you speak. To heck with your auto correct. Overlook all of those annoying green squiggly lines in your manuscript. If you’re computer editor is happy then ya ain’t talkin’ right.
Speak your sentence out loud once you’ve written it. If you struggle to sound it out then so will your readers.
Less is definitely more. Get to the point without taking a dozen pitstops along the way. Don’t word dribble.
All dialogue needs to push your plot forward. This is a hard one to recognize sometimes when you are writing. That’s what re-writes and edits are for. Cut out the fluff.
One tip that I’ve read, and I’m not sure that I entirely agree with, is to use “he/she said” instead of “he screamed” or “he laughed.” Personally I prefer to not read “he said,” “he said,” “he said,” over and over again. I say do both. Add a smattering of each and see how it flows.
When you are writing your dialogue think about where your characters are. Are they sitting in a rowdy bar? Alone in a car? Racing through traffic? Lazing on the back deck with a cool lemonade in their hands? Remember body language. Where are they positioned? What is their posture? Are they doing anything or just sitting? All of these things are key to creating the right tone for their dialogue.
If you are on the run with a sniper capturing you in his target then you’re probably gonna be pretty frantic in how you speak. But you wouldn’t write the same way if you had a couple whispering in a library. Be aware of the content you’ve already created. Make it logical.
Avoid adding dialects. This can sometimes be confusing to your readers. If you really must have one for the essence of your book then try to limit it’s content.
Hit the mall. What better place to hear a WIDE variety of language than in a packed mall during the holiday season?
Avoid crazy punctuations. Have you ever been on Facebook and saw people write something like this: “Went to see ….movie. It was awesome!!!!!!!!” Yep. I’ve seen it to. Or how about the ?!!! Honestly, what does that mean?
When you’re writing a novel, use action to portray an exclamation. Don’t make our eyes go cross trying to count the !!!!!
If you still struggle to write dialogue that feels natural you might want to try using some sort of recording device. Perhaps a program on your computer that interprets your spoken word into written word. Or purchase a hand held recorder and carry it with you.
Creating dialogue that flows doesn’t always come over night. Practice, let your inner editor shut off and just chat to the mirror. I know, it’s probably gonna feel weird, but it does help.