Favorite writing advice:
“You want to learn to write great dialogue? Study great plays.”
Who said it:
Carson Grace Becker, drama & story professor and playwright
Writing good dialogue truly is a skill. It takes practice and listening to get the characters on the page to sound like real people talking & not figments of your imagination. There’s nothing that will drag your reader out of a story quicker than having stilted dialogue that no one believes. If the whole point of writing is to foster a connection with your reader, well, then you need to have dialogue that sounds authentic. Studying playwrights can teach you dialect and slang and how to make your characters come alive with their own voices. Playwrights mainly write dialogue, and you can learn from them if you’ll take the time.
How it changed my writing:
For starters, I studied some of the greats:
- A Raisin in the Sun
- Glengarry Glen Ross
- Death of a Salesman
- Buried Child
Reading pretty much nothing but dialogue taught me the rhythm of language on the page. It showed me how conversation should flow between characters. It taught me how to use dialogue to move the story along and add to plot/character development. It helped me connect with my characters and figure out who they were as people so that eventually instead of talking just to me on the page, they actually started talking to each other while I just wrote it down. If you let your characters be themselves and study a master playwright to help you write it down better on the page, I promise you that your dialogue will sound true. And that, IMO, will make your readers believe.
So do you read plays?