Tips for Writing a Compelling and Skilful Dialogue
When written dialogue is used skillfully, it can hook the reader and draw them into an article or book, leaving them mesmerized. Dialogue is also easy to read and helps the reader to move along quickly in comparison to page upon page of expressive wording. There is no need for people to learn about speech because it is already part of us. People are constantly engaged in dialogue – with other individuals, with their animals, by phone, and some people even converse with themselves. Indeed, speech is the most normal means of conveying information amongst people in most societies. However, the question of how to write compelling dialogue is another matter – in fact, making written dialogue sound natural is an art form. If you listen to people’s natural speech, you will find that sentences are often disjointed, littered with slang words, and full of half-utterances while their body language and facial expressions say the rest. Therefore, this sort of speech would not make complete sense in written form. Therefore, written dialogue needs to be conveyed with skill and in a natural-sounding way.
Someone who is experienced and able to write a compelling dialogue will use this method to describe different characters, their personality, and background, and they will be able to create a vivid scene or mood. Rather than providing boring paragraph after paragraph of text, this method is much more effective for conveying the circumstances.
The way you make a character speak can paint a picture of their personality. For example, a mobster might use slang and refer to others by nicknames. In contrast, a professional person can be conveyed by using intellectual phrases and elegant language. If you can manage to write compelling dialogue, there is no need for you to say this is a well-dressed, well-spoken, and well-educated person because the dialogue will demonstrate this. It is also possible to use suitable dialogue to convey the gender of a character – using either feminine or masculine speech. Your aim is to give the reader a mental picture of that character with your choice of wording.
Another tip on how to write compelling dialogue is to have your characters refer to the past. This will give the reader an idea about what motivates them. Use speech to create images of your characters. Write your dialog so that the reader can identify with a character and understand where they got certain traits from e.g. let the reader start thinking that your character has become a spoilt or petulant adult because their parents over-indulged them as a child.
You can write a compelling dialogue to set any mood you want. For example, let your readers see that your characters are enjoying a relaxed setting by letting the characters refer to the scene as they converse. You do not have to describe how someone went looking for matches to light candles. Instead, one character can ask the other to “please light the candles on the dining table.” Conversation can be much more compelling than a full-worded description.
Another way to write compelling dialogue is to have a couple of characters describe another person. This saves you giving a word-by-word description of that person. Take, for example, a woman who is exceptionally well-dressed. You could have two characters conversing about her appearance and how much she must spend on clothes. And you could further develop the conversation by having the characters speculate on how much it must cost to care for such expensive clothes, and so on. You can even create a sense of resentment or envy towards the expensively-dressed woman for your reader.
It is always a good idea to read the dialogue you have written out loud so that you hear how it sounds. Then you will know that your reader isn’t going to identify with it if it doesn’t sound or flow naturally. This is really important when you are learning how to write compelling dialog – making a conversation sound as if it’s real. If the conversation sounds awkward to you in places, then most likely, that’s how it will sound to your readers. Try not to get bogged down in slang and local dialects. If that gets too complex to follow, then the reader is unlikely to continue. You should also pay attention to the length of responses because people generally speak alternately in short bursts, unless they are recounting a story or making a speech. Convey emotion through dialect. A sense of impatience can be conveyed with a short “yes” or “no.”
Most readers have good imagination and a big attraction of reading is to paint a picture from words and figure out the meaning in an overall context. So, if you want to write compelling dialog, do not offend your readers’ intelligence by describing precisely how everything looks or feels.