Writing Dialogue: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Writing dialogue is very different from how we speak it in real life. We don’t need to show the reader all the ‘Hi, how are you?’ We need to be more direct and concise. There are rules about writing and formatting dialogue, and I have included information about these below, but there are also other things to consider such as using the dialogue to show the reader your characters, driving momentum, and using action beats. I have put together some articles and podcasts that I hope you will find useful.

  1. Writing Dialogue In Fiction: 7 Easy Steps – Jericho Writers

Speech gives life to stories. It breaks up long pages of action and description, gives us an insight into a character, and moves the action along. This article from Jericho Writers guides you through 7 simple steps for keeping your fictional chat fresh, relevant, and tight. These steps include avoiding unnecessary words, hitting beats and driving momentum, using dialogue to reveal character dynamics and emotion, and being careful with accents. Each rule is explained with examples. This is a very useful article.

  1. How to Write Dialogue: 7 Steps for Great Conversation | Now Novel

Writing gripping conversations that include conflict and disagreement, and further your story will make readers want to read on. Now Novel shares 7 steps to writing better dialogue, including how to format dialogue, invoking the characters’ goals, fears, and desires, including subtext for subtle gestures and effects, and involving context for tone and atmosphere. The article expands on each step with clear examples.

  1. How to Write Dialogue: Formatting, Examples, & Tips (self-publishingschool.com)

Self-Publishing School discusses some of the common and universal rules for writing dialogue in any genre. They might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how many we get wrong. This article shows the writer the nitty gritty rules around writing dialogue and then moves on to discuss creating dialogue that’s realistic and effective. The article shares questions to ask yourself about your dialogue. It advises you to get rid of the small talk. Keep it brief and impactful- cut out everything that doesn’t immediately impact the scene. Give each character a unique way of speaking and be consistent with their voices. Self-publishing School also shares common dialogue mistakes to avoid including, using a person’s name repeatedly, and info dumping through dialogue.

  1. How to Write Dialogue: 7 Great Tips for Writers (With Examples) (prowritingaid.com)

Great dialogue serves multiple purposes. It moves your plot forward. It develops your characters, and it makes the story more engaging. Like other articles I’ve shared, Prowriting Aid covers dialogue rules and how to format dialogue, before moving on to the more nuanced aspects of writing dialogue. These include creating character voices, writing realistic dialogue, simplifying your dialogue tags, balancing speech with action, writing conversations as the subtext, and showing, not telling. Examples from successful novels are shared that demonstrate each of the seven tips.

  1. How to Write Fabulous Dialogue [9 Tips + Examples] (reedsy.com)

This article from Reedsy tells us that writing dialogue is not just about quippy lines and dramatic pauses. It’s about propelling the story forward, pulling the reader along, and flashing out characters and their dynamics right in front of the readers. It shares 9 steps to writing great dialogue including, keeping to three dialogue beats, using action beats, adding variety to your dialogue scenes, and avoiding excessive exposition. Each step is demonstrated with examples. The article tells the writer that while writing dialogue can be intimidating, you shouldn’t let it stop you from including it in your work. The more you practise, the better you’ll get.


  1. Writing Fiction. Improve Your Dialogue With James Scott Bell. Podcast Episode 190 | The Creative Penn

In this podcast episode from The Creative Penn, they discuss why dialogue is so important, how to learn about dialogue by listening and other techniques, weaving action into dialogue, and being aware of stereotypes in characters.

  1. 19 Ways to Write Better Dialogue — Well-Storied.

The Well-Storied podcast shares nineteen steps for writing better dialogue, beginning with ten tips for crafting richer, more nuanced conversations.

  1. Episode 2 – Dialogue (castos.com)

This episode from The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt shares practical, accessible advice on using dialogue to develop character, build tension and progress the plot of your story.

Dialogue in your story must earn its place. It must have a purpose for being there and push your story forward. When revising your dialogue ask yourself why it is there. Is it really necessary? As I mentioned earlier, dialogue in stories is not quite the same as in real life. We need to get to the point quicker and get on with the story, while at the same time sounding natural. Reading your dialogue out loud is one of the most effective ways to tell if it sounds realistic. Look at sections of dialogue in your story and practise rewriting them with the tips and advice shared in this week’s column. I hope you have found this column on writing dialogue useful. As always, if there are any topics you would like me to cover, please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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