No matter what your genre, learning how to write dialogue effectively is a vital part of any writer’s education. Poor dialogue can make readers put your book down in disgust — but great dialogue can transform your characters into truly believable people, and your readers into satisfied customers.
Of course, the best kind of dialogue isn’t just believable. It also provides exposition, involves distinct language depending on who’s speaking, and — perhaps most crucially — moves the story along. Without dialogue, you’d just have pages and pages of description with barely any character dynamics or interpersonal drama. How boring would that be?
Because dialogue is one of the essential components of strong writing, we want to help you get it exactly right. To that end, we’ve put together this list of rules that will have you writing sparkling conversation in no time! We’ll also cover how to format and punctuate dialogue, for those who aren’t sure exactly what goes where.
If you’re especially curious about formatting, go ahead and skip to #10 using the table of contents on the left — otherwise, let’s jump right in with dialogue rule #1.