Dialogue is important in storytelling. It’s what moves the plot along, allows characters to reveal themselves, and provides readers with insights into the story world. But it can also be your worst enemy if not done well. Bad dialogue can kill a short story by slowing down the narrative, muddling the plot, and making your characters seem two-dimensional and flat. So how can you make sure your dialogue is effective? Let’s take a look.
Good dialogue can help your reader understand your characters and their motivations. It can also move the plot forward and keep the story interesting. Here are a few tips to help you write effective dialogue:
Use dialogue to reveal character.
Your characters should sound unique, and their dialogue should give readers a sense of who they are. What kind of language do they use? How do they speak to different people? What are their speech patterns like?
Pay attention to punctuation in your creative writing
Punctuating dialogue correctly is crucial in order for it to be effective. Make sure you use quotation marks, commas, and other punctuation marks correctly.
Keep your dialogue authentic
Your dialogue should be natural and realistic – your characters should say things that a normal person would say in real life. Read it out loud to see how it sounds and make sure it flows smoothly. Obviously, there are other factors to bear in mind regarding this rule, such as different dialects or if you are writing characters from history as they may speak differently to people of today.
Edit your creative writing ruthlessly
As with all writing, editing is essential. Read your dialogue aloud again and listen for any awkward phrases or choppy sentence structure. Make sure each line of dialogue furthers the story in some way.
When writing dialogue, it is also easy to make mistakes that can ruin the flow of your story and turn off readers. To avoid these pitfalls, keep the following advice in mind:
Don’t use dialogue as a crutch
Dialogue is a great tool, but it should be used sparingly. Overuse of dialogue can make your story seem choppy and can slow down the pacing.
Avoid information dumps in your short stories
Info dumps are large blocks of exposition where characters explain their backstory or share long chunks of information. This type of dialogue is often dull and can cause readers to lose interest. Try to keep your pieces of dialogue shorter and more concise – they can still be informative but don’t overload too much onto your reader all at once.
Don’t use dialogue on its own to advance the plot
While dialogue can move the plot forward, it should never be used as a means to advance the story. If your only goal is to get to the next plot point, your dialogue will feel contrived and unnatural. Try using other methods to progress your story and use dialogue alongside them to really keep your reader interested.
By following these tips, you can avoid common dialogue mistakes in your writing. With a little practice, you’ll be able to write a natural-sounding dialogue that enhances your story.