By: Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
Whenever I critique manuscripts or judge for contests, I always pay particular attention dialogue techniques. Dialogue can say a lot about the skill and maturity level of a writer. In fact, really good dialogue can draw me into a story faster than anything else.
As I thought about the kinds of things I like to see in
dialogue (and as a
reminder to myself of how to write my own dialogue), I came up with seven
dialogue basics. They’re NOT hard, fast rules, but more like good principles we
can apply in order to tighten our stories.
1. Don’t over-address characters in the dialogue.
Over-addressing people makes
dialog sound stilted.
“Mother, won’t you please pass me the salt.”
“Oh, thank you, Mother.”
“Mother, you’re such a dear. I just couldn’t live without you, Mother.”
We don’t constantly address people in real life. And in our dialogue we need to be careful with how often our characters use each other’s names. Sometimes I throw in a name for dramatic effect or so that I can clarify to whom the person is speaking. But usually during editing I eliminate most (not all!) the names within
dialogue that aren’t absolutely needed.
2. Don’t forget to use contractions…
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