Before You Write, learn what your characters would and would not say.
1. Notice how often people speak in complete sentences. Don’t have your characters always speak using correct grammar and in complete sentences. Not everyone does.
2. Create conversations for people in different age groups. First create dialogue for people talking with peers — old to old, young to young, etc.
3. Then, create conversations for people of diverse age groups and from diverse backgrounds. Mix it up. Practice with mundane conversations and conversations with a bit more emotion. People speak differently when they are angry, happy, sad, etc.
4. The content of your dialogue is important too. Have your characters only say what they would really say to each other. Don’t allow your characters to tell each other things that they both already know. It’s never appropriate to use dialogue merely to convey information to your readers. Work that information into the story in some other way.
5. Make your dialogue interesting. Your writing always needs to move the story forward. This is especially true of dialogue. Your readers will lose interest if your characters talk on and on about mundane topics that don’t really enhance the forward movement of your story.
Practice, practice, practice is the best way to master dialogue. Try these techniques and we’ll add more later.
If you have a great technique that keeps you on track while writing dialogue, please share it in a comment.