Write Better: Dialog

Our characters talk a lot. But what are they really saying?

More goes into dialog than you might think.

What part of the globe is your character from?

What words are shortened? What’s the lingo in the area? What era are we in? What age is your character/s?

All these questions should have answers. It may take some work, but the extra efford comes out in the way the character speaks to others. For instance the over use of the word just is mainly a midwestern thing. I never really noticed how much I say it until my last writer’s group meeting. It took a new member, from the other side of the country, to point this out before I admitted it. One search through my work in progress and “just” was used 34 time! Yikes! Considering this story takes place in Lovell Nevada, I had a lot of cutting to do.

Now don’t over do it with the edits! You want your character to stay true to the regions dialect but just enough to keep the story flowing. Don’t let your readers get bored because you think one more “just” will help. I tend to tell myself, if it isn’t in the dialog, its a replacable filler word, cut it. However you can over use words in your dialog in an attempt to make a characters fit in. This is a major no-no and will end up annoying your readers more than helping the story along.

It’s still a delicate balance, but it can be done.

If you feel like you need some examples I recommend:

People watching- as more places are opening to the masses, grabbing a cup of coffee and listening to the world around you can be a great source of current, local, lingo.

Books- YES! Reading other novels in your genre will help you get a feel for what you should be doing.

YouTube- With all the great things we have today, YouTube can be a great source for learning about wording used in different states, or even countries.

Now go write something!

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