Today I would like to start off by pointing you to an article on dialogue from The Guardian. It is about the brilliance of Jane Austen’s dialogue in her novels.
It has been said that one of the best ways to improve your manuscript is to improve the dialogue. Two of the books I’ve read are How To Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell and A Busy Writer’s Guide to Dialogue by Marcy Kennedy.
Write what feels natural to you. How many people actually talk with perfect grammar? Very few. A lot of people use slang, curse, or say stuff like ain’t or I busted my arm.
A note on cursing and using foul language, use it sparingly if at all. In the James Scott Bell book on dialogue he mentioned that some writers have said that their book is a crime story so it would make sense to have swearing in it. While this may be true, Bell mentions the TV show Law And Order – very few if any curse words in it. If you watched The Sopranos there were curse words every thirty seconds almost. Law And Order lasted twice as long on TV as did The Sopranos.
Know the speech patterns of where you are setting your story. On a recent trip to Indianapolis we were at a restaurant and when the waitress served us out food she would say, “You was the chicken,” as opposed to “You were the chicken.” Now if I want to set a story in that area I have an idea as to how people there talk.
Know the current slang. Or hang out with people much younger than you, assuming you are over thirty. In my days of youth we would say stuff like, that’s awesome. The last I heard was young people (teens and early twenties) saying that’s sick. Both meaning the same thing. Before that it was, that’s the bomb. Of course today there’s probably a new expression.
That’s ir for today, make it a great one.