Dialogue --Keep it Real (A-Z Blog)

If you have ever had a conversation with me or around me, you may have noticed that some of the time (most of the time if I am being honest) I get this far-away look on my face and I'm reaching for my phone (I have found that using ColorNotes is far less rude than taking out my pen and paper). I promise I am giving our conversation as much concentration as I can. But I am also always sorting out dialogue for a current or future novel.

Dialogue has to sound like people actually sound when they talk. The only way to keep your reader enthralled in your book and forgetting about the real world is to help them forget they are actually reading a book. Your readers are just eavesdropping on these fictional people's lives. One of the best ways to do this is through good dialogue. Make your characters sound like real people.

Real people don't use perfect grammar (sorry to my previous English teacher life and to my teacher friends).

Real people have speaking mannerisms...little things they say when they are nervous or excited.

Real people don't tell people things that other people should already know (or at least they shouldn't)

"Hey Fred, remember that time we rode that mountain goat all the way down that river?" (Unless Fred has been in a coma or has suffered a head injury, that would be a memorable ride). Find a different way to tell the back-story.

Real people curse if the situation calls for it. If your character drops a hammer on her foot, it will sound ridiculous if she says, "Oh shucks." Unless of course  you have established that in her character. Stay true to your characters. Don't make them swear unless it makes sense for their character or there is a reason for it. (Like a kid testing boundaries). It should sound natural.

Bottom line. Read it out-loud. Does it sound like people talk? Listen to people every chance you get. For research, of course.