Sounds like the way people talk

SUMMARY: Ed Wilson talks about writing dialogue

BoyBearTowerOfLondon.jpg“Say, can you tell me some of the cool things you like to do when writing,” she asked.

I thought about my answer before committing, “I like to write dialogue.”

“Yes, I can see that. Umm, but you know … I am not sure that my, uh you know, dialog actually sounds, like, uh, you know, how uh, people, ummm, actually talk. Know what I mean?”

Indeed I do. The trick to writing believable dialog, is to not write the way people actually talk. Rather, it is to write in a way, that is sort of like people talk. But in a believable manner.

I like to use dialog in my technical writing as well as in fiction. The cool thing about introducing dialog in technical writing is that it makes the writing more personal. Readers can connect immediately with dialog. It puts the reader right in the room – and therefore they pay closer attention.

The one downside, is that dialog can take more time to get to the point. In fact, a nice numbered list is about as efficient as it gets. A running dialogue can cause things to get lost. I like to supplement both and therefore I gain the best of both worlds.

“Say, can you really tell me the trick to using effective dialog?”

“Sure I can. There are three main points to keep in mind,” I said. I then proceeded to enumerate the following points:

  1. Avoid adverbs when attributing the dialog. Instead let the dialog stand on it’s own.
  2. Use a pseudo-style. Do not write what people actually say, but what they might say.
  3. Feel free to bounce between dialog and other information.

“So, you are saying I need to keep three main points in mind when writing dialog. Cool. I can do that.”

“Yeah, I sort of thought you could.”

“Thanks for the help.”

“Don’t mention it.”

I then opened up the Facebook app on my laptop, and proceeded to catch up with my friends.

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