January 29, 2013 2 Comments
Dialogue is the hardest thing for me to write. I mean, I know what I want my characters to say most of the time, but it’s tough making their speech sound natural. And the difference between good dialogue and poorly written dialogue can make or break fiction of any length. Nothing kills suspension of disbelief quite as quickly as a conversation between characters that sounds contrived and forced.
I often use Steinbeck‘s method to check my own dialogue. And not just dialogue. I’ll read anything out loud to make sure it sounds right before I declare it finished, even if I have to whisper it to keep from being heard. (I already sound half-mad talking about my characters like they’re real people. I don’t need anyone thinking I’m talking to myself. Or them.)
You can’t know how something sounds until you hear it.
Surprisingly, I can’t recall a single teacher I’ve ever had recommend this simple technique. If you don’t do this already, I highly recommend it. Few things will give your dialogue an instant make-over as effectively.