Dazzling Dialogue––Part II

Dialogue is a compression and extension of action. There are certain elements that are essentials to creating dazzling dialogue. Every character has a “want” in the scene. They’re saying something because they want something, or there is something they want to avoid. Click to Tweet #dazzlingdialogue #amwriting

As previously stated, every character has an agenda––something they want out of the conversation. Especially the POV character, in whose we are in, it will be easy to know what they want out of it. But also think, not how the POV character thinks the other character(s) will respond, but how you know, (because you, the author, know what each character is thinking, and what they’ll want) that character will respond.

See if you can figure out what Mac and Joe might “want” besides what they say they want in the dialogue below. The flow of dialogue between character-to-character is how they would normally speak in life. But, when we’re speaking with each other, we usually insert many extraneous words like: uh, um, uh yeah, yaknowwhatImean, all kinds of little phrases or words that are totally unnecessary for the reader to experience.

Here’s an example:

Mac: Aw gees, uh, ya know, I wanna go to the grocery store. I uh, ya know, need to get some cigarettes.

Joe: Um, yeah, ya know, I’ll think I’ll go with ya. I uh, need some, too.

Here’s how it should read.

Mac: I wanna go to the grocery store. I need to get some cigarettes.

Joe: I think I’ll go with ya. I need some, too.

You could include one “uh” maybe, to place an intentional pause in their speech. Here’s how that would look.

Mac: I wanna go to the grocery store. I uh, need to get some cigarettes.

Joe: I’ll go with ya. I need some, too.

A writing “rule” these days that says to remove all “uh”s and “um”s. It’s possible to do that if you put a “beat” in the dialogue. Let’s see what that would look like.

“I wanna go to the grocery store.” Mac rubbed his chin. “I need to get some cigarettes.”

Joe nodded. “I think I’ll go with you. I need some, too.”

There is a false triangle between the two characters on the two bottom points, and the reader at the top. In dialogue, the characters speak as they would speak in life without all the extra words like “uh” and “um.” Click to Tweet #dazzlingdialogue #amwriting

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