Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Dialogue

One thing has become clear whilst learning my lines for tonight's rehearsal: bad dialogue sticks out.

Here's a test for you: pick a page of your novel/short story with lots of dialogue and try to learn it all. See how long it takes and what mistakes you make when learning.

Anything that is difficult to remember may be wrong for the character.

The script I'm learning for tonight has several parts to it that are difficult to learn as they don't seem to fit the character or his speaking pattern. This may be due to bad dialogue, or, just as likely, that I don't understand or know the character well enough.

It makes me wonder about the 'bad' dialogue that I've written in the past. Either I didn't know the character well enough, or the dialogue was wrong.


Cindy said...

That's a great suggestion. I've noticed that if I really sit back and look at my dialogue or if I even try to read it out loud from my characters point of view sometimes I'll find the dialogue doesn't fit the scene. Or even worse, the dialogue doesn't fit the character. It really helps to put yourself in your characters shoes to get the best dialogue.

Justus M. Bowman said...

It's tough to give each character a unique voice. I'm working on it!

Martin Willoughby said...


Trying to imagine who the character is most like in real life helps as a starting point: the intelligence of Albert Einstein and the humour of Jack Lemon for example.

KLo said...

This might sound weird, but I have to be able to "hear" the voices of each of my characters. That's how I'm fairly successful with realistic dialogue. Until I was able to envision it, get down accents, dialect, slang expressions commonly used by certain characters, my written dialogue was painfully clunky.