Five Ways To Improve Your Character’s Voice and Dialogue

If you haven’t been following my blog, a few posts ago I mentioned my blog series focusing on character development for your novel.

If you missed the previous posts, you can find click on them here –

Backstory and Motivations

Below is the next post for my blog series on character development, ‘FiveWays to Improve your Character’s Voice and Dialogue.

Dialogue makes characters come to life and keeps readers turning pages.

I believe improving your character’s dialogue will make your novel stand-out. After all, dialogue reveals character, moves the plot forward, shows backstory, and exposes relationships.

Remember, if the dialogue doesn’t advance the plot, give insight into character, or show relationships between characters, it should be deleted. If you keep this principle in mind, you will be well on your way to improved dialogue.

However, if you think your characters voice and the dialogue in your novel need some edits – read below.

1. Each character needs a unique voice

Every person has a way of talking, word choices, and ticks that make their speech unique. Your characters need to have these speech patterns too. Without using a dialogue tag, a reader should be able to figure out who’s talking because they recognize their voice. Of course, you’ll still use ID tags when needed, but that’s what you should aim for—giving each character an identifiably unique voice. It will go a long way toward making these characters feel real.

Think of real life. If a botanist walks through a forest, they will notice the banksia integrifolia and the acacia mangium whereas an accountant would see them as different plants.

In your novel, the specific detail in the same object can give them a unique voice and a difference between the other characters.

2. Body language is communication too

It’s useful to think of writing dialogue in a novel like blocking a scene for a play. What are the characters doing during this conversation? Are they saying what they’re thinking? What is the subtext? The subtext is in body language.

Think about two characters who are attracted to the other, but for one reason or another don’t want to admit it. They could be having a run-of-the-mill conversation, but there’s suspense because of their heightened sexual tension. Add this in for a richer scene.

3. Less is more

You show the parts of life that are relevant to the story, and so it should go for your characters’ conversations. There’s no need for unnecessary salutations, small talk, or irrelevant information. If your characters are talking, it should be in advance of moving the story forward.

Like I said, most people enjoy reading dialogue because it moves quickly. However, don’t forget that you’re writing a novel, not a play. Use narration to tell the story too. Use dialogue when it’s needed—when it will show relationships or reveal character or plot the way no other tool will.

Remove the small talk and have your characters say what they need to say and close it out. As with all good things, you don’t want it to run on too long to the point of being repetitive and boring.

4. Avoid Info Dumps

Dialogue is not the time to dump info. It’s the time to reveal information or move the plot forward.

If there is knowledge between both characters, then you probably want to tell the reader about it in the narration.

5. Read it out loud

To ensure that your dialogue hits all the marks sounds natural and has distinct voices, try reading it out loud. Usually, that will help you hear where a turn of phrase or a part of it sounds cheesy or awkward.

If it does, try rewriting. Also, see if that part would work better as narration.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll improve dialogue in no time!

Stay tuned for my next post about character development. If you want to read the last post, click here.

Until then, make sure you post your questions, comments or/ and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view, questions or an answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DouglasWTSmith #characterdevelopment

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