This is the final post in this project in which I prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April *sad face*. I really enjoyed this project, I loved writing posts and the guest posts were just amazing. I just want to send out a huge thank you to Hannah, Trisha, Claudie, Savannah, Blaise and Tiana for helping me out and giving such good advice!
The fact that this is the last week also makes me slightly stressed because my preparations have been standing still for a week or so. I still need to work on my characters and elaborate my plot (3 words for one chapter is not enough outlining!).
The last topic I’d like to cover is dialogue, which is incredibly important for a book and its characters. For example, I like characters much more if they have a distinct voice. So here are some tips.
Know your characters. One tip that I really think is useful is from How to Write Convincing Dialogue. Think about how your best friend or mother or significant other would respond to a certain situation, this is quite easy if you know the person well enough. I can almost hear my friend talking to me in my head. And if you know your characters well enough, writing dialogue becomes almost as easy.
What is important when you want to find your character’s voice is to know what they know and who they are.
- Are they intelligent? This affects the way in which a person speaks, they might have more elaborate arguments, fact-check their arguments, be a little more conservative with their opinions and so on. Their choice of words might also be different, they might use more difficult words to express themselves.
- Are they extroverted or introverted? Introverts might speak less, but when they speak they often really know what they are talking about. My introverted self always stays in the background when having conversations, because I only want to “add” something valuable to the conversation. I don’t like talking for the sake of talking. I think many introverts are the same, so this is something to keep in mind.
- Do they have an accent or are from abroad? This affects intonation and also their choice of words, they might not use words that don’t exist in their first language.
- Do they use metaphors or references? In our modern world, it is quite usual to use references to modern media and characters from books, movies or series. So what you need to figure out is what are their interests? And if the person is a little dreamy, they might describe something more often with metaphors than others.
- Are they sassy? Sarcastic? Witty? Positive? Negative?
- And so on.
Some practical tips:
- First write the dialogue and then the narrative. This makes it easier to see if the dialogue flows or not and removes the distraction of the narrative.
- Mumble the dialogue to yourself.
- Use body language to describe the way in which characters act. Body language is a surprisingly large part of communicating, so use that to your advantage. Just a simple frown might be way more useful and feel more natural than a sentence about how a person doesn’t believe what the other person says.
- Don’t overdo it. Not everything has to be said, and repetition is not fun to read.
- Make sure that the conversation adds something to the story. Oh, how often I read a dialogue in a book and then think: wait, what was the point of that?
- Remove the obvious and unnecessary. It’s not fun to read a conversation that goes like this: Hi – Hi! – How are you? – I’m fine, how are you? – Good, good, a little busy. (and so on).
- Give it a little flair! Make sure the characters express their own voice. Don’t let them say things they wouldn’t say. All of this comes back to knowing your characters well enough.
- Don’t add too much subtext. I personally hate to read dialogues that are continuously disrupted by long descriptions of what a person does or what the surroundings look like.
I hope you enjoyed this project! I loved working on it. I might continue with a different but similar project in the future, so if you’ve got ideas or topics you’d like to read about, let me know.
What is your best tip on writing dialogue?