1. DeathandGrim
    Offline

    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    540
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Virginia Beach

    Coming up with dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DeathandGrim, Apr 3, 2013.

    My question to you all is how do you all come up with dialogue for your works? How do you make it seem believable? How do you incorporate accents of any kind?

    I generally have conversations with myself becoming my characters and filling the part for them.
     
  2. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    I don't have 'accents' per se being a Science Fiction writer, but there are aliens that don't speak normal language. What I do is something similar to Yoda and jumble up the words. It seems to be enough to keep people in the loop.
     
  3. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    I have this checklist when I create dialogue
    1.Is it cliche?
    2. Is it believable?
    3. Is it wordy?
    4. Is it clear?

    What I see people do too often with dialogue, is that they have their characters say something they know the other char knows. For example this would be bad dialogue

    John:Jane! Where did you put the pencil that I always write with when I write?
    Jane:It's in the living-room.
    It would be better as

    John:Jane! Where's my pencil?
    Jane: In the living-room.

    And I don't use accents because I know I would fail with them. As you write, you see your dialogue becomes more believable depending on how many words are used. Which is why I say you should use as few words as possible. Because when we talk, for the most part, we use as few words as possible. And of course, us writers get rid of the typical uhm's, likes, and stutters for the most part when we make dialogue.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Don't forget to add conflict! You should never have any dialogue without some conflict. It doesn't have to be the entire dialogue exchange, but at some point one character can be rubbed the wrong way by the other. Think about how they each see the world/current situation/each other differently, and then explore how those differences could cause conflict between them.

    Also, a lot of real-life conversations are people too busy trying to say what they want to say and not really listening to the other character. I noticed that ALL of my characters were fully engaged in EVERY conversation, and went back to change that. (They're teens, too.:p)

    That said, you don't want dialogue to get too real. There's like an uncanny valley when it comes to dialogue. Just as in robotics and CGI, the more realistic it gets, the more disturbing it comes across. Real dialogue is full of stuttering, misstarts, and redundancy that simply doesn't work on the page. Also, accents that are too realistic can be very distracting. (THAT said, it's not impossible. Train spotting is written entirely in a heavy scottish dialect. It's really jarring at first, but you get used to it after a few chapters and then I think it enhances the rest of the book).

    Remember, stories are the illusion of truth, not actual truth.
     
  5. Markowen
    Offline

    Markowen New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Usually I write the dialogues very quickly, and only in a second moment I fix it. More or less as blackstar did it in his example.
    Besides, in this second phase, I also think about the personality and the accent of the character who's speaking.
     
  6. WhenIt'sDark
    Offline

    WhenIt'sDark Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    I usually make sure I'm alone in my room when I write dialogues because I like to read them out loud. If you can hear them you immediately notice when they don't sound right.

    I also try to avoid using names over and over again;

    Hi jane, how are you?
    I'm fine, Emma, thanks for asking!
    So Jane, can you tell me...

    That's not what people would say in real life.

    I often let my characters create the dialogue. I try to visualize the scene in my head and almost act it out. There is often a logical response, especially when you know your characters well. And like Funkybassmannick said; Don't forget conflict!
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ...i just put myself in the head of the character and write what s/he would say in that situation...

    ...by knowing how people of all sorts speak, from being a lifelong people-watcher/listener and making the dialog fit the situation...

    ...by informing the reader and with syntax and regional idioms, not weird spelling...
     
  8. Youniquee
    Offline

    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    733
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Under your bed.
    I always make sure there's a reason for why I'm adding that dialogue that helps. If you can a clear purpose, it's easier to make it realistic since you know what you're trying to get across. But if you're having trouble, read more novels and also listen to conversations around you and how people speak. (I'm not encouraging eavesdropping...I think)
    I only use dialect or slang, never actual accents because it's annoying to read.
     
  9. Terralala
    Offline

    Terralala Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2013
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Ontario
    I like writing dialogue it comes to me easily, if it is any good I don't know for sure but I will find out when I let someone other then my husband read my work. Where I work I have short conversations with anywhere from 100-300 people in a shift and I find those interactions with strangers helps me when I am creating a voice for each character. I have one character in my current novel that is meant to make other people uneasy so when he speaks he uses the other characters names often, I did this because I found it makes me very uneasy when people use my name in conversation often. I suppose it doesn't hurt that I daydream about new characters a lot and have a lot of conversations in my head.

    I personally have never tried to incorporate an accent, I know it wouldn't go over well.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I come up with dialogue when I want to show mood, personality, complex motivations, relationships and the like. Dialogue is more effective than narrative for this kind of character exposure/development.

    Good dialogue is like an iceberg. About 90% should be below the surface. What is literally being said is very often the least important part. The choice of wording, whethe te parties are actually responding to what the other, and the choice of phrasing tells a great deal about what is going on between them. Consider a conversation between one person who wants to get married and one who wants nothing of the sort. Neither one may speak one word bout marriage or weddings, bu what is and is not said can still shout to the reader as to their agendas.

    Read good dialogue, and watch for conversations of this type. There is no better way to learn.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. Ubrechor
    Offline

    Ubrechor Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Some Other Place
    Experience is the thing that always gets me through the dialogue process. Whether that is experience through reading other writers' creation of dialogue, or listening to everyday conversations (which is hardly difficult - just listening to your family and friends will do), it really helps when attempting to craft believable dialogue of acceptable length and pace.
    A little more specifically, you need to think about what kind of culture, and then what kind of character. The speech is very different in a high fantasy novel than in the latest summer romance, or a contemporary crime thriller. Likewise, the octogenerian speaks differently from the teenager, the calm speaks differently from the aggravated, the happy speaks differently from the sad, the introvert speaks differently from the extrovert.

    Normally, if you begin the dialogue with a good line, then the rest of it will follow in the same vein. Whenever you open a section of dialogue with a certain line, imagine someone is standing next to you while you're busily writing, taps you on the shoulder and speaks that line. If your first reaction is to turn around and punch them, then you need to review the line. :)
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Listening to real conversations is important, but the goal is not to reproduce actual speech. The goal is to presnt the illusion of real speech.

    Real speech is sloppy. In addition to hesitation sounds ("Ah, um, uh, like,..."), real speech contains poorly thought out sentences, backtracking, broken gammar that does not reflect the speaker's language skills, all kinds of artifacts that don't enhance written dialogue. Real conversations are unfocused and often tedious to listen to as a third, disinterested oarty. Read a transcript from a wiretap or a court record sometime. It is not particularly entertaining reading.

    What you want to produce is dialogue that the reader believes is natural, but which is crafted to deliver information on multiple levels. Again, the literal content often takes a back seat to what is not said directly, the subtext.

    Dialogue is difficult to master, practically an art form in itself.
     
  13. Kendria Perry
    Offline

    Kendria Perry Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, America's wang.
    Writing dialogue for me is the easiest part of writing, but I'll give you some tips:

    1. Watching dialogue-heavy, critically-acclaimed movies or TV shows. A great example I always use is Pulp Fiction, by Quentin Tarantino. Around 90% of the movie is dialogue, and really great dialogue at that.

    2. Listen to the way people talk. Go to a restaurant or department store or somewhere else where people talk a lot, and pay attention to the way they use certain words, trail off, change the subject, etc.

    3. When all else fails, throw a couple of swear words into it. Works like a charm. :)
     

Share This Page