What makes a good dialogue

What you have to consider when writing a dialogue:
6 tips for good dialogues

1. Dialogue is not real speech.

2. Dialog has a function.

3. Dialogue is entertaining.

4. Dialogue gives your characters a profile.

5. Dialogue conveys information.

6. Inner monologue as a special form of dialogue.

1. Dialogue is not real speech.

Don't try to write down real conversations as dialogue. Dialogues should sound real, be authentic and credible. But they also have to be condensed and targeted. The verbatim "Ähems" and "Hmms" won't get you any further. Repetitions, filler words and empty phrases do not belong in the dialogue. Avoid prolonged chatter. Write tight dialogues.

2. Dialog has a function.

The dialogue always has a function in the narrative. Mostly he drives the action. It supports the characterization of your figures and gives your figures a profile. It provides essential information for the progress of the story without boring readers with a cumbersome, dry report.

3. Dialogue is entertaining.

The dialogue is a welcome change in the prose story. Write engaging, interesting dialogues. This succeeds z. B. with the Technique of indirect dialogue. Do not let your character respond directly to a question or comment that is asked.

To illustrate this, an example from Sol Stein. A man tries to hook up with a woman at a party:

He: You are the most beautiful woman in the whole world.
You: Oh, thank you very much. (2)

That would be a natural real life answer. Boring is not it? Quite different with an indirect reply:

He: You are the most beautiful woman in the whole world.
You: May I introduce my husband to you? (3)

Something happened here in dialogue. The man has been fired for the time being. But who knows what will develop between the two of them ... Something has to develop, otherwise the dialogue would have no function and it would be better to leave it out entirely.

(2, 3) Sol Stein: On Writing, p. 171, Two Thousand One, 1997.

4. Dialogue gives your characters a profile.

No one speaks like the other. Use verbatim speech to characterize your characters. A grammatical weakness, slang, dialect, sloppy pronunciation, little sarcasms and language quirks give your characters a profile and bring them to life. But be extremely careful with these stylistic devices. Particularly when using dialect colors and dialect, caution is advised. Here less is more. Hints are enough ...

5. Dialogue conveys information

Nothing is more boring than telling the reader a story instead of telling it. Of course, from time to time the reader will need information relevant to the progress of the story. Imagine at some point in your story about a 12 year old boy you had to explain the boy's history:

“Ron was adopted as a child at the age of 2. Little did he know that the Robsons were not his birth parents. So it hit him hard when he found out about it from a classmate at school one day at the age of 15. He was beside himself ... "

Instead of explaining, you could also use this information design scenic and let the reader participate directly in the boy's experience. You build z. B. Include a dialogue in which Ron confronts his adoptive mother:

I am not your son!
Who says that?
You lied to me for 13 years. Every fucking day of my life!

The facts can be conveyed in a dramatically pointed way. At the same time, the dialogue drives the action forward. How will the adoptive parents react now? What will ron do? Will he pack his things and leave home?

6. Inner monologue as a special form of dialogue

Self-talk and streams of thought are an excellent means of describing inner "psychological" processes. With the help of the inner monologue, the thoughts, fears and desires of a character are revealed to the reader. The inner monologue consists of direct speech, which is not spoken and therefore cannot be perceived by the other characters. The inner monologue is a very intimate "dialogue" between the literary figure and the reader. James Joyce uses this technique in his novel Ulysses.

"The language of dialogue is as difficult to learn as a foreign language" (1), claims Sol Stein. One could also say: the dialogue language is no more difficult to learn than a foreign language. Well-founded instructions and assistance in the art of dialogue writing are provided by the distance learning courses “Fiction”, “Novel Workshop” and “Great School of Writing”. You can get free information here.

(1) Sol Stein: On Writing, p. 165, Two Thousand One, 1997.