Have you ever read a book that just dragged horribly? How about a novel that captivated you at first, but seemed to hit a wall a few chapters in? Chances are they relied primarily on narration to tell their stories. While techniques for writing appealing narrative abound, Dr. Kristi Siegel reminds writers of the importance of the old phrase, “Show. Don’t tell.” Incorporating effective dialogue into your writing keeps it from becoming too heavy by allowing the tale to “breathe.” It also provides opportunities to develop the personality of your characters.
Yet, as writer Ann Victor points out, writing dialogue and writing effective dialogue are two vastly different tasks. On her blog she explores the four main categories of dialogue: directed, misdirected, interpolated and modulated. Most writers gravitate toward one particular type of written speech, but Victor stresses the importance of using the category which will best further the plot of the story or reveal something about the story or characters. For example, while I incline toward interpolated dialogue, I sometimes decide that my story needs the forward force of directed dialogue in order to carry my point most efficiently. Whatever kind of dialogue you choose to implement, Dr. Siegel brings up perhaps the most important point of all. Listen. Just as an artist studies light or facial structure wherever he goes, so writers need to keep their ears open to the speech that flows around them. Dialogue consists of nothing more than normal conversation — we just need to write it down.