Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

So I've decided to become an Author. Frankly I have respect for the learning curve. My biggest problem that I have run into thus far is the conversations between characters.

So I would like to ask this community for advice.

share|improve this question

closed as unclear what you're asking by Neil Fein May 19 '14 at 12:07

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Observe how people talk. Much literary dialogue suffers from real people not speaking that way. Read books and see how they handle dialogue. Write dialogue, let it rest for some time, then evaluate and rewrite it. Have people read it and give you feedback. Take their feedback serious (the reader is always right: if they don't get what they mean, they are not stupid, rather you need to work on your writing). – what May 19 '14 at 9:06
Hi, and welcome to Writers. Stack Exchange is not like other boards. We aren't a discussion board. We require clear, practical questions which have the potential to help others. As written, your question is too broad. What kind of problems are you having? Do the people sound stilted? Bookish? Can you post a short excerpt and point to three things you're struggling with? Also, please look under the dialogue tag on the site and see if any of the questions previously asked can help you. writers.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/dialogue – Lauren Ipsum May 19 '14 at 9:59
Could you explain, for instance, why you find dialog more difficult than narrative (as you apparently do)? That might help us answer your question. – Tom Au May 23 '14 at 22:20

It's the same advice as for everything in the writer's craft: Write a lot and fail a lot. Publish wherever, on amateur prose sites, listen to critique, and improve.

At first you'll keep writing crap. Then, for a long time you'll keep writing crap but gradually you'll start noticing where you're going wrong, and start improving. And finally, some five novels worth of text later, you'll start writing decently.

Remember, you'll never fix your mistakes without external feedback. Find some community editors/proofreaders to point your mistakes out to you (and next time you write, scan your own text for these, before submitting to editor!).

Dialogue is one of easier parts of writing. Absorb some rules that will make both your and your readers' life easier:

  • no less than one paragraph per speaker, usually exactly one paragraph per speaker.
  • actors don't float in void exchanging lines. Mix actions and emotes with the speech.
  • until you've mastered assigning voices to characters, try to keep dialogues between two persons. Getting a dialogue of 3 or more is tricky for a beginner.
  • Learn to give your characters some characteristic voices that make them distinguishable without tagging them in the dialogue. Don't overdo that, don't make them sound like some parodies.

You can try some exercises:

  • describe an object through dialogue: one person asks, the other describes. The object is never named, though it's something moderately common (think a medieval peasant describing a helicopter.)
  • write a whole dialogue in a description. Two people talk behind soundproof glass, describe them in such a way that the reader will know what they talk about.
  • sneak a message past a dialogue party. One party of the dialogue is deadly scared of something, but keeps that a secret from the other. Make it apparent to the reader while keeping the other party of the dialogue in the dark. Bonus points: never name the feeling.
  • sneak a message past the reader. Make a dialogue, in which the reader will never suspect one asked an entirely off-topic question, and the other answered; covering with idle chatter the two exchange secret info which becomes known only when explained later.
  • Have an entirely non-verbal dialogue. Not a single word spoken, only emotes, but the two come to an agreement, or otherwise.
  • try to write a dialogue between three or more parties, tagging them only in the beginning and never later, leaving the reader without doubt who speaks what. Bonus points: no fancy accents or very mannered speaking. All three have the same education and ethnic background.
  • A dialogue where one party never speaks. Specifically, not a monologue. Bonus points: make the speaker quite satisfied with the result.

...but the best way to get them to work is to interweave them as parts of your works, not separate pieces. Most of them can add quite a bit to the value of the story, when executed right. I'd say non-verbal dialogues are ones of the best. Then, of course, you will fail a lot - but that is expectable. Just keep trying.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.