Monday, September 28, 2009

Rules of Dialogue

Good dialogue is essential to good fiction. Beginning writers should remember these rules when writing dialogue:

1. Each speech should be a separate paragraph.
2. Speeches should not be more than 3 or 4 sentences.
3. Use dialogue to lift up information, but not to tell the whole story.

The novelist Elizabeth Bowen's gives these rules for writing dialogue:

1. Dialogue should be brief.
2. It should add to the reader's present knowledge.
3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.
4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.
5. It should keep the story moving forward.
6. It should be revelatory to the speaker's character, both directly and indirectly.
7. It should show the relationships among people.


poetreader said...

I would add one more item: that the speakers should not sound too much like each other, neither should they sound like the narrator, but should each have an individual ring.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Good point! Each speaker should have a distinctive voice.