Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Trick to Writing Good Dialogue

The trick to writing good dialogue is voice.  What would he or she say?  The answer is entirely in language.  The choice of language reveals the nature of the characters, their ages, their backgrounds their education, their relationship and how they handle conflict.

Avoid long dialogues but keep the sense of exchange.  The following is the best example of economy of dialogue that I have read:

"You asshole," she snarled.
"You're the asshole," I said.
"I hate you."
"Ditto," I said.  "Ditto and square it."

                            --T. Coraghessan Boyle, "The Night of the Satellite"
                               The New Yorker, April 15, 2013, p.62

1 comment:

  1. Yes. For the best dialogue - keep the tags simple. Just a simple he/she said works best and if one is indicated the other's words are indicated without a tag. AND - as Elmore Leonard said.... never use an adverb to reinforce a tag line verb. Just SHOW IT.
    Good advice from Catherine and Elmore.


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