Lin Oliver’s Writing Effective Dialog workshop. (again with the bullet points)
1) Each character sounds like themselves. (Read aloud the dialog of each character only and listen. Does it sound like it is all coming from one individual?)
2) Each character is distinguishable from the others. (if they all sound alike then they haven’t come to life)
3) Speech should sound natural, unforced and flowing. Develop your ear. People speak illogically, elliptically and emotionally.
4) Back and forth has a rhythm and pacing that is pleasing
5) Suspense is created through dialog
6) Emotion is expressed through good dialog – not adverbs!
What can go wrong?
1) Sounds forced or unnatural
2) Characters all sound alike
3) Monologue, not dialog. Nobody delivers a “butt load” of information in dialog (quote attributed to Cole Elington Baker, Lin’s son).
4) Linear and logical to a fault
Only attempt dialect if you really know it and then refrain from over-use of phonetic spelling. A little goes a long way. Using “ze” instead of “the” can give you all the color you need to give your character a German accent.
Use a tag phrase to identify your characters, don’tcha know.
Always read your dialog out loud.
Beware of question marks.