Credit image: Lidy/SomeeCards

One night, I had a family friend pick up my youngest child from the sitter’s for me. When I went to pick him up at her place he said the cutest little and most laughable thing.

“Hi mom. How you doin? I watch TV.” And went straight back to the sofa to continue watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Already, that one sentence shows the speaker’s personality traits. That the speaker is a fan on the Avatar series. And their use of short broken sentences, conveys that the speaker is probably a young child. As a writer, you can also “show” the speaker, by writing their descriptive/physical traits.

As you can see every person speaks a certain way. And how they speak shows their character, their emotions, their culture and other various things. So to write believable dialogue, a writer must listen to and learn how people speak. Doing this will require a lot of eavesdropping.
Another thing to pay attention to is how others behave when they speak. A person can speak politely and eloquently at work. But swears like a sailor after a couple of drinks.  Or do they like to move their hands alot? Twirl their or shuffle their feet? Are they doing some kind of task? Moving objects around? Are they looking into your eyes? Are they the type of person who prefers to walk as they talk; who doesn’t like standing still? A person’s body is usually in motion while they speak, giving off signals to their internal emotions.

Not only does how a person’s speak, but what they’re talking about is also important. A conversation between two or more people helps to convey their personalities and interrelationships. For example, every so often at work, a conversation about certain cartoons would come up. The co-workers involved in the discussion are mostly women. And are listing the cartoons they find offensive, horrendous and or hilarious. From the discussion alone, the women in question can be of one or two types of people. A mother because she is aware of her children’s favorite shows and might also watch with them. Or someone who still loves watching cartoons.

So, what’s the lesson for today? In order for a writer to write believable dialogue, he/she must first listen to how people speak. And then incorporate it into their writing. Like collecting lines, you’ll be collecting speech that’ll help you write more colorful characters. So open your ears wide and don’t miss a thing!

In what ways have you improved your dialogue? What tips or advice about writing dialogue has helped you?

Write It Like You Speak It

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