How to Write Gripping Dialogue

I don't know about you, but I love it when I get into a book and find that the writer can write killer dialogue. When an author has what it takes to write great conversations, I find myself immersed in their work. It's like listening and watching the characters on the T.V. of my mind.

Dialogue is important in writing, but it can easily become flat and boring. According to Adam Sexton's book Master Class In Fiction Writing, there are several things writers can do to improve their dialogue. After reading this book and others, I've compiled a list of things that help me stay focused when writing dialogue because none of us wants our readers to think this ^.


1.) Dialogue should propel the plot. It should push the characters and scene forward, dragging readers behind.

2.) Dialogue should increase tension. I especially like what Sexton said about conflict. I often have my characters bickering about one thing or another in order to introduce drama and character flaws.

3.) Dialogue should convey information. There has to be a point for the dialogue. What are we, as writers, trying to say by having our characters speak?

4.) The syntax and diction should match the character’s status (economically, regionally, educationally, etc.).

5.) Dialogue should add veracity. Characters should talk the way every-day people talk. It causes the reading to be more believable.


1.) Do not stuff your dialogue with too much exposition. It’s not believable.

2.) Do not repeat known information to reader through dialogue. If they already know it, leave it out.

3.) Our dialogue should not be unclear or lack eloquence unless it adds to the revelation of character.

4.) Do not be melodramatic. People don’t always say everything they feel. Leave a little mystery.

5.) Don’t use accents or phonetic spelling. (This was the advice in the book. In my opinion, a little accent goes a long way. Just keep it to a minimum.)

6.) Don't use fancy attributives.  If you're trying to be funny, don't add "he joked." If it's really funny, readers will get it. If not, then it wasn't really funny. Just don't try too hard.

When I think great dialogue, I cannot help but think Gilmore Girls. I love the witty comments and rants. Click here for a video of some rants and ravings of my favorite girls. lol
When you think great dialogue, what book/show/etc. do you think about?

Photo by Favim.


Emily Wood said...

I love the back-and-forth between Lorelai and Rory in Gilmore Girls! That show is one of my all-time favorites for this reason and many others. The dialogue is really what caused me to be drawn in.

Great post!
I tend to struggle with dialoge at times, so this was just what I needed. :)

Caledonia Lass said...

Hmm... I have lots of things come to mind when it comes to great dialogue. I personally like witty, sarcastic comments. The movie "RED" comes to mind at the moment.
I use an "accent" for a character in my own writing and while it may throw people off, it isn't so bad that they will stop reading and walk away scratching their heads. Sometimes accent works, sometimes it doesn't.
I'm breaking my lurking habits to let you know I've given you a blog award. You can hop on over later to pick it up. :)

Lena Winfrey Seder said...

These are some simple and great tips. I also enjoy great dialogue and it makes a story so much more enjoyable.

Vanessa Eccles said...

Dialogue is what makes the characters feel real to me. Thanks for the comments, friends. And thanks for the award Caledonia! :)