Conversation versus Dialogue

dialogue conversationThe draft novel is written with the final words “The End” displayed on the last page. The easy part accomplished, and the work to get it suitable for publication is undertaken.

Scene 1 introduces the characters and sets up the coming conflict. The hook set to keep readers reading. Confidence grows.

Scene 2 brings in the supporting characters. The narrative reads well. Confidence remains positive.

Conversation versus Dialogue

Scene 2.5 has several characters together. This scene is sparse on narrative, relying on the characters interacting via dialogue. The writer spits out lines for Character A. Then come some for Character B. The two exchange lines for nearly two pages before Character B leaves in a huff. Character A spends several sentences of internal narrative before Scene 3 starts.

Reading the scene’s revisions, something is off. What might it be?

Scene 1 had received several small word changes. Scene 2 starts well, but Scene 2.5 rubs wrong. There is little narrative, but the characters have plenty to say. There is no zing in the conversation. Character B’s response to what Character A says is artificial, as is A’s to B’s.

Ah, the problem is a conversation is not dialogue. At least, not in a novel where the reader can act as Character B, and leave. Conversation masked as dialogue is boring and can fail to move the story forward.

What makes good dialogue?

There are many craft books dedicated to the subject. These are some that I own and read and have reread:

Writing Great Fiction-Dialogue by Gloria Kempton,

Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 3) by Marcy Kennedy, and

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript by James Scott Bell.

What are your thoughts on what makes good dialogue? Use the comment form to let me know.


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