Before writing a scene, play it over in your mind – several times – this helps to get the feel for the characters and the story dialogue. The first few times you play the scene in your mind it should be silent, but gradually, allow the characters to come to life. Visualize them speaking with one another, as well as consider the thoughts that are going on inside their heads. By doing this, when the dialogue emerges characters are talking to one another, not at the other person.
Dialogue writing is the most interesting tool we use to reveal information and reveal character. One of the secrets to convincing story dialogue is that the characters don’t necessarily need to be referring to something important to the story. As an example, a man and a woman meet for the first time in a supermarket and the reader sees they are attracted to one an other– they don’t have to talk about their attraction. Instead, they discuss their loathing of queues and rising milk prices– something they have in common which brings them together. The discussion becomes more compelling as it reveals their identities.
When it comes to story dialogue, we need to express what we are trying to communicate in each particular scene, and then weave it into the action by breaking it into chunks. Think of the way people speak in real life. They never just stand there and speak. They are always moving, touching their hair, folding their arms, raising their eyebrows, or touching their chin as they speak.
A skilful dialogue scene can infer past events, clarify the true nature of a relationship, and reveal what a character has been doing ‘off stage’. If you can really get a character’s tone and characteristics right, at the end of the story your reader should know what your character’s dreams are, their deepest desires, and how they were raised.
What are some things you can do to go about creating realistic dialogue in your story? Start by watching and listening to real people when they speak. Study their actions and characteristics and how they move while they are talking. However, in real life people tend to say the same thing several times over, and in our fictional worlds we want everything to become concise and valuable to the story, so get a taste of how people interact with each other, but reduce it by half.