How to write a good dialogue (part2)


Dos and don’ts for writing dialogue


Pay attention to each character’s different speaking style.

Edit dialogue to trim off most of the fat. A lot of what people say is just blah-blah-blah, but you don’t want to bore your reader.

Show how the character speaks instead of telling it. If the character speaks angrily, you can make this come through in her words — it’s therefore often not necessary to add an expressive dialogue tag such as, “she said angrily.” The same if a character is shouting or crying, etc. Keep the reader’s attention on your character’s speech, not your explanation of it.


Don’t get too colorful with the dialogue tags. “Hello,” she shouted; “Hi there,” he cried; “How are you?” she queried,” “Fine thanks,” he shrilled”… too much of this stuff gets distracting fast. Put your thesaurus away. The basic dialogue verbs “say,” “tell,” and “ask,” have the advantage of fading in the background, letting the reader focus on what your character is saying.

Don’t feel obligated to add a tag to every bit of dialogue. If it’s clear who’s saying what without them, then you can leave them off.

Don’t let your reader get disoriented. Use dialogue tags when they’re needed to prevent confusion. There’s nothing worse than stopping in the middle of an exciting scene to retrace the dialogue and try to figure out who’s saying what (“Okay, it’s the killer speaking here, so this must be the detective who’s answering him, not his sister…”)

Good luck:)


18 thoughts on “How to write a good dialogue (part2)”

  1. disoriented. TRUE! when authors give characters several names (regular names, proper names, and nicknames) the reader can get lost. Especially if their are a LOT of characters. Absolutely drives me nuts (and is the main reason I never finished ‘The Game of Thrones’ series. And I read a LOT) Funniest thing? my son and I were discussing writing dialogue today!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. when they have the dialogue written so Lord Grey, who is also known as Stormy and the Duke of Aston, or James and Jamie are all talking, it gets a bit out of hand. It is less muddling when you see it all written out. Lord James Grey, the Duke of Aston, known as Stormy behind his back and Jamie to his dear friends.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember reading a book written by one of the sci-fi greats in his dotage. He dispensed with dialogue tags almost entirely. Unfortunately everyone seemed to speak the same way, so after a while I didn’t know who was who or what they were saying. I use tags – perhaps too much – but I won’t fall into his trap.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s