Writing Wednesdays: Dialogue is crucial to your story - here's why...

Dialogue is such a pivotal element of story-writing... In this post, I talk about why.

It might seem like a pretty redundant thing to make a Writing Wednesday post about (‘Pfft, dialogue? Duh, of course I need to have people talking in my book!’) but I actually get a lot of questions from people asking me for help about how to write dialogue – how to write convincing dialogue, how to write more dialogue (or less!).

So if you need a little help with dialogue, read on!

First point: why is this such a big deal that I’m doing a post about it?

Conversations are a great way to develop plot in your story. Maybe the protagonist overhears an evil plot, maybe there’s a drunk conversation where two characters realise they’ve both secretly had a crush on each other for years, et cetera.

Speech is also a great way to show your characters’ personalities, and to develop them.

Maybe your character is a high school student who likes to use a lot of SAT words or maybe every other word is a swear word. Maybe they end every sentence like it’s a question. Maybe they have a stammer that only comes out when they’re around people they don’t know very well.

You might also like this guest Writing Wednesday post by Non Pratt all about dialogue.

Think about what kind of people your characters are, and how they’d talk if you met them in real life.

If it’s an old woman, she’ll talk a lot differently to a fourteen-year-old boy – so be mindful that your characters don’t all talk in the same style! My mum pointed out to me that in The Kissing Booth, a lot of the speech isn’t grammatically correct, and I replied that I knew, it wasn’t supposed to be – it’s not just us teens who don’t talk with perfect grammar, or anything.

Remember to also use things that people use in actual conversations. 

‘Um’ or ‘you know’ or ‘like’ can just help your characters seem a little more three-dimensional, because that’s how people talk. Just be careful not to have EVERY character use those sort of things ALL the time in every sentence, you know?

If your stories are very character-driven, they may have a lot more conversation than a story that is more along the lines of adventure or fantasy. (This isn’t a rule you should follow, or anything – just something I’ve noticed I books I’ve read.)


This is a pet peeve of mine when I’m reading books online. Remember to mention who’s speaking, every so often – it’s easy to lose track. Mention if the characters are gesturing, pacing. 

Mention what’s going on around them. Explain how they say things – are they asking, responding, laughing, snapping, wailing, etc? Does their voice break on a certain word, do they trail off? TELL YOUR READERS THESE THINGS.

It also makes it a little easier to read if a long conversation is broken up by some little descriptions or some movement or whatever. Or – tell us what the protagonist is thinking if the conversation is making them ecstatic/angry/upset and so on, because that gives more insight into the main character.

If you think your story has too much dialogue, then have a look at what you’ve written and try and work in some things from the paragraph above so you can beef it out with some other things. And add in some more description, too.

Think about how your protagonist will react after this conversation – will they storm out of the room after an argument, slam the door behind them, then sink to the floor and start crying, shaking all over from the emotional exhaustion of a confrontation? 

Tell us how they react! Don’t just leave it at the end of the conversation and move on if you haven’t told us what the impact of that conversation is.

Do you have any advice to share on writing dialogue, or is there something in particular you struggle with? Share in the comment section!

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