10 Tips on Writing Dialogue

Rowena Macdonalod
Rowena Macdonald / by Martin Fuller

Fiction writer Rowena Macdonald says she finds writing dialogue much easier than constructing a plot—because, as she says, dialogue is all around us in real life, whereas strong fiction plots are not. She then offers 10 tips for solid dialogue. My favorites:

  • “Don’t write out ums and ers. They are realistic, but they look cartoonish in a piece of literature. Instead, use ellipses to give the impression of pauses or uncertainty.”
  • “If writing dialogue for a character with a specific accent, don’t write it out phonetically, as this can look patronizing and old-fashioned. Use odd syntax and a few choice bits of slang to convey their accent.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to let conversations hang unresolved in mid-air and move on to another scene.”

Read more dialogue tips here from Macdonald—plus check out these other pieces from this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin:

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