"Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs."
Dialogue should be the simplest thing to write. After all, we spend the greater part of our lives listening to people speak, ramble, argue, whisper, and scream. We listen to them in real life, on television, in movies. Strangers and friends and family. We converse. We eavesdrop. We use our own voices.
So why is writing dialogue so hard?
Because we don’t write like we speak. We hear dialogue differently than we read it. Here’s the test: pick your favorite television show, one that has kick-ass dialogue that brings the characters to life. Now go check out the transcript for that show. Read it, and try not to read it in the characters’ voices. Just read it dry, like it were dialogue in a novel.
Sounds terrible, right?
The truth is, we don’t want to write realistic dialogue at all. We want to write good dialogue—dialogue that reads as though it’s being spoken. And that doesn’t necessarily mean it sounds as though it is.
Since there are a plethora of awesome resources out there for writing solid dialogue (like The 7 Tools of Dialogue from WritersDigest), I'm going to focus on the one cardinal sin that great dialogue-writing tips can inadvertently lead writers into:
Overwriting Your Dialogue
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