Saturday, May 20, 2017

#550 : D - Dialogue Writing

Communication is the key to winning it all. Talking and writing about a person talking are two entirely different things or so I learnt lately. When you are in conversation in person, you tend to employ gestures, modulate pitching and tones to convey the message. Your whole body along with your mind transpires to get across the message in a perfect way. In spite of such rich transfer of information, there at times when such in person communications are interpreted in a wrong manner. Imagine the difficulty of having to write a conversation without having various rich information transferring tools at disposal.


When I started out writing the first chapter of the book I'm working on, I had to plan in detail before attempting to write a conversation. I picked up some pointers by going through writing material available on MIT eDX MOOC.

  1. Knowing the goal of the conversation is very important.  Normally, a conversation would either narrate a backstory or some kind of an emotion, primarily attachment/detachment, or it would be used to convey some critical information.

  2. If the dialogue scripted doesn't fit into the above mentioned categories, it is more often than not, a simple filler. Such fillers may be crucial at times or aren't simply needed at all.  You ought to either have a good judgement of the flow or a good editor who won't hesitate to chop of unnecessary fillers.

  3. Using dialogue to repeat what the reader already knows from the narrative is a blunder. Instead, dialogues can be effectively used to build new elements or explain relationships, or develop complex emotions.

In a attempt to understand dialogue writing a bit, my friend recommended that I go through scripts of movies, especially that of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. I read a part of the script before watching the movie. The movie was a tad too violent for my taste.  One that apparent was the script writer had obviously done his job extremely well. The actors were mere puppets to the screenplay. Black comedy is not a genre suitable for all!

What are your thoughts on dialogue writing!



  1. Good post Janani. Maybe I should introspect where I am heading with respect to dialogue writing. I write mostly in the first person, so there is less need for dialogues. But I will keep these points in mind.

    In fact, once I read about dialogue writing. The post mentioned that any dialogue should either push the story forward (or maybe back, in the case of a backstory) or introduce more things about a character. It made a lot of sense to me, at that time. But I am not sure, how much I am following it.

    Personally, if you ask how I write my dialogues, I just write with the flow. I don't think a lot about dialogue writing and I definitely don't plan a scene. Most of it comes naturally. So, maybe you can give some feedback about what you think about my dialogues when you get time.

  2. Given that you write in first person, your dialogues can't possibly become a filler. The natural flow is better when you write in first person. I tend use the third person narrative a lot. That's when you have to think our a scene before you write. That's where I get stuck and takes me quite some time to get out of that rut every single time I attempt something

  3. Hmmm. True. Even I get stuck sometimes to write the apt dialogue when I use the third person narrative. Not sure, how much you rewrote for your first story that you shared. But all the dialogues were really good.

  4. Just a little bit! Had to change a bit of the narrative.