Most of us read books because we love to escape (temporarily) from reality and immerse ourselves in alternate worlds inhabited by colorful, interesting characters whose lives are much more exciting than our own. That’s certainly why I read! However, while the lives these characters lead might be less than realistic, it’s important (to me, at least) that their dialogue is realistic.
When I read a book with dialogue that doesn’t ring true, instead of getting sucked into the story I find myself thinking, “Who talks like that? No one would say that.” And as I’ve said a million times in this blog, you want your readers focused on the story, not on the problems with your writing.
(Note: I’m referring to contemporary fiction, not tales of dystopian societies, intergalactic wars, or Downton Abbey-type romances. If you’re writing any of the above, may the conversational Force be with you.)
A good way to avoid having unrealistic dialogue in your own writing is to read it out loud. This may sound a little corny, but I swear it works! I did it when I wrote my first novel, and over time I got the hang of crafting conversations that sound the way people actually talk. Now, “your dialogue is so realistic!” is one of the most common compliments I get from readers about my books.
You want to create strong, believable characters that your readers will care about, so take the time to give them lines that will allow that to happen. With every conversation you write, ask yourself “Does this sound believable?” That might seem daunting at first, but over time it will get easier. I promise. And it will be well worth the effort. Your readers–and your characters–will be grateful.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.