When Arguments Are a Good Thing: Conflict in Dialogue

Most authors and their readers will agree that nothing beats a good bout of dialogue. Witty, poignant, romantic, angry—it’s all good. We all love it when characters open their big mouths and let fly. But creating good dialogue isn’t as easy as saying the first thing that pops to mind. Good dialogue is all about […]

How to Choose Between a Big Word and a Small Word

The debate between the worthiness of 25-cent words versus 100-dollar words is ongoing among authors. Some argue that simplicity is always best, if only because we can’t risk confusing readers with unfamiliar language. Others want to embrace the full scope of the English vocabulary and utilize impressive and specific big words. This is an argument […]

Are Your Dialogue Beats Repetitious?

Even the most scintillating dialogue scenes require more than just dialogue to stay afloat. They need dialogue beats—and good ones at that. You must pad the characters’ speech with dialogue tags (he said, she whispered, etc.), internal narrative, and body language and action—otherwise known as action beats. Often dialogue beats will flow naturally from the […]

Avoiding Info Dumps in Dialogue

Dialogue is one of the most exciting and fun bits to write in any story, not only because it gives you the opportunity to hear your characters speak, but also because it’s one of the prime breeding grounds for conflict. However, this only works if you’re avoiding info dumps in dialogue. The trick to good […]

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How to Use Dialogue to Avoid Lengthy Info Dumps

Stories are about sharing information with readers. This information can be anything from the main character’s mysterious former life as a trapeze artist to something really technical, such as how to disarm a nuclear weapon… or in the case of Neal Stephenson’s science-fiction tome Anathem, heavy-duty mathematics and philosophy. The trick for any author is […]

Want Fantastic Dialogue? Flee These 6 Fearsome Fillers

Want Fantastic Dialogue? Flee These 6 Fearsome Fillers

The oft-quoted recommendation to make your dialogue as realistic as possible is sometimes the worst advice imaginable. The next time you’re in a conversation—or, even better, eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation—draw back a bit and evaluate what you’re hearing. Those “ums,” “you knows,” and “so, likes…” that pepper our everyday speech may be realistic, but […]

Subtext in Dialogue: 5 Places Where Your Characters Should Stop Talking

Subtext in Dialogue: 5 Places Where Your Characters Should Stop Talking

Dialogue is all about getting things said—usually important things: “I am your father.” “You can’t handle the truth!” “To be or not to be, that is the question.” “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” We spend a lot of time polishing our dialogue and learning how to make […]

6 Ways You Can Use Dialogue in Your Story

Dialogue is one of the hardest-working components in fiction—but only if you take full advantage of it. It’s easy enough to make your characters talk to each other and even relatively easy enough to make what they say interesting to readers. But if interesting is the only burden your dialogue is carrying, it’s not doing […]

Don’t Overuse Names in Dialogue

One of the biggest challenges for any writer is creating realistic dialogue. It’s surprisingly difficult to recreate the patterns and nuances of human conversation. If you can write ace dialogue, you’ll have agents, editors, and readers all clambering at your door. You can start by making sure you’re not falling into one of the most […]

Why Every Protagonist Needs a Dialogue Buddy

Although some successful novels feature lone-wolf characters who face the world and its challenges by themselves, clever authors will sidestep the pitfall of leaving a main character without someone to talk to for the majority of the book. Your protagonist’s fellow conversationalists can be varied and multitudinous over the course of the book—but usually, you’ll […]