A dialogue is a crucial part of any fictional written text: a story, a novel, a screenplay, or a theatrical piece. With some exceptions, a good dialogue is the one you believe in. When characters react in the way the reader (or viewer) would do, the public starts to sympathize heroes. Still, the sudden element is needed here, too. That is why a proper balance between the predictability and unpredictability of a dialogue can turn bad dialogues into good ones. In this article, we’ll find out how to do that.
It is a difficult task: to write a good and natural dialogue. Many screenwriters and just writers offer to start working on dialogues only after all other work is done. In this case, you can just note what happens in a particular scene, what characters talk about and how the dialogue is to be finished. Some authors think that it is possible to write dialogues as you develop the plot itself. But still, them all share the same opinion: you are about to rewrite every dialogue at least couple times. So, it is your call when to start working on them.
Live and Novel Dialogues Differ from Each Other
Of course, a dialogue is to look true, real, just like in regular life. But still it has to lack some moments which happen in reality. People often get confused with what they say, use unnecessary words and even phrases. In a novel or a screenplay, things can go that way as well, but only if that has any certain sense.
Live dialogues can be pointless, while in any writing, every phrase and every word is to make sense.
Reveal Your Characters
Remember, that the reader starts to sympathize your characters when they open themselves. A character can show his or her real face through any deed, or through a dialogue. The real mastery is hidden in the author’s ability to say about the hero in a single phrase than in a long overloaded dialogue. Keep in mind, that readers do not know anything about your characters, and you need to show their thoughts through dialogues. Even if a hero says lie, you can let the reader understand that or to hide that fact till the right moment comes for the truth to be revealed.
Every person has his or her own manner of speaking. They use certain words, strange phrases, think out metaphors, or say everything straight with no hidden sense. So, think carefully about what message you want to send to the reader through words of a character.
Make your Dialogue Simple
Of course, everyone likes complicated dialogues from Tarantino’s movies, but if you watch any of them, you’ll notice all characters to use quite simple phrases. Tarantino works with the viewers so great that they do not even understand how simple the dialogue is, because there is a lot of sense hidden in simple words. So, you need to write dialogues that will be understandable for any reader, but will have a double bottom, too.
Remember about the Context
Best masters of dialogues understood one of the main rules: characters often have to say not what they think; or not to say that directly; or to be tricky about their phrases. This means, there is nothing worse than a direct answer to the question, and then another answer, and then another one. Of course, if your character is Hodor, it will be difficult to make him say any double-digit sentence. In any other case, try to make your character not to say 100% of what he or she thinks.
Your characters feel emotions. That is why there is a certain possible answer in their heads for every previous phrase. Still, they answer that phrase not in the way they have on the mind. Make your heroes play a tiny psychological game.
Read the Dialogue Aloud
You’ll wonder the difference between how a dialogue sounds and how it is written on the paper. It may look perfect, unique and live, but there will be found numerous lacks after you read it aloud. Despite the fact, that this may seem to be a tip for screenwriters (because there will be a movie filmed according to a screenplay), this one will fit for novelists as well, because the dialogue can look perfect as you’ve built it brick after brick. In fact it just turs into a house of cards.
So, read dialogues you write, make corrections. Maybe, you’ll understand certain words to fit the situation better while reading them, or which answer will be more precise and required.
Activate all the Sense Organs of Your Reader
In a dialogue scene, you can pay attention to subjects, objects, or insert phrases that will launch your reader’s or viewer’s imagination or creative thinking. You can describe tastes or smells through your character, to tell about a touch or about any moment of physical pain. Don’t make your reader activate only one sense, look for a balance.
Characters are to Use the Available Space of the Scene
There will appear an unpleasant feeling of fake in the head of your reader, if your characters only communicate during the scene, if the place of an action won’t have any meaning.
When characters are in a dark room, there is a certain dialogue and a certain way to interact with the environment. When they are in a pool or an abandoned building, things go different. Think about what they feel: is it hot or cold? Are they hungry or do they want to drink? This all influences their phrases and their manner of behavior. Let your characters comment things happening in their location, not just talk the way you could move them to another place without any changes in their dialogue.
For many writers, dialogue writing seems to be the most interesting part of the novel or screenplay creation process. And actually, dialogues are interesting because of their emotions and passion, they make you wonder and laugh. But when any inexperienced writer starts composing a dialogue, they can’t do a thing. Characters just refuse to speak.
The point is, you know nothing about characters. You don’t know what they were busy with before the scene started; you don’t know what they want from this particular dialogue and in general. That is why they naturally begin telling each other senseless phrases and the reader gets bored very soon.
Know your characters perfectly, live their lives and then they will start talking on their own when the moment comes, and you will just need to choose phrases for tasks you want to complete.