TV Tropes Org

Forums

search forum titles
google site search
Total posts: [16]
1

How do I write convincing dialogue?:

 1 Age And Youth, Sun, 18th Dec '11 12:20:30 AM from Floppy Coppying HQ
It really was, though
I don't really worry too much about actions that characters take; I come from more of a film background and can 'storyboard' things in my head. I'm just having a problem writing believable dialogue in prose and balancing it with the action of what's going on in a scene. I'd like it to be natural, but still interesting.
He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
Rabid Fujoshi
What's an example of your current level of dialogue?
SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 3 nrjxll, Sun, 18th Dec '11 12:28:26 AM Relationship Status: Not war
The second-best advice I can offer is to try saying lines out loud and seeing if they sound like something a normal person would say. (Although this can be a problem when your characters aren't supposed to talk like normal people...)

The best advice I can offer: pay attention to how people talk in your everyday life. It sounds obvious, but it really does help.

Edit: And yes, a sample of your current level would help.

edited 18th Dec '11 12:29:01 AM by nrjxll

Are you trying to make your dialogue stylized or realistic?

One bit of advice I would offer in either case is to cut down on unnecessary information. Just as a close focus on someone's day will probably not include the minutiae of his breakfast cereal or a description of how he wipes his ass, a dialogue between two people need not include every word of the exchange that physically takes place. Be sparse - include only what is essential.
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
Rabid Fujoshi
Yes, dialogue has to seem natural but also be efficient. No one wants to read an hour long conversation about everyday stuff before finally getting to the part where something happens. You have to steer the conversation so that the things you want discussed lead into each other, but also make sure the lines are true to the characters.
SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
Fallen Paladin
I'm seconding what nrjxll said. Read all your dialogue out loud and see if it sounds natural (this works for me, and I've had similar problems in the past), and listen carefully to real world dialogue.
You always take us with you when you go
We're Having All The Fun
Do you talk to people on a regular basis? If yes, then you should at least have some idea of how people talk about certain things and can streamline that to being something readable. If what you write does not sound like something a person would say (Unless that is a characteristic of the character) in that situation, then you have probably fucked up.
All I do, is sit down at the computer, and start hittin' the keys. Getting them in the right order, that's the trick.
Um...
You especially don't want to make it sound like your characters are reading from a script. For instance, I make my characters stutter, interrupt one another, and sometimes just leave sentences hanging unfinished in the air. It depends on how realistic you want it to be, I'd say.

 9 Age And Youth, Sun, 18th Dec '11 9:25:21 AM from Floppy Coppying HQ
It really was, though
Something I'd write? Hm.

"So why Mom?" Matt asked, listlessly stirring his drink.

"Well, your mom was there, and she looked good-"

"Jesus, Dad! I don't want to hear that shit." He sighed heavily. "I meant, why did you stay with her after..."

"I slept with her?" Dan said. Matt shifted in his seat.

"...Yeah." Matt lifted his glass in the air in an attempt to look casual, more mature, more refined, and less like a son listening to the story of his conception.

Dan flashed a wry smile. "Well, you were there, and you looked good-"

"Dad." Matt stared at his father, and both men felt all pretense melt away. Dan tilted his glass back and felt the dark ale slide down his throat. He gulped, and stared off vacantly, carefully considering his next words.

"I loved you from the minute I brought you into this world." He paused, rubbing his thumb against the side of his hand. "How could I not love the woman that brought you into this world?"

edited 18th Dec '11 9:25:45 AM by AgeAndYouth

He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
 10 loganlocksley, Sun, 18th Dec '11 10:44:22 AM from On the ceiling
Occasionally Smart
I don't think there's anything wrong with your dialogue.
He's like fire and ice and rage. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time. Rory punched him in the face.
 11 USAF713, Sun, 18th Dec '11 10:59:49 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
"So, why Mom?" Matt asked, listlessly stirring his drink.

"Well, your mom was there, and she looked good—"

"Jesus, Dad! I don't want to hear that shit!" He sighed heavily. "I meant, why did you stay with her after..."

"After I slept with her?" Dan said. Matt shifted in his seat.

"...Yeah." Matt lifted his glass in the air in an attempt to look casual, more mature, more refined, and less like a son listening to the story of his conception.

Dan flashed a wry smile. "Well, you were there, and you looked good-"

"Dad." Matt stared at his father, and both men felt all pretense melt away. Dan tilted his glass back and felt the dark ale slide down his throat. He gulped, and stared off vacantly, carefully considering his next words.

"I loved you from the minute I brought you into this world." He paused, rubbing his thumb against the side of his hand. "How could I not love the woman that brought you into this world?"

Meh, except for the little grammatical/syntax things, this isn't particularly questionable at all, at least to me. I liked it, anyhow.

I am now known as Flyboy.
oh no the snack table
Read it out loud. Especially for arguments or yelling, any inappropriately-awkward (as opposed to realistically-awkward) dialogue is doubly obnoxious in those cases.

The only other thing you can do is to constantly listen to people around you.

Meh, except for the little grammatical/syntax things, this isn't particularly questionable at all, at least to me. I liked it, anyhow.

Remember, spoken grammar is rarely perfect, and it says something about a person's personality and mood if they're making an effort to speak perfectly.
It's beautiful and so full of deep imagery that it doesn't surprise me to find that it has gone WAY over your head
 13 USAF713, Sun, 18th Dec '11 12:30:04 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Oh, I know, I meant within the realm of realistic diction.

For example, I added "after" to that one line, because in my experience when most people trail off the other person, if they do finish the sentence, will repeat the last word said as the first word of their own statement/question/whatever.
I am now known as Flyboy.
That's not bad at all.

That said, I'm going to recommend reading The Friends of Eddie Coyle, just because it's an excellent book consisting mostly of excellent dialogue. It's short, and absolutely worth it.
 15 Age And Youth, Sun, 18th Dec '11 3:41:06 PM from Floppy Coppying HQ
It really was, though
I will look into that. Thanks.
He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
 16 Noir Grimoir, Sun, 18th Dec '11 4:25:54 PM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
The actual dialogue doesn't have anything wrong with it, though the 'shit' seemed a bit much to me personally. But I don't know, maybe he's the type of character that curses a lot.

edited 18th Dec '11 4:28:16 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.
Total posts: 16
1


TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy