Some authors seem to have a problem with the dialogue in their script. I can’t say why that is, as I never experienced dialogue problems before.
While reading some books I noticed the dialogue seemed forced and stilted. In some instances, the dialogue is bland as though the author wasn’t certain what she wanted the characters to say.
As I mentioned, I don’t know why some authors’ dialogue lack the oomph it needs, but here are some questions that if answered, may provide some answers.
Q: Does the story flow smoothly in your head from start to finish?
A: It should. If it doesn’t, then you may find that you have problems moving the story along. When you get a story idea, trying playing out the story in your head. How does it start? What happens in the middle and what is the outcome? Having all that figured out will help to make your dialogue flow because you already know what you want in your story.
Q: Are there glitches in your story for which you have a problem smoothing out?
A: There are times you are stuck or something seems off in your story. Find out what caused these glitches and fix them. Are there inconsistences? Do you need to do some research to verify information? Although you are writing fiction, the elements of most stories are fact. Unless you are writing High Fantasy or Intergalactic Sci-Fi, then your readers will expect that the setting be real along with the other elements. Readers of crime thrillers and mysteries are especially picky when it comes to police procedural and other elements relating to the law. Be careful with this. Do the research and your dialogue will benefit.
Q: Is each scene in your story necessary OR does each scene drive the story forward?
A: Make sure you don’t add a scene just because you need to add word count. Every scene should be necessary to the character and plot development. If this is the case, then make sure the dialogue is the same.
Q: Why are your characters conversing?
A: Are you characters talking because there is nothing to do, or are they talking because they have something important to say? The answer should be because they have something of value to add to the story, whether it’s saying ‘hi’ to another character or just babbling about the dead fish. It should add value to the plot. Are they expressing themselves because of a past or future event in the story? The answer should be yes. Are they conversing as a means to reveal information? Yes again.
Q: Is the dialogue a part of the story development?
A: It should be, whether it’s introducing another character, another element/event or as mentioned above, revealing relevant information. Information could simply mean a character’s feeling about a matter, what they think, information about a case or another character.
Q: Does the dialogue help to develop any of the characters in the scene or story in general?
A: The above Q & A should already do this, but just in case you are still uncertain, look again at your dialogue and ask yourself this question.
Q: What caused the conversation? Meaning, what event led to these characters talking?
A: Something should happen or will happen that lead to a conversation. The conversation should not come out of thin air, or fall off the cliff. The conversation should stick with the reader and give the reader the urge to move forward.
Q: What do you want to tell your readers through this dialogue scene?
A: This is of utmost importance. You must have a reason to add the dialogue. You must have a story to tell the reader. What do you want to say through your characters?
After answering these questions, you should have a better idea about what may be wrong with your dialogue. I am sure there are other questions that could be asked, however, these are the questions that came to mind.
Note: I am no expert. I am just an author with experience who prefer to show my story through dialogue.
I love showing my character’s character through voice and body language. My dialogue usually tells a few things.
- Show you the emotions of the characters involved which helps in their development.
- My dialogue is an essential part of the story development in that it reveals elements of the story that I would otherwise have to reveal in narration/description.
- It expresses the connection between the characters involved in the story; whether it’s love, friendship, kinship or enmity.
- My dialogue usually moves the story along, bring in new information and reveal the secrets that were left behind.
The dialogue should give the reader a sense of reveal. The reader should know more about the characters and the story after every dialogue scene. If a reader skips the dialogue, then it means it was not necessary and can be omitted.
The reader should find answers within the dialogue, which would make them hang on to every word. One scene should transition to another seamlessly, moving action and dialogue along smoothly.
Dialogue scenes should not necessarily be long scenes, but they should add depth, moving the story forward.
I hope this article helped you today.