Writer’s Craft # 121 Realistic dialogue
Sonnet was born at the John Radcliffe in Oxford and spent the first six years of her life living in the town of Abingdon close to both her grandparents and most of the rest of her family. She moved after that to Cornwall for three years and then to Devon for another three before moving to where she has lived for the last fourteen or so years. Sonnet now lives in Worcester, Worcestershire, famous for Lea & Perrin’s Sauce and as the site for the last battle of the Civil War. Sonnet has had a passion for the written word from a very young age and enjoys nothing more than to read a good book. The worlds created by words.
I always think the best way to have believable dialogue is to sit in a crowded room and listen to how people talk. To make a character sound real, they have to talk like a real person. You have to learn to ignore some of the little wavy lines that will appear under your words when typing.
There are certain things that make dialogue more realistic. Most people don’t speak in complete sentences all the time and they don’t use perfect English. Human beings use slang, we drop letters, and we have regional accents. Try to include all of these foibles when writing your dialogue. The internet is a never ending tool for this. You can google and find whole dictionaries dedicated to the differences in a common language. The Urban Dictionary is a site in particular, which records and defines slang terms. People call the same object different things, find these words and use them in your writing.
Dialogue can be used to define the class of a person before you know anything else about them. A man for instance on a busy railway station in Victorian London greets another with “’ello guvnor.” You can hear two things immediately from this sentence, that the man himself is probably working class and the person he is addressing is probably viewed to be of a higher status that him. He wouldn’t say for instance “Good evening my fine fellow.” Well, he might, if he were taking the mickey but that is something that would be conveyed in the prose after his speech.
Talking is a fundamental tool in conveying information, emotion and personality in writing. If it feels stiff to you then it will probably sound stiff to your readers.