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The Ultimate Dialogue Series: Part 2!




Use body language

Body language is part of dialogue. Think about a conversation you’ve had recently. What was the topic? Was it a fight? Laughter? Grunting? (wink wink say no more). Bodies are always saying something, by adding in the body language you add subtext to dialogue and make it better!

“It was amazing!” Sally screamed, pounding the table with her fist.

Racquelle crossed her arms over her chest.

“Don’t you believe me?”

“Not really.”

Part of body language is manipulating objects (coffee cup, ring, hair). These manipulations show us how the character is feeling at that moment. Ask yourself what is distracting them from the conversation? What are they doing that they don’t even know about?

Tanisha rubbed her temples with her fingers. “A thousand? It can’t be.”

“Swear to dog,” Tim said, raising his hand in a one finger salute.

Contrast creates dynamic dialogue.

Sameness is boring. Think about good conversations in books, TV, movies. Think about the best scenes, the ones that always stick with you, and you can be sure something is contrasting in the scene.

Contrast can be between

  • two different personalities

    • Analytical vs Humourous

      • “You can be such an ignoramus sometimes.”
        Ted snickered. “You said ‘anus’.”
        “Grow up.”

  • the topic and the setting

    • Mafiosos talking about executions at a children’s play

  • the tone and the setting

    • Boring: Two people talking about coffee at a coffee shop.

      • “Man, I sure love a good cup of coffee in the morning. Makes everything just perfect.”
        “Perfect,” Johnny agreed, tapping his finger.

    • Exciting: Two people talking about coffee at a coffee shop, each has a gun pointed at the other under the table.

      • “Man, I sure love a good cup of coffee in the morning. Makes everything just perfect.”
        “Perfect,” Johnny agreed, tapping his finger.

After reading these examples I’m certain they will stick with you forever. ;)

Use motion to enhance dialogue

One of the big problems I see in writing is people conversing but staying in one place (sitting, standing, etc.). While easier to write, this leads to the dreaded “talking heads” syndrome (more on that later). Try to add motion when you have dialogue. Motion intrigues readers, it means something is going to happen.

  • Not Dynamic: a couple is having an argument in their apartment. Both stand facing each other.

  • Dynamic: A couple has an argument in their apartment. They go room to room, out the door, down the stairs, to the car, in the car, out of the car.

Manipulating objects (like I stated above) can also be considered motion. Just make sure if you repeatedly mention an object someone is manipulating that the object is important to the story.

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