Dialogue

Listen to people carrying on conversations. You’ll find they speak using fragments and one-word answers. We don’t always speak in complete sentences. As I mentioned last time, avoid chunks of dialogue from one character. Let the other characters engage in the conversation as well, even if their replies are brief.

Remember men speak differently than women. They are less verbal. You wouldn’t have a man going to great lengths to describe something. Whereas a women might babble in long drawn out sentences.

Example one: A man’s reply.
“What’d your dog look like?” the attendant asked.

“Black. Hairy. Part collie,” replied the man.

Example two: A woman’s reply.
“What’d your dog look like?” the attendant asked.

“Tuffi has long black hair and a nose like a border collie, though I suspect he’s only part because of the brown speckles on his legs,” rattled the lady.

Avoid being “Mr. Professor.” You’ve done your research, and you want to show it off. Don’t try to explain everything. Instead, be sure you’re using the correct jargon for the specialized field you’ve researched. Such as a lawyer would say his client was acquitted rather than say he got off the hook. I sometimes use a reference book called The Book of Jargon by Don Ethan Miller. If you do have to explain something, break it up and feed it into the story slowly.

Never have your characters talk about general things during a love scene such as what happened at work. Keep any dialogue limited to sounds and words your characters use to arouse one another.

Be sure your reader knows who is speaking. You can use a tag or beat.

Example — tag: “I love chocolate,” she said.

Example — beat: Beth took off her shoes. “My feet hurt.” If it’s clear who’s speaking, you don’t have to use one every time.

Don’t put someone’s dialogue with another character’s actions. Instead, start a new paragraph.