The Ultimate Dialogue Series: Part 4!
Don’t be afraid to try out new rhythm, tones, accents.
Variety is not only the spice of life, it’s also a magazine thingy. I have no idea what that has to do with anything but it breaks up the monotony. Anyhoo.
Try new things with how your characters speak. Stereotypical Irish accent? Throw it in there (just make sure to take it out after because stereotyping is baaaaaad). No one says you have to be writing Nobel prize winning dialogue every second of every day, so have fun with it. Experiment.
Does your character
Use contractions (informal)
NOT use contractions (formal)
Rhyme? Mumble? Lisp? Monotone? Whine?
Try and you will surprise yourself at how well you can bring your characters out onto the page.
Keep dialogue tags simple and transparent. The reader shouldn’t notice them.
Limit your tags to simple ones: Said, asked, yelled, screamed, replied, answered.
Using words like effused, gushed, extolled, make the reader have to think way too hard. So give them a break.
**Okay**, this is one piece of advice I read all the time and I say take it with a grain of salt (I’m sure Google could tell me what that turn of phrase means but I’m much too lazy to look).
Certain genres and writing styles can get away with different, diverse tags, Middle Grade for example.
These genres often need to build a way of speaking, of thinking, and the easiest is through dialogue tags. Yet, even in those it’s often best to limit the exotic tags in favour of the simple.
Don’t be afraid to use silence.
If you have no idea what to write for dialogue, try writing nothing.
Jimbo: “We will now commence the ritual which will take these acurse-ed birds and cast them into the fiery deep fryer from whence they should have came. Can I get an Ah-men, Betty?”
Jimbo: :”Can I get an Ah-men, Daquan?”
Jimbo: “Can I get an Ah-men, Jesus?”
Jimbo: “Can I get an Ah-men, JESUS?”
Jimbo: “CAN I GET AN AH-MEN, JESUS?”
So, I’m going to let y’all in on a little tip. You might notice that sometimes I don’t use the full writing format, just Character: “Says something”. This is a technique from my comic book writing foundation. If I really get stuck on dialogue, I’ll use that. It’s easy, fun, and fast. From that I can see if I’m repeating myself, if the characters seem real enough, how it flows.
Try it and see!
Remember that task I set you to do, the one about writing a conversation between two characters about religion?
Now, I’d like you to do another writing exercise. Take five minutes and write a dialogue scene.
Two people talking about gummy worms.
Set a timer. Ready? Set. Go!
Compare the two samples and you will be surprised how a topic as powerful as religion can seem so boring while a conversation about gummy worms can be exciting.
And that’s it! Go forth and multiply your words!