The dialogue in your story is crucial to several factors that ultimately define the tale, including but not limited to character development, plot advancement, and description. It is one of the three main components of writing and should most definitely be kept in mind when proceeding with your tasks. Below, I’ve written some things to keep in mind when you are allowing your characters to converse and strategies that can help with accomplishing those goals.
1) Conversations should be natural and consistent: Nothing should sound like something your character wouldn’t say. For example, if your protagonist is meant to be serious and dark, they shouldn’t be saying ‘OMG, L8S ALIG8ERS, SEE Y’ALL RIGHT AFTER I FINISH MY HOURLY STARBUCKS RUN AFTER PILATES AT THREE. LUV YA AAAHHHHH!’ every three seconds. Yes, characters are complex and have unique moments depending on the circumstance, but even with that, they must remain consistent. Another note regarding this is that if your character does not sound natural or human, something must be altered.
2) Characters should have their own voices: If they all begin to sound monotone and the same, your story likely is as well. Everyone has a different thinking/speaking process, and that should accompany them throughout the tale. (I mean, life isn’t one character, is it? Imagine how horrid it would be if we were all just one)
3) Avoid small talk: You should definitely keep in some moments that show your characters are still human but if it isn’t necessary towards understanding/advancing the plot or characters, get rid of it. No one wants to hear about Carter’s new bedsheets, regardless of what snazzy patterns they have.
4) DIalogue is important, but it isn’t the whole story: Let actions show what happens rather than your character talking it all out. Better yet, mix them (narration + dialogue) for the best effect.
5) Don’t always use names: It isn’t natural. Only do this when capturing another character’s attention or to make a point.
7) Stutter Realistically: “I-I d-d-don’t e-ev-ever st-stutter l-like th-this-is. Instead, this is how I – how I stutter.”
8) Remember your dialogue tags: If you cannot tell who is speaking, it’s time to plug one of them in. It doesn’t hurt to add a ‘Sarah said’ from time to time so go ahead and do it! Maybe you know what you’re talking about inside of your mind, but your audience doesn’t.
9) Don’t talk too much: Sometimes, actions are stronger than words. If instinct calls for it, do it.
10) Proper punctuation: This is very important for readers, publishers, yourself, everybody. Here’s a quick guide that can help.
If you are struggling with any of these, the best way for a fix is to just read your writing out loud. From there, pick out lines and phrases, highlight them, and go off. Make changes as you recall previous interactions in your head and keep working on fitting it into the description and narration. Watch out for the things above and repeat this for as long as you need – in my experience, it usually makes for a pretty good session. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask and as always, I hope that this could help. Cheers!