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Read all ten at writersBreak.com. I got a kick out of number 6 because I try to avoid the kind of trivial conversation he uses to describe “real-life dialog,” but he makes a good point.

Tip #6: To write good dialogue, don’t listen to people talking to each other.

Dialogue on the page doesn’t sound like real-life dialogue. Real-life dialogue is boring, filled with mistakes, and “tells” much too much. And be careful of “he said.” It breaks up the rhythm of the dialogue, especially if it’s repeated too often.

Typical real life dialogue:

Joe: “Hey Ed, how are you?” Ed: “Fine, what’s up?” Joe: “Great. How’s your job going?” Ed: “It’s OK. But I’m looking for something else that pays more.” Joe: “Yeah, me too. What type of job are you looking for?” Ed: “I don’t know.” Joe: “Me either.” Ed: “Wanna go get something to eat.” Joe: “That sounds good.” Ed: “Where do you want to go?” Joe: “I don’t know…what time is it?”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Dialogue on the written page has to involve more action, not only in the dialogue itself but in the descriptive paragraphs or narrative that should be inserted somewhere into the above conversation. Don’t let dialogue go on too long without breaking it up.


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