Writing Realistic Dialogue
Meghan bit her lip. “Are you sure it’s folklore?” The other girl shrugged. “I mean, Lunar’s seem pretty religious, but…” the girl’s eyes widened as she took in Meghan. “Are you Lunar too? I’m so sorry, I just assumed, but like, I shouldn’t assume!” Meghan laughed, putting the Earthen girl at ease. “I’m not Lunar by birth, no. But I’ve lived here my entire life. You can call me Meghan,” she put a hand out and the Earthen gave it a friendly shake. “Terry. It’s nice to meet you.”
One of the many things that takes a little time and effort to master? Dialogue. It’s a simple enough concept, but when done right, your reader is able to fully immerse themselves into the tale of your swashbuckling heroine and her steadfast sidekick. When dialogue is written poorly however, the entire piece can scream ‘amateur’ and you’ve lost your audience before you’ve got the chance to introduce them to the sea monster in chapter two!
Why is it that something so mundane can make or break your story? Dialogue is simply communication. Whether or not the interacting characters are speaking of important or relevant concerns, what’s said and what’s not said advances (or enhances) the plot and delivers information to the reader. It gives your story credibility and makes your characters more human. Huzzah! These fictional people are now relatable and look, we’re now extremely invested in their adventure!
So, how does one go about writing realistic dialogue? You might assume that you just have to keep working at it, writing forever until boom, your heroine no longer reads as if she has no personality despite fighting for her life against the monster in chapter two. Before you even think about cranking out another sentence, let me share the best advice I’ve ever been given: listen to the people around you, and take notes. As you go about your day and pass people at the bus stop, waiting in line at Starbucks, or before your night class starts, take a moment and truly listen. You’d be amazed at how much you can learn about people from a small snippet of their conversation, like their relationship to the person they’re conversing with or even their current mood!
Also be certain to take into account your target audience. Getting a little research in on how they talk and the mannerisms they have while communicating. A little time invested goes a long way to making your dialogue feel natural and alive.
While the notes you take don’t have to be physical ones, you’re more likely to remember if you jot them down in a notebook or in your phone. Writing is a craft, and dialogue is one of the many tools that help sharpen this craft.
-Rouge Robin: “Go forth, seek all, and conquer it!”
-Silver the Bard: “If you haven’t heard from me, assume I’m dead and avenge me.”