Lisa Burstein

This Be Where I Blog

How I Learned to Write Dialogue

on February 16, 2012

You might not believe this, but writing dialogue used to be one of my biggest weaknesses. Characterization: check, Description: check, Plot: well- mostly check(still working on this one 😉 ). But my dialogue, it was bad, horrible, embarrassing. I found it so hard to write it was non-existent. When it was there it was that info-dump dialogue, not the way anyone talks in real-life.

Then one day, I read something that changed it all: write dialogue like your characters are actually speaking to each other. You are just overhearing what they say- you don’t control it- the scene does, the story does. Some of you might be saying duh, but to me this was an epiphany- the characters talk- its not about what the reader needs to hear.

The difference this made in my writing was HUGE, so HUGE that it was noticed. My dialogue went from horrible and non-existent to being something people thought I excelled at, I even started getting complimented on it- and honestly it was just that one change.

So here’s how I write dialogue. I’ll write between characters back and forth(like a tennis game) with0ut punctuation or anything else and then go back once I have a dialogue skeleton and write the scene. So far this works for me.

I also use this: http://www.amazon.com/Alphasmart-Alpha-Smart-Processing-Computer

I know it looks like a big calculator- but I LOVE THIS MACHINE. Why? Because I can write without reading as I’m writing(key in cranking out dialogue w/out “over-thinking”). Because it’s not as scary as the big white screen, because it takes everything I write and transfers it into Word so I can edit it later :). I think you could also make your Word document super-small on the screen, so all you see is a few lines at a time if you don’t want to buy something new ;).

Any tips that took your writing to the next level?

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One response to “How I Learned to Write Dialogue

  1. Suuan says:

    Lisa –This is a wonderful post. very “BIRD by BIRD” Useful.

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