One of the first books I wrote was basically dialogue, which my husband, being honest with me, said, “This is more like reading a script then a book.”
After I calmed myself down I realized he was right, the story was only line after line of dialogue from one character to the next with a vague description of a space ship and vicious aliens chasing after them.
Where were they when they stood around talking to each other? What noises did the ship make? What did the re-ventilated air smell like? Are there windows to see the stars? What were the characters doing while they were talking?
I didn’t answer one of these questions.
For a while I debated script writing, after all I would love to see my characters come to life on the big screen! I love writing dialogue but somehow novels just seemed to fit me and what I wanted to write better. This is where I started reading how to way to books on writing novels and expand descriptions. I soon found myself reading more and more novels determined to discover the secret to creating an atmosphere and texture inside my story not just character voices.
Dialogue, I discovered, is a great way to show and not tell your readers what is going on but the scenes still need to be set. A book isn’t much good if your readers have no idea what the characters are doing and where they are. The book has no ambiance.
Internal dialogue is a great way to show readers who your characters are and what is important to them. But keep in mind that characters talk to one another. Especially in writing romance, we are adults and adults talk to one another not behind each other’s back, at least not all the time ;). If the characters are not talking about their issues what is the reason? Does he not trust the other character? If they don’t trust each other how can we be convinced they are really falling in love? The main characters need to solve their problems together and just like in real life most of the conflicts can be solved with communication.
Starting to write dialogue…the best way to start is listening to the people around you. One of my favorite exercises is to people watch, listen to what they say and how the say it. Just like the people we meet in life, every characters voice should be different.
I also like comparing author’s voices, no two authors sound alike. Readers will argue which authors have the best dialogue and voice but the truth is the best dialogue is in the eye of the beholder.
Speak from the heart, find your voice, and keep writing!