Writing dialogue is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. If done well, using dialogue can strengthen your manuscript and turn an average story into an engaging ride people will be talking about long after they read it.
Here are 3 examples of how your story benefits from good dialogue.
Dialogue puts you into the action
I love starting my chapters off with dialogue because it helps get out of the need to introduce everything, but instead drops your reader into a specific moment. If you’re stuck on how to get your characters into a certain conversation, just begin a scene with the conversation and work from there.
Dialogue establishes character dynamics
When writing dialogue, you not only get to write what people say, but you also get to include dialect, body language, and how characters think and feel about each other. All of which are opportunities for you to give your characters depth in each conversation.
Dialogue advances the plot
Conversations are necessary to inform the reader on motivation and a means to get to the next step of the plot. If you have a limited narrator, you also need to hear from your other characters in order to get an idea of what they’re thinking. Advancements include: getting a significant question answered, interviewing a character in a mystery, or encouraging a different direction or goal.
Warning! It’s easy to write poor dialogue, so here are a few tips on how to avoid common mistakes.
Don’t overuse dialogue tags (said, told, replied, exclaimed, etc)
If you have more than 2 people talking, make sure your reader knows when you switch to a new speaker while also following tip number 1.
Drop and indent each time a character speaks. This structure makes it easy for the reader to follow along.
Read your dialogue to make sure your characters have a unique voice and that it sounds natural. Writing conversations don’t need perfect grammar.
Get to know your characters, drive your story, and have fun with it!
Do you find it easy or difficult to write dialogue? Let us know!
Don’t forget to check out Write2Ignite’s masterclass with Joyce Moyer Hostetter where you can learn even more about dialogue and other writing essentials. Click here to learn more.
Leah Jordan Meahl writes to encourage both the rooted and the wandering Christian to go deeper. She’s a born and bred Jesus-follower hailing from Greenville, South Carolina. She’s a lover of devotional writing as well as fiction. Her newest book Pebbles: 31 days of faith enriching parables is set to release August 2020. Feel free to visit her blog. And ‘like’ her on Facebook.
2 thoughts on “How Dialogue Strengthens Your Manuscript”
Great advice, Leah! Thanks!
I’ve been told I write good dialog. Which makes me happy because I work to do that.
Even picture books need dialog. I can’t tell you how many editing clients I have who write a whole picture book manuscript without a single line of dialog. Makes me wonder if they’ve even read a picture book.
Thanks, Pam. I agree!!