“When did you become a shivering old woman,’ Okonkwo asked himself, ‘you who are known in all the nine villages for your valor in war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have a become a woman indeed.” – Okonkwo, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
The above is a speech made by the protagonist Okonkwo. The character inthe famous novel, struggles with false sense of masculinity and is torn between his heart and his pride. Even without reading the novel, we can get a good sense of Okonkwo’s personality. A good dialogue is able to effectively tell us about your character. It gives more depth to your story and directly lets us know how the characters are responding to the events in the plot.
I will take you through some tips on how to write a good dialogue, so if you have been struggling to create dialogue or conversations in your work, then keep reading!
1. Know Your Characters
Dialogue is basically what your characters are saying. Therefore it is important that it ‘sounds’ like what the character would say. It should reflect their traits and actions throughout the book. For example, If Tolani is 7 year old introverted girl who has been isolated from public interactions by her parents, it would be an inaccurate scene, if she has a very chatty dialogue with a total stranger This does not fit into her personality or her background. To write good dialogue it is essential that you know them – personality, age, origin, education, profession etc. All these give guidelines in understanding your character’s diction.
2. Do not use your dialogue to explain
There’s no need for your character to have a lengthy speech that is basically narrating your story. If your readers need such a thorough explanation in order to understand the events, then you may need to revise your work. Also do not use dialogue to clarify what all the other characters already know.
3. Realistic and in theme
Do your best to prevent your dialogue from sounding awkward or unbelievable. A story set in the present age would not be using Shakespearean diction. Stray away from using big, complex words that are likely to not be said in everyday conversations.
4. Play the role of character
Try saying aloud what you’ve written repeatedly. If the flow is right and it reflects how the character you have created would talk, then you’re good to go. performing your work to yourself or even a friend can help you write effective dialogue and know the actions to accompany them.
5.Insert action in dialogue
Remember that when we are speaking, we aren’t immobile. We keep moving, same with Life around us. So breaking up the dialogue and inserting certain action gives better imagery and more realism to your story.
Follow these 5 tips and you are sure to come up with effective dialogue for your story. You can also check out books on Tell! books to read works and get a good sense of how different writers create dialogue in their works.