The importance of real dialogue is only one – but vital – aspect of fiction writing. It’s one thing to draw the reader into the geographic region, dialect, and time frame for your story, but quite another to go overboard.
What does that mean?
It means being real in regard to development of dialogue. Let’s say you’re fiction manuscript takes place in America (past or present). When it comes to dialogue, suggesting a twang, drawl, or any regional diction or way of speaking can be achieved with hints early on – without having to carry it through the entire manuscript.
For example, most of us are familiar with regional accents whether it’s Bostonian, Southern, or Texan. Merely mentioning a geographical background and offering a mere hint or two regarding an “accent” is adequate to set the tone of dialog.
In most cases, an author doesn’t have to write dialect as it’s spoken whether it’s urban, ghetto, historical, or regional in regard to time/location/place.
Can you imagine reading an entire book encumbered with dialogue like this?
“Och, ye nae canna do that wi’ the bathwater, lass. Do ye nae ken how da to it right?”
“Well, howdy, little lady. How abouts we go fer a ride over yonder. I reckon y’all know how to ride, don’t ‘cha? Nah? All right, then how ‘bout a wagon ride? Ya been movin’ awful slow since ya hurt yer leg, ain’t ‘cha?
After about two pages, such written dialect becomes not only cumbersome, but annoying. Instead, suggest that a character is from Boston, Texas, or Georgia. The reader is perfectly capable of imagining the sound of the character’s accent without you having to actually write it out that way.
Avoid overuse of adverbs in dialogue
Stilted, unrealistic dialogue also involves unnecessary use of adverbs. Beginning authors often make the mistake of inserting overused adverbs to emphasize how dialogue is spoken. For example:
“I’m running out of gas,” he said suddenly.
“Maybe there’s a gas station in the next couple of blocks,” his companion replied hopefully.
Instead, use words or even action verbs to convey emotion, tone, and attitude. Even better, use them sparingly. In most cases, less is more. If done properly, your efforts will be greatly appreciated by your readers.
Keep your dialog real. Your readers will appreciate it.