Writing Effective Dialogues: 7 Core Mistakes You Should Avoid

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Schools and colleges are heavy on writing assignments. As you progress in your academic path, these assignments get more complicated, and handling them becomes even more difficult. These days, academic writing gets much tougher than writing a simple one-page essay. Students of different majors, especially literature or screenwriting, can be assigned more creative tasks, such as writing dialogue. And that’s where it gets especially challenging.

If you were assigned to write dialogue, it could feel rather frustrating. The good news is that you can get help with my assignment and delegate the task to a professional writing service. However, if you want to figure it all out yourself, we asked an experienced writer from one of such services to share seven things you should avoid when writing dialogue.

1. Not Involving a Purpose

Whether you are writing an alone-standing dialogue for an assignment or working on it as a part of a larger literary piece, the very first mistake to avoid is not hiding any ulterior motive in it. In literature, dialogue should never appear as just small talk. It should always have a purpose. Even if a specific conversation doesn’t add any informative value, it should still progress your characters’ agenda and have a motive behind it.

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2. Making It Stilted

The second major mistake made in dialogue writing is making it sound unnatural. Though it sounds like an obvious mistake to avoid, still, many beginners tend to overlook it. Here is a tip to change this – once you finish writing your dialogue, take some time to read it out loud and listen to how it sounds. Your goal is to make it sound as natural and conversation-like as possible. Additionally, you can get help with proofreading your piece from writing services and their qualified writers. You can start by checking out these Essay Pro reviews to find a good service.

3. Relying on Dialogue Tags Too Much

Many beginners feel like adding tons of word variety is a sure way to spice up their dialogues. As a result, you can see their characters yell, mumble, whisper, exclaim, and do whatever else instead of just saying something. Although it is a common practice to add such word variety into dialogues, it really shouldn’t be something you focus on. Thinking that dialogue tags are there to sell an emotion is a big mistake. Instead, they should be used to clarify which character is speaking. And you should let your readers know how the characters feel at the moment of talking through the tone, deeds, decisions, etc.

4. Not Diversifying Character Voices

Every person has a unique voice. That’s a fact. Then why should your characters all have similar ones? The short answer is that they shouldn’t, and this is another big mistake made in dialogue writing. When there are two or more characters talking, you have to give them distinct voices to help readers see their uniqueness. If you are wondering how to do this, focus on the pattern of speech and vocabulary. You will be surprised by how much these two things can uncover your character’s level of self-awareness, education, age, and other personal traits.

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5. Using Names Too Often in Dialogues

Think about your most recent real-life conversations. How often do you repeat a person’s name when talking to them? It is quite unnatural for people to say one another’s names often during a conversation. Therefore, using them in written dialogues too often is also a mistake. You can include a character’s name in the direct speech only when there is a need to make a point or attract their attention. In other cases, it is better to leave characters’ names out of your dialogues to make them sound natural.

6. Not Keeping Dialogue Punctuation Consistent

There are many different types of dialogue punctuation. You can use single or double quotation marks, dashes, or increase the indentation of your dialogue lines to emphasize that it is a conversation. The punctuation of your dialogues is completely up to you, meaning you can format it however you like. But once you pick the format, you have to stick to it! Not being consistent with your punctuation is never a good idea.

7. Too Much Talk

Sometimes, trying to write brilliant dialogues, inexperienced writers opt for long and entangled phrases. And this is also a mistake. You can write a very detailed and complex sentence, and it won’t have any effect on the reader. But you can also keep your character’s lines a few words long, and it will have a much more powerful impact.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are a college student struggling with a complex writing task or an aspiring writer who doesn’t know what they are doing yet, writing dialogues can be a hell of a challenge. But though it is hard to handle, there are ways to hone your skills and get better at it. And the first thing you need to do is define the key mistakes that should be avoided.

You can take your dialogue to the next level by working with expert short story editors.

Hopefully, this article gives you a better idea of what you shouldn’t do when writing dialogue. So, use this knowledge to write like a pro!