Few storytelling elements in a novel are as powerful as dialogue. Writing good dialogue is a crucial way of letting characters speak for themselves outside of the narrative voice, and it’s one of the best ways of conveying personality and flavor.
And, as with any powerful device, it can be abused. Over-use of dialogue has become really rampant in the manuscripts I see. I constantly see authors contorting their novels to shoehorn everything into dialogue because they haven’t yet mastered other storytelling techniques.
Dialogue cannot be everything, and, in fact, it’s almost always best when it’s used judiciously. Even novels that appear at first blush to be almost entirely dialogue are clever in the way they weave in other crucial storytelling elements, particularly motivations, physical description, inner thought processes, and context and exposition.
Here are some tips for utilizing dialogue effectively.