Play with Your Words! #15: Dialogue Quest

Good dialogue reads like a conversation, but does not mirror conversation. What should you include and what should you leave out?

Take pen and paper, or your laptop, and go somewhere you can eavesdrop on others. (I’ve found a booth in a fast food restaurant can work great.) You might want to go somewhere that the kind of people you write about hang out.

Choose a conversation to listen in on. For ten minutes, write down every word of your selected conversation.

Now go home and select a book that features similar types of characters or settings and flip to a section where you have several pages of dialogue.

Read your transcript of the real conversation.

Read the passage of dialogue in your text.

Now think about them.

  • How are they similar?
  • How are they different?
  • Are there any classes or kinds of words you find in one but not the other?

Based on your analysis and comparison, write yourself a few tips on how to craft realistic dialogue.

Share your tips with each other or as a comment, here, for fellow writers.

Now write a page of dialogue between two characters using your tips.

Have fun playing Harriet the Spy, or 007 if you so desire!

I look forward to hearing from you.