How To Use Dialog in Storytelling
Using dialog in storytelling skyrockets your writing to the next level.
The three ways to write a story are: 1.Narrative exposition (generally boring) 2. Action (too many thriller scenes can exhaust the reader) 3. Dialog ( the best way to develop characters)
Readers love dialog because:
- Dialog breaks up the monotony of boring blocks of narrative.
- It reveals character through dialect and word choice.
- Great dialog moves the story forward without author intrusion.
Great Dialog can drastically improve your fiction.
Tip # 1 Use Dialog to Explain Elements of Your Story
If you have written something as exposition, it probably came out dry. Try putting the information into dialog. Watch your scene come alive.
Have a character tell what they saw or explain a problem. If another character disagrees, the main character must explain or expand on his position.
To make dialog more powerful, your characters should be passionate about the idea or problem. Either passionately for it, or against it.
If you find yourself stuck in a scene, not sure how to continue, try rearranging the information into dialog and watch the scene come to life.
Tip #2: Use Dialog in Storytelling to Relate Backstory.
Use dialog to convey a previous event that affects the current situation. Add intimate details. Explain how your character felt. Give your readers insights into your characters’ background.
By using dialog to layer in backstory, you avoid flashbacks which are usually exposition, which tends to be boring.
Tip #3: Use Verbal Conflict to Add Tension.
People differ in the way they look at life (men, women, young, old). Personalities clash. Use that diversity to create tension. See: How to Write Powerful Arguments
Example: From our second book Globes of Fire
Develop sharp, interesting dialog that enhances your story.
Tip #4: Use Dialog in Storytelling to Establish Relationships.
Dialog between a mother and daughter might be gentle, while the dialog between the same mother and her husband might be strained.
Use dialog in storytelling to define your characters and their unique relationships.
Tip #5: Dialog in Storytelling can Show a Character’s Personality
How your character speaks can show the reader a great deal about a character’s personality.
Let the dialog reflect the era of your story and the place your character came from. How your character speaks should add meat to the bones of your characters.
In this example, you learn a great deal about the personality of the character, with no further explanation.
The dialog should give the reader clues about your character’s personality
Tip #6 Use Dialog to Reveal Your Setting.
Have your characters describe the things they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. See our post: Use your Setting to ‘Show’ Characters
We are told to show not tell. If the characters are talking about the things which surround them that is showing not telling.
Tip #7 Dialog Can Foreshadow Future Events.
Hint at some future event. Create suspense. Intrigue your readers. You want them to keep reading to discover what happens.
Your characters can talk about things they anticipate. They can show anxiety about what they expect, or hope will happen. See our post about Foreshadowing.
Dialog, An Essential Part of Storytelling.
Make your character’s conversations count. There should be a purpose to what each character says.
Dialog should add value to your story.
To recap, Dialog Can:
- Establish mood or tone.
- Reveal character.
- Create Tension and conflict.
- Disclose exposition.
- Advance plot
- Build suspense.
- Create foreshadowing.
- Establish relationships
- Reveal Backstory
- Describe the setting.
Check out this Post for: 9 Tips to Write Dialog
Do you think using more dialog will improve your stories?
Do you have any suggestions or comments?
We would love to chat.
John & Patty @writingagreatbook 2023
Punctuation for dialog can be confusing.
Download Rules for Punctuating Dialog