Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout?!

So I’m reading this book right now. Well, I’m reading several books right now, but I’m talking about one in particular. I like the concept well enough, but the dialogue is so stilted it hurts. I feel like I’m getting poked in the eye with weird, starchy words.

So can you guess what the writing prompt is going to be about today?


Write a bare-bones dialogue, with just enough markers to know who’s talking and what’s going on. Sit back and see if you can read it aloud like you’re having a conversation in a friend. In fact, go get a friend, strap her to a chair if necessary, and read it back and forth. Make necessary revisions until you don’t sound like a snooty Victorian. (Unless, of course, your character is a snooty Victorian.)



  1. Ugh. I hate writing dialogue. For some people, it comes so easy and it seems so natural. I try to listen to my co-workers converse and make my dialogue sound similar in tempo and rhythm. But it isn’t easy. Which is why I read every single part of my book out loud to myself during the editing phase. It helps immensely, but I’m still never sure how my dialogue is. My beta-readers say it’s fine, but they’re not the most helpful. Sigh. I’m terribly afraid snooty Victorian is how my characters sound. I hope not.

    • Dialogue is a tricky balance, because you it can’t be too real (e.g. weird spellings that reflect pronunciation, incessant filler words and pauses, etc.) or too fake. And then you throw in the fact that different characters have different levels of formality and style, and it’s just hard. But I’ve found that reading aloud is the biggest help, just because it’s easier to feel the rhythm of speech than to just see it on the page.

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