Dialogue is like any other part of your story. It needs to move your story forward. It needs to be a part of tight writing.
It also helps reveal your characters’ character and allows a deeper connection between the character and reader.
So, what are five of the top tips to writing dialogue?
- Your dialogue must have a purpose.
As a children’s writer, I listen to how children talk. Having three grandsons, 3, 11, and 14, I know that a lot of what’s said is nonessential or fluff. And depending on the child, there could be a lot of goofing around and teasing (more fluff).
Your job as a writer is to choose dialogue that’s essential to the story and leave the fluff out.
Although, if you’re writing a silly story for kids then the ‘goofing’ around talk may be essential.
But overall, keep it lean and purposeful.
- Work on making your dialogue specific to the character.
What this means is that children each speak with a different tone. They use different words.
One may use ‘awesome’ for everything: “That pizza was awesome.”
Another may use “outstanding.”
Along with this how they talk is important. One character may have a gruff personality. That will come out in his dialogue also:
“Hey, didn’t I tell you to bring me some of. Thanks for nothing.”
Another character may have a sweet personality which will be reflected in her dialogue:
“Oh, I thought you were going to bring me some of that. I guess you forgot.”
So, from the words used and from the tone, you can distinguish your characters from one another to the reader.
Using this strategy will allow you to eliminate dialogue tags in some instances.
- A key factor of dialogue is the relationships between the characters.
How a boy talks to his brother will be different than how he talks to a girl, especially one he likes.
An example of this is:
Lucas glared at his brother. “Get out of my way.”
“Excuse me, Stacy. I need to get over there.”
Quite a difference, right.
The same goes for girls. How a girl talks to her mother will be different than how she’ll talk to her friend. How she talks to a brother will be different than how she speaks to her father.
Think about how you speak to the different people in your life. How I talk to my fourteen-year-old grandson is a lot different than how I talk to my three-year-old grandson.
Relationships are an important element when writing dialogue. Take into account who the character is talking to.
- Use tags correctly.
This is kind of basic, but use proper tags for dialogue.
The basic tags are “said” and “asked.” There are also other tags that you can use sparingly. They include:
As a children’s ghostwriter, I’ve gotten drafts from clients who use dialogue tags like, ‘laughed’ and ‘gasped.’
When writing your dialogue think about the tags.
You can’t ‘laugh’ dialogue and you can’t ‘gasp’ dialogue.
- Use physical action rather than ‘said.’
If you can show who’s talking by using a gesture or motion it will add more to the scene and allow you to lose the tag.
Here’s two examples:
Anthony kicked the dirt. “I’m mad!”
Julia brushed her hair off her shoulder. “I told him not to do that.”
Using ‘action tags’ allows you to break things up. It avoids the monotony of using ‘said’ all the time.
I hope these tips help you write stronger dialogue.
Whether you need ghostwriting or rewriting, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700
Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!
Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN.
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