What It Means to Write Realistic Dialogue

Samsun Knight

If you’re writing a scene with dialogue, it can be tempting to have the conversation follow a very logical flow, what writer Samsun Knight describes as a “call and response” method. But that’s usually a mistake. When people talk to each other, they rarely answer each others questions directly, and non sequiturs are common. Knight says:

In reality, nobody ever talks to anyone else. What speech actually achieves is a communication between one person and that person’s idea of the other. Most of the time there is no difference, no discernible difference, between such verisimilitude and the truth. But the best dialogue will manifest this disparity in subtle, slender ways. It will show how, in speaking, we fail to speak.

Read more about Knight’s insights into realistic dialogue in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin.

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