As writers, we all know that one of the most important elements of our short stories is the dialogue between our characters. Readers can learn a lot about the characters when dialogue is used as a tool.
The following steps are ONE WAY that I use to edit any sections of dialogue in my stories:
- First – ALWAYS – Read your work OUT LOUD! (Even if you have to use the robotic voice in the Review Feature of MS Word!)
- Skip the politeness and perfect English. How many people do you know who really speak that way?
- RESEARCH your character to match their ‘voice’ with their personality, origins, mores, and profession. (What types of words does your character use in everyday conversation?)
- Always be aware of the WHERE of the character? And who are they speaking to?
- Check your language – usually characters (just like people) talk in fragmented sentences, and they’re distracted or interrupted or unsure in the conversation.
- If your style is to use speech tags, are they covered? Have you also used action tags to keep the discussion fluid and visible?
- Ensure that there is CONFLICT. Remember, a story without conflict isn’t exciting to readers.
- Eliminate ‘talking heads’ by using body language, setting, and plenty of scene description.
- EVERY LINE OF DIALOGUE CONTRIBUTES TO THE STORY – no ‘fluff’ allowed.
Sometime during the next few months, I will post a series ALL ABOUT Dialogue!
Until next time,