Believable Dialogue

Dialogue can make or break a book. There are so many rules to this part of writing, but right now we’re only going to concentrate on two…

First, your dialogue should always be natural

Second, dialogue is not the place to dump information.

What does this mean?

Your characters’ dialogue should be natural to who they are as a person. Don’t have someone you’ve described as uneducated spouting out erudite words that nobody understands. Don’t let any of your characters go on and on, describing in great detail what can be left to narrative. Keep dialogue short and sweet in most instances.

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to have dialogue that goes for one paragraph to another. But don’t go on and on, so the reader is soon lost as to who is speaking and what brought about this speech. Break up that dialogue with narrative that keeps the reader interested.

One other thing I’ve noticed about dialogue lately is that it’s being used to describe characters or locations. Those are best left to narrative. It is not natural to have someone describe a house from the outside to each interior room in excruciating detail. Nor do people talk about others they know by saying “She has gorgeous blonde hair that flows down her back in ripples. Her gray eyes are so mesmerizing that you can get lost in them. She’s short, a mere five foot four, and slender—so slender that you can practically see her ribs.”

Does that sound natural? Have you ever actually heard anyone in real life talk like this?

Your answer should be no to both questions.

Remember this, dialogue should be used to move the action along. It’s not for getting information to the reader nor is it a place to get long winded.