When I read fiction, and even when I write it myself, the area that often needs the most work is the dialogue between characters. Whether the character is talking too properly, leaving out key details or divulging way more than necessary, dialogue tends to be riddled with easily-fixed issues.
There are many in-depth approaches to improving your dialogue, but to get you started, I’m going to give you 3 quick tips. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments below!
1. Lose the proper stuff.
So long as you’re writing fairly present-day fiction, your characters shouldn’t always be speaking in full sentences or using ‘proper language.’ “Make sense?” (vs. “Does that make sense?”) Think about how you talk with other people. Do you use contractions? Do you leave out words that can be assumed? The answer is probably and usually, yes. So let your characters talk the same way and suddenly their dialogue will take on a much more believable tone.
2. Let profound statements happen, but not all of the time.
Some of us (raising my hand here) tend to create characters with a streak of wisdom or flamboyance, and these characters like to speak up once and a while. But whether a character is offering advice or proclaiming his/her love, save profound and wordy dialogue for those rare memorable moments. Because let’s be real, no one talks like that very often.
Often when we speak or listen to others talking, we’re only half present. We miss the nuances of language, the half sentences, the common and miraculous things that people say to one another. Listening well is the first step to understanding how people really speak to one another, so you can insert it into your fiction.