Other Cool Blogs: 6 Ways You’re Botching Your Dialogue

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On June 5, 2013 writing for Litreactor.com (has changed to a pay-per-view around 2/28/2023), Robbie Blair encapsulated the perfect advice for adding energy to dialogue. Why is dialogue so important? Dialogue is where character development meets action. Capturing the way the characters speak metamorphosizes the perfectly dressed poseable dolls sculptured with words into believable people.

Dialogue is where character development meets action.

Every single one of the “6 Ways You’re Botching Your Dialogue” are ones I have bounced slushes on, corrected authors on while editing, commented on during reviews, AND needed to fix in my own writing. See the whole article here:  (link no longer working as of 2/24/2023).

WRITING EXERCISE: Go to your work in-progress (WIP) and pick out a dialogue scene. Use at least one of the six comments to attack the dialogue and make it better – adjust a character’s speech to match their education and background, show hierarchy by who is polite to whom, kill the clones.


You can see some of these techniques in action in two recent pieces on the blog, Old Dragon and Small Fiddle.

In Old Dragon, the dialogue reveals much about each character. From the disrespect of the young man addressing the town elder as “grandpa”, to the simple words of the child listening in the audience. The POV character is a master storyteller and his words have a pace to them the others lack, but he speaks differently to each person and when in storytelling mode.

In Small Fiddle, the main character is addressed differently by several people in chapter one. Olivia is formal, but adult familiar, addressing the POV as “Rebecca”. That woman’s voice is haughty and cutting. Meanwhile, Paulie, the short order cook, calls her “Becca” while his daughters address the adult as “Mrs. Hurt.” All three of the food truck workers are polite to the customer with just the right touch of friendly for repeat business.

How Rebecca talks to the other people around her changes based on her relationships with them as well. Finally linear dialogue is avoided because Rebecca is actively trying to derail Olivia’s self-righteous gossip-mongering.