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How to Write Realistic Dialogue

Friday, 6 February 2015  |  Posted by Nikki Roberti

It’s probably because I was a playwright first before writing novels (or maybe because I’m a chatty person who can’t shut up–ask my cubicle mate), but I am obsessed with dialogue! It’s my favorite part of creating my characters and watching them work their way through my stories.

But sometimes crafting dialogue in an authentic way with a unique voice can be one of the most challenging components to master. That’s why I came up with the S.P.E.A.K. technique to help myself and fellow writers remember some important tips to ensure we’re focusing on our dialogue in a way that strengthens our entire books from characterization to progressing the plot.

The vlog above was made for the site I co-manage–Whiskey, Wine, and Writing–and Brenda asked me to share it with all of you.

S.P.E.A.K. stands for…

  • Skip the Obvious
  • Pay Attention to Voice
  • Engage the Scene
  • Always Check Your Tags
  • Keep it Brief

Watch the video above to see how focusing on these things can strengthen your own characters’ dialogue.

Do you have your own tips and tricks to writing authentic dialogue? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for watching and have a wildly creative day!

  • Roxanne says:

    Exactly the encouragement and direction that I needed for today.

  • Great acronym! I love what you say about skipping the obvious. Too often authors use dialogue to provide exposition, ignoring the fact that people don’t often discuss things with complete context because if they’re familiar with each other then they both usually know the context. It can be tricky, but yeah, this is an important lesson, because bad dialogue ALWAYS feels staged and makes me immediately feel less invested in the book.

  • You are adorable! I will use your video with my students next week when we talk about dialogue. I love the acronym. I’m sure my students will appreciate a break from me for 6 and a half minutes :O
    I would add a few more things about dialogue: it should either move your plot forward or reveal important details about your character or theme.
    Great post!

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