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February 19, 2013
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Writer
I have hit a major wall in a story that I'm writing. My dialogue seems unrealistic and very choppy. I am wondering if anyone has some tips on how to write fluid dialogue. :aww:
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:iconchristiana-rink:
Christiana-Rink Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oddly enough, I've found watching youtube videos to be MOST helpful here! When people are recorded in a natural setting as opposed to a movie or an instructional video, you get a great look at word choice and body language. In fact, I just posted a snippet of dialogue from my in-progress novel on my blog. [link]
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Student Writer
I never even thought of doing such a thing, that is a great idea!
Thank you! It can't hurt to try. :hug:
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:iconchristiana-rink:
Christiana-Rink Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
not a problem, I am happy to help!
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Who gives a...?
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
Well, a few others people...but, I'm disregarding you.
Thank you for your time. :hug:
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
"Oh, my dialogue is unrealistic and choppy." Tell me when you have heard a conversation that was realistic and smooth. I will tell you where you have - in the movies.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
I completely understand that. It is just when the dialogue becomes too much or when it doesn't sound like an actual conversation. I'm working around the issue, reading and rereading my previous text to assure myself that it doesn't sound, well...too choppy or just bad dialogue. In this case the old cliche comes in handy, "practice makes perfect."
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'd have to look at it to know what is really wrong, but in the meantime don't be too hard on yourself. Dialogue is supposed to be natural, and there is such a thing as divine madness.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
Yes, yes there is. :hug:
Thank you very much and I understand that it is irritating to hear about such petty issues that entail common sense, but I just was hoping to get a correlation that might hold some cipher to a hidden chasm of literary knowledge or, you know just some positive advice. :stinkeye:
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:icondr-vergissmeinnicht:
Dr-Vergissmeinnicht Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Speak your dialogue out loud before you write it.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
Noted. :hug:
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:icondr-vergissmeinnicht:
Dr-Vergissmeinnicht Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
<3
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
Keep a notebook of observations. Go somewhere public and people-watch, eavesdrop on their conversations.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
An excellent idea. I'm going to take you up on that.
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:iconxamanthas:
Xamanthas Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Raven the most important point that hasn't been mentioned (i cant believe it), is after you write the dialogues, don't look at it for an hour and the reread the chapter out loud and see it flows or not. This not only helps with stories but with all written tasks, you wouldn't believe the changes ive made after rereading it after a break ^^;
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
Yes, I have done that before, but for the most part I don't seem to catch some flaws that may sound ridiculous!
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
If you're not catching those ridiculous flaws, how do you know they're there? ;-)

However it is you eventually find out about them--reading through months later, reading aloud, getting someone else to read the thing--do some more of that. It's guaranteed to work for you!

As an extra suggestion, I find text-to-speech to be helpful for all kinds of problems. Okay, it always sounds terrible, but it'll make the genuinely awful things a lot easier to spot. Talking heads, for example, turn into some kind of hideous robotic monologue: easy to miss on the page, but impossible to ignore when your computer is droning on at you.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Student Writer
You make a very good point! :blush:

What I meant to say is that I know its there but I'm not sure exactly what should be changed or even how to change it to make it more realistic.
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Student Writer
Ah, now that could be troublesome. I think some of the suggestions based around listening to real people (or maybe seeing how it's done well in other books) might be helpful, but personally I don't feel like dialogue is one of my strong points either. :shrug: Best of luck!
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Student Writer
Thank you! :hug:
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
Observation.  Research.

Listen to real people talk, that's the best place to start. The only trick to translating it is to remove verbal tics like "um" and so on.  Don't just listen to what they're saying, pay attention to the sound of the voices, the pauses, etc.  Look at the way they use their bodies or faces when they talk; this kind of stuff can fill in valuable details and help your story read less like a screenplay or something.

You can also watch TV and movies, the caveat being that it is more stylized.  But the stylization can also make it easier to pick up on the rhythms and also figure out how to cut out the dross.

And, like any other writing problem, you can also read.  Think of a writer you like who's especially good at dialogue.  What do they do that makes the dialogue seem fluid and natural.  Plays are equally good to read, though you'll want something more contemporary, not Shakespeare.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
Hey, thank you for the major help! :wave:

I'm going to take all the advice and see if I can notice a change in my writing.
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:iconshinomiyuukina:
ShinomiYuukina Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student General Artist
Since everyone here has stated that you should observe people talk (I wanted to post it too but it would be too redundant), there's another you should take note of. You should try to observe how you talk and how you engage with other people. By doing that, you can start being conscious of your own dialogues and you can speculate from there how your characters would speak based on their personalities.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
Oh, alright, I hadn't thought of that. Do you mean to observe their gestures and such?
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:iconshinomiyuukina:
ShinomiYuukina Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student General Artist
Yup. It would really help you a lot XD
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
:hug:
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:iconofonesoul:
OfOneSoul Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
All of the previous recommendations are basically what I was going to say. :paranoid:

But just be wary - dialogue often times makes it and breaks it with me and literature. So... no pressure. :iconwooooplz:
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
Haha, okay. There is no pressure... :cries:
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:iconsaoirse-07:
Saoirse-07 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
My writing professor taught me one of the golden rules of dialogue is to have the characters subtly talk around each other or to answer to the side of questions. A (probably crap but you get the point) example of this would be something along the lines of:

"Has the parcel arrived yet?"

"Deliveries aren't made on Sundays."

That's not the best example but it still demonstrates my point as the second person isn't directly answering the first but still answering the question... If you get what I mean.

Also, good dialogue is written as if the characters had 30 seconds to think about their answer - so keep that in mind. Another tip is to only include what is important - ask yourself; is this dialogue developing or at least showing the audience more of my characters? Is it moving the storyline along? etc, etc.

Hope this helped a bit :D Just keep practicing.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Student Writer
I understand where you are coming from, but I feel as if some conversations are simply unable to be beaten around the bush. Thank you so much for the advice. I'm going to put everything to work and see if it truly develops my writing. :aww:
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:iconsaoirse-07:
Saoirse-07 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well of course it depends on the subject matter and situation ^^ but good luck!
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
^^;
Thank you! :hug:
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:iconsaoirse-07:
Saoirse-07 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome :)
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:iconamayaells:
AmayaElls Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Me, my dad and my brother all answer questions like that. Basically we answer connected questions to answer the first one. It annoy my mum a huge amount.
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:iconsaoirse-07:
Saoirse-07 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Haha me too :P
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:iconamayaells:
AmayaElls Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
think its because we're the kind of people who start thinking about the why. We forget the quest was just a 'what' and answer the 'why" instead.
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:iconsaoirse-07:
Saoirse-07 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very true ^^
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Get the form, but not so much the content, of real conversations. You want them to sound real, but the conversations need to be interesting to the reader.

I'm just summing up what's already been said. :shifty:
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Writer
Yes, thank you! :tighthug:

Some can say in a few words that others need a paragraph, either way I greatly appreciate the feedback!
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:D
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013   Writer
eavesdrop.  constantly.  pay attention when people are talking to you.

i subconsciously learned the art of dialogue by years of watching Seinfeld.

how your character talks depends on who they are.  this is important.

take your time to master this aspect of the craft.  how do you know when you've mastered it?  you'll know.

i hate bad dialogue.  if characters are talking like they're full of crap or made out of wood, i will not continue on. 
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
i subconsciously learned the art of dialogue by years of watching Seinfeld.

:iconscaredyaoplz:
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013   Writer
whatever. it worked for me.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Writer
Observe. Observe. Observe!

I got it. Thank you so much for the advice, I'm going to really focus on the way in which people converse. :hug:
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013   Writer
of course.
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013   Digital Artist
As well as listening to real people talking, make sure that each character has a goal in the conversation. Simply making small-talk or giving out plot information is pretty boring to read.
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Writer
Yes. I tend to write spur-of-the-moment stories, thankfully only a few tend to turn out as a complete failure due to mindless dialogue.
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:iconkathraw:
KathraW Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013
If I was to suggest anything at all to this, it would be to get into the mind set of your characters. Turn into your character as you write their dialogue. Feel what they feel, love what they love, know what they know.

To make it believable, it has to be believable to you :rose:
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:iconamour-raven:
amour-raven Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student Writer
Thank you so much. I think that I really need to slow down and put myself in the characters shoes, not just observe as a distant bystander.
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:iconsteamland:
Steamland Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Student General Artist
well acording to this rticle i'm reading here are some tips to write good dialouge:


"The 7 Deadly Dialogue Sins

February 17, 2013 12:00 pm
Dave Trottier


After decades in the biz, these are the dialogue errors I see over and over again:

1. Obvious exposition.
Photo source lokidesign.net

Photo source lokidesign.net

Husband: “Darling, how long have we been married now?”

Wife: “Silly, it’s been 20 years. Remember Hawaii—the North Shore?”

Husband: “Oh yeah, that little honeymoon cottage.”

When your characters seem to be speaking more to the audience than to each other, you are being obvious. When two characters tell each other things they both already know, that’s almost always “obvious exposition.” Allow exposition to emerge naturally in the context of the story; don’t force anything.

2. Exaggeration.

I recently read a script where every single character used the f-bomb in most of their speeches. It gave me the impression that the screenwriter lacked imagination and/or did not understand his characters enough to know how they talked and/or was exaggerating the emotions of the characters to compensate for weak motivation or story context.

Oh, and by the way, just one exclamation point is plenty; and you may not need the one. In Shawshank Redemption, the warden approaches Andy who is in solitary confinement. He tells Andy that the man who could prove his innocence is dead. Andy tells the warden to have H&R Block do his taxes; he’s done. Then, in the screenplay, the warden yells at Andy; but in the movie, the warden’s speech is whispered with intensity. The movie version is more effective.

Most writers have a tendency to exaggerate character emotions. I remember recently explaining to a writer that five of her characters sobbed at various times in the script. That’s overwriting. Sometimes, trying to control emotion has more impact than actually expressing emotion.

3. Derivative dialogue.

Avoid clichés and lines we’ve heard in other movies. An occasional allusion to another movie or literary work can be effective, but I’ve already heard “We’re not in Kansas anymore” at least a hundred times (or so it seems).

4. Everyday pleasantries.

Sue: “Hi!”

Bill: “How are you?”

Sue: “Fine.”

Bill: “How’s the dog these days?”

Sue: “Getting along great.”

Boring. Avoid chit-chat, unless it is original and interesting. (See #7 below.)

On rare occasions, there can be a dramatic purpose for such talk. Recall the scene in Fatal Attraction when the Michael Douglas character walks into his home and sees his wife talking to his lover. At this point,his wife does not know about his affair. Then, his wife makes formal introductions.

Dan (Michael Douglas): “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

Alex (Glenn Close): “…Oh, we’ve definitely met.”

This is one of the rare instances where chit-chat is dramatic and suspenseful.

5. Unnecessary repetition.

Repeating a particular phrase or line can be effective, as with “Here’s looking at you, Kid” in Casablanca. One instance sets up the next.

The kind of repetition that seldom works dramatically is repeating information the audience already heard a couple of scenes ago. It creates a sense of stasis, and the story feels like it’s dragging.

6. No room for subtext.

This is obvious writing, but in a different sense than with #1 above. Here we have characters saying precisely what they are thinking or feeling. In other words, the subtext is stated rather than implied.

Generally, you’re best off having characters beat around the bush, imply their meaning, speak metaphorically, say one thing by saying something else, or use the double entendre.

No, you don’t need room for subtext in every single speech.

7. Unoriginal speeches.

This is similar to #3, but it has a different dimension. When a character’s speeches could be delivered by any character in the screenplay, you have a problem. I am referring to typical, ordinary, expected lines that virtually anyone could have said and that have little originality.

In addition, when you characters speak far too often in complete sentences, they are likely saying your words rather than their words. Giving your characters their own voices will strengthen your voice as a writer."
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