Let’s Talk Dialogue (Plus,Tell Me a Tune)

Dialogue. The Big D. The Cheese Burrito. (Don’t ask me why I threw that last one in– just roll with it.)

It’s a fundamental part of fiction: one of the best ways to show rather than tell (i.e., let your characters speak for themselves…literally), a great way to communicate information quickly, and an excellent pace-quickener, among other things. Perhaps more than anything else, it’s natural.

…Or should be.

Although our dialogue will ideally read like speech, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it sounds like writing…and sometimes there are other challenges. Have you ever, for example, had trouble with one of these?

  • Someone talking with food in their mouth
  • A character with an accent, twang, or dialect
  • Getting the pauses/hesitation/stutters right
  • Dialogue interrupted by action
  • Putting the tags in the right places and knowing when to exclude them
  • Punctuation-related grievances

Talk about issues!

What challenges have you encountered with dialogue? And (if applicable) how did you read, teach, or talk yourself out of them?

BONUS QUESTION OF THE DAY, completely unrelated to writing and usual Forum Friday material: can you think of any pop songs that tell a story as the story is happening?

Think “Stan” by Eminem, where you hear letters as they are being written, or “Internet Friends” by Knife Party, where a crazy stalker shows up at her new Facebook friend’s house when they block her (and you actually hear the doorbell, knocking, phone ringing, etc.) Heads up– both songs contain language/contentious material!