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beeftony: A few tips on dialogue: A lot of dialogue advice focuses on how to achieve “realistic”...

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beeftony:

A few tips on dialogue:

  • A lot of dialogue advice focuses on how to achieve “realistic” dialogue. I’m not going to do that. Unrealistic dialogue can serve an artistic purpose. For example, Shakespeare. Real people don’t talk in iambic pentameter, but works for the medium in which it’s intended, i.e. theater.
  • A better thing to strive for is believable dialogue. Ultimately dialogue should fit the story you’re telling. Something like The Last of Us has very “grounded” dialogue, whereas something like Overwatch has “heightened” dialogue. Each game is trying to achieve very different things, and each picks the dialogue style that helps with that goal.
  • If you want an example from movies, compare something like Logan to Deadpool. Both made by the same studio, both telling very different stories, and the dialogue style reflects that.
  • Your dialogue should say something. What I mean is that it shouldn’t just be there to fill space. It should reveal something about each character, even if it’s as simple as what they like for breakfast. You can tell a lot about a person just by the way they talk.
  • Along those lines, it’s good to have a handle on each character’s “voice,” especially in a text-based medium like fanfiction. If you do it right, you won’t need dialogue tags to tell you who’s talking. A good exercise is to write the dialogue in a vacuum and see if each character sounds different enough on their own that you can easily tell them apart.
  • What characters don’t say is just as important as what they do. Most people tend to hold certain things back, depending on their personality and how well they know the other person. Some of the most spellbinding conversations I’ve heard or read in fiction involve two characters dancing around an idea that neither will put into words.
  • Learning how to close a scene on a “button” is an important skill to master. It’s a skill they teach in screenwriting, but it applies to just about any medium. It’s something that comes with practice, but eventually you’ll start to get a sense of where conversations should naturally end.

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