I’ve written about many topics regarding writing your novel, including a few posts on dialogue. But I have never really addressed the importance of dialogue in your story. (To check out some of my other dialogue related posts, see the end of this post.)
Dialogue is simply characters speaking aloud. Now not all books have to have dialogue. If your main character was stranded on a deserted island, then he wouldn’t have anyone to converse with. But most books have at least some dialogue to break up the action. Dialogue can provide several benefits to your storytelling.
1.) Immediacy – The use of dialogue allows the reader to be involved in a scene. They experience what happened rather than just have the author or a character tell them about it later. Wouldn’t you rather witness an argument between two people than hear about it later?
2.) Characterization – Dialogue is an excellent method of revealing character. When you hear a person speak, you get an understanding of what kind of person he or she is. It can reveal if they are educated, funny, happy, bored and so much more with not only what they say but how they say it.
3.) Information – Dialogue is a way to deliver information to the reader. It can reveal people’s passions, motivations and more. This can be a way to get back story or other important information into the story without dumping a lot of information in a long story-stopping description.
Now how much dialogue you include in your story is can range from a lot (as in most of the story takes place in a conversation rather than a narrative), or you can use very little depending on your own preference and the demands of the story (such as the man on a deserted island example from earlier). There is no crime in writing a story with only minimal dialogue if that is your preference. But don’t avoid dialogue because you feel challenged by writing it. As with all aspects of novel writing, it takes practice to write dialogue well.
For tips on crafting natural dialogue, check out this post.
For advice on using slang and dialects in fiction, click here.
If you want help on using the right number of speech tags, check this out.