Just a Fly-By about Dialogue and Characterization

You know what my favorite part of a story is? The dialogue. Seriously, because when it’s well done, it’s just so much fun to read. At least, I think so. Give me a good conversation and I am totally hooked. I love the interplay between characters, the back and forth that tells you so much about who they are and how they relate, to the person they’re talking to, to the world they’re in, to the story.

I love it when characters argue, or have a discussion where they’re at cross purposes. I love it when one character is saying one thing—and the reader knows it—and another character is hearing another—and the reader knows that, too—because I think it shows the depth of understanding the author has for the characters, and has given the reader. You know? You can’t have two different characters, talking about two different things, but thinking they’re talking about the same thing unless you know how they think!

Did that make any sense? The point was, I love it when an author knows a character so well that the words coming out of their mouths make real sense, because we—the readers—understand that character, because they’ve been explained to us by the author. (Although, hopefully through the cunning use of characterization and not because they’ve literally been explained.) Dialogue takes on a whole new depth when the reader really gets what the character is trying to say, regardless of the words they’re actually saying.


Celebcuen said…
Dialogue is my favourit part in a story too. I like to read them, I like to write them... even if sometimes they just suck the life out of you :-(

I like to write them because they tell me so much about the characters. It's a bit like when I read them: I discover lots of things about the heart of the characters. The same when I write them. So many times, dialogues show me things I hadn't realised. So many times things just click during a dialogue.
I don't know how it happens, but it happens all the time :-)
Mike said…
One of the things that really surprised me about NanoWriMo was how much fun I had writing dialogue.

In real life I'm an absolute dunce at conversation - can't do it, don't enjoy trying - but when writing it just seemed to fall out of my brain effortlessly. Very odd.
Marion Sipe said…
Sarah - Yes! I absolutely love writing dialogue, especially when the characters say something I'm not expecting and suddenly everything about them clicks into place! It's so much fun to learn about the characters, to really get inside their heads and dialogue is a great method of doing that!

Mike - Maybe you're saving it all up for the writing! I know a few people like that, who sit back and watch more than interacting and then when they sit down to write they're often surprised to realize how much they actually picked up!

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