Dialogue

It’s good to reveal your characters motive through their own speech – tells us their priorities and what drives them. For instance, the reader can learn why they are doing what they are doing, what they really care about (money, love), etc.

Speech also gives us a sense of the immediate emotion – perhaps fear or that they have moved on to a decision: ‘I’ve pulled myself together and will state this straight.’

Dialogue can speed up a scene/action: ‘This isn’t working, we need to try something else.” It can be better than describing something and showing it as a failure.

It cuts description and pushes the story forward if a character says, “A bit dreary here, isn’t it?” Then you can weave in details as the characters’ talk:

“Hmm, I’m not sure I like this kitchen,” she said.

“It’s a bit dark,” he said.

“And dirty, do you think we can make it liveable? If we really work at it?”

He wraps his arm around her shoulder. “Knowing you, we can do anything.”

This allows us to find out what characters think: “Well this place looks like it should be pulled down.” Is better than a long description of decline.

Dialogue cuts background briefing by explaining why, what and who are at issue?

Dialogue can also reveal tension by showing how your characters interact with each other. For instance:

Anxiety, how does the voice change?

Pace of speech – if this changes, fast to slow or slow to fast, it can reveal a change in character’s emotion and heightens tension making us think, what is going on in his mind.

When using dialogue, think FAD - Feelings, Action, Dialogue. We feel, we act, we speak. It’s rarely any other way.

Julie felt a shadow move between them. She looked around to see a woman kiss the back of Brad’s neck. “Who’s this?” she asked.

Write a scene from your story two ways: all dialogue, all narrative. Which works best? Can you weave them?