any dialogue that i write is always boring! i don’t have a problem with my characters rambling or anything, or sounding natural… it’s just unbelievably boring and i am on the verge of tears, do you have any advice?

pens-swords-stuff:

Well first of all, you’re on anonymous so I don’t know who you are, and I don’t have your writing in front of me so I don’t really know what your dialogue is like. Because of that, I can’t really tell you anything specific and I can only talk extremely broadly.

I think the first thing that you might want to do is to identify why it’s boring. If you’re able to and comfortable with having a writer you trust go over it and help you figure it out, that may be helpful. You can’t fix a problem until you know what the cause is.

Generally, when it comes to boring dialogue I tend to see two big reasons.

The dialogue is boring because it serves no purpose.

For example, take a look at something like this exchange here.

“Hey Leslie, how’re you doing today?”

“I’m doing fine, thanks. How about you?”

“I’m a little tired, but I’ll make it through the day.”

“Oh good. Nice weather we’re having, huh?”

It’s not necessarily bad. It’s realistic, it’s a conversation I’ve had with people multiple times, and the dialogue isn’t extremely stilted or unnatural. It’s how a lot of conversations start in real life. However, in writing it’s okay to cut all of that boring small talk out and jump right into the good stuff. Trim all of the unnecessary bits!

As a general guideline, dialogue should serve some sort of purpose. It might move the plot along; it might showcase a character’s personality somehow or illustrate a relationship…  Whatever the reason may be, dialogue should be meaningful in some way, shape, or form.

Maybe you could try going through all of your dialogue and writing out what the purpose of it is in the margins. If you can’t think of a reason why it’s important or necessary to your story somehow, it might be something to consider cutting out.

The dialogue is boring because the character voice is weak.

Character voice is incredibly important in dialogue. It differentiates characters, and it brings variety and life to what they’re saying.

If you want to check if your character voices are distinct or not, try taking away all of the dialogue tags out of your writing. Can you identify which character is saying what based off of what they’re saying and how?

If not, it’s probably time to develop a stronger, more distinctive character voice.

How does your character communicate? Do they use a lot of sarcasm, or are they rather dry and blunt? Do they prefer to communicate by action, or are they a silver-tongue, able to spin convincing lies out of thin air? Do they have certain patterns in their speech? Where are they from? How does their background, personality, and situation contribute to how they speak? There are a ton of really good guides on developing character voice on the internet, try googling some!

Another important thing to consider when we’re talking about dialogue and character voice in general, is that every character has some sort of motive. Sometimes, I fall into the trap of writing dialogue for my characters because I need them to say something. It’s important to remember the intentions of the character in a conversation. Maybe they’re hiding something; maybe they’re trying to get out of the conversation as politely as they can; maybe they want to keep talking to this person as long as possible… Whatever their intentions, be sure to identify it and keep it at the forefront of your mind as you write it out.

Let that intention, combined with their personality and situation guide the dialogue — don’t have them say something because you made them, make sure they have their own agency. This will help you identify what is important to the scene, and perhaps even create tension if their intentions don’t align.

I hope this helps, good luck!!

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