Dialogue – you might say I’m addicted to it. I’ll put more dialog in my book than internal thoughts and setting put together. Why? Because I believe ‘no one waits for the story to begin,’ and dialog gets a story going.
Dialog is more than just speaking . . . it’s character, plot, and setting. You might ask, what? Here are a few starters from James Scott Bell, author of Circumstantial Evidence, Final Witness and Blind Justice:
· Who is saying this?
· What does this character look like?
· What is this character’s occupation?
· Why would he/she say such a thing?
· What is the dominant emotion this character is expressing?
· What just happened to cause this character to say the line?
· Who did he/she say the line to?
· Does this other character oppose the first character for some reason? What is it?
· What are the objectives of the characters in this scene?
· Where is this dialogue taking place?
· What are the smells?
· What are the sounds?
· What does the character see around him/her?
· Why is he/she in this place at this time?
· What does this setting tell us about the background of the character?
If you go through questions like this (and you can certainly add your own), you’ll have a nice core of material to work with. It may be that this is as far as you go. The story you see may not be one you’re interested in exploring further. That’s fine. Go find another line and do the exercise again.
Write reams of dialogue. The best way to get good ideas is to get tons of them and then choose the best and throw the rest out.
These tips are excerpted from the lecture materials for the Writing Effective Dialogue course offered by WritersOnlineWorkshops.