Friday, April 26, 2013

Dialogue: Keep it Natural

I love watching "Voltron".  It was one of my childhood favorites, and I still enjoy watching it now that I'm an adult.

However, Princess Allura always drove me crazy when she spoke to her father.  Not only did she not listen to him, she constantly said "father" during the dialogue.

"Father, I don't understand."  "Father, what are you saying?"  She was so clueless, I was just waiting for her to say, "Father, why am I a complete bimbo?"

When it comes to conversation, using names isn't really natural.  A conversation with my husband or son does not involve the constant use of their names or endearments.  If it did, the dialogue would be pretty stilted and unnatural, to wit:

"Daniel, I'm pretty tired.  Mind if we order take out?"

"Do whatever you want, Wendy."

"What would you like, honey?"

"Well, sweetie, how about Indian tonight?"

"Oh, you know Indian food is my favorite."

"Wendy, I just want you to be happy.  I know how hard you work."

"You are the sweetest husband in the world, Daniel."

Now, in dialogue that flows naturally, our conversation would read more like this:

"I'm pretty tired.  Mind if we order take out?"

"Do whatever you want.  I just want food."

"What kind of food?"

"I don't care."

"Well, that's helpful."

If you have any doubts about the dialogue in your story, try one of the best editing tips of all time: read it out loud.  If the dialogue, and the story in general, sounds unnatural to your ears, go back and clean it up by eliminating the unnecessary use of names and endearments.  The resulting dialogue should be tighter and better-paced.

 Copyright (c) 2013 Wendy L. Callahan


  1. true, but then sometimes you get lost on who is speaking.

  2. When you over use the names it sounds kind of aggressive lol.