How To Write Engaging Dialogue

When creating characters, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine how they should speak to each other, how to set it out, and most importantly how to keep the reader engaged. The following tips can assist you when writing dialogue for your story or novel.
  • One sure fire way to create a scene and allow the characters to engage in dialogue is to have them tangled up in a disagreement. If you can master the art of building up friction in the dialogue (short snappy responses, change of tone) it is more likely to help carry the scene instead of just fill it.
  • Try not to allow your characters to talk similar to each other. I once read a book where the main protagonist had a cheeky side, and went around saying things like 'hey baby.' Then, when another male character was introduced, he similarly called everyone 'babe.' It was very disconcerting and didn't really give each character their own distinctive voice
  • Grab a friend and try the dialogue out with them, as though you are reading a screenplay. What looks well written on paper may not flow as well when being read aloud.
  • Make the dialogue natural, as though the characters are actually speaking to each other. What I mean by this is don't put in dialogue just to keep the reader happy. The conversation won't seem natural, and if it's for the readers benefit then you won't appear to be confident in the way you have portrayed the information so far. If you're not sure if it will work better as description or dialogue, try both and get someone else to read it and give their input.  
  • Letting the reader know an intriguing titbit about a character can open up a host of dialogue opportunities to explore. Is your character sarcastic, provoking witty responses? Maybe he does this to deflect attention away from himself? Is the reason he does this revealed by another character during dialogue, explaining he is quite introverted after a bad trauma? 
  • Show, don't tell. You hear this a lot in writing, and it's probably one of the most valuable pieces that a writer should hold on to. A reader doesn't like to be told what is happening. They like to feel as if the are there. This ties in to bullet point number four. How about switching description to dialogue for instance? Below is just a quick example of what it could be, 


   The jacket was stained with spaghetti sauce from the night before, but it had dried crusty, like old blood.


   'What the hell is that on your shirt?' said Jones.


   'There on the collar! Is that what I think it is?' Jack looked down so hard it caused a double chin.

   'If you think it's spaghetti sauce, you'd be right.'


   'What did you think it was?'

   'Blood. I thought you had committed murder and left behind the evidence' Jones laughed.


If you have any additional tips about dialogue in your novel or story, leave us a comment below.


Leave a comment