ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Story Dialogue Revealed - 12 Important Points of Dialogue in Novels

Updated on March 4, 2017

Kindle Edition

Short Moments
Short Moments | Source

About the author

  • Short stories by AJ Barnett have been published since 1994 in magazines, summer specials, international competitions, broadcast on radio and recorded for audio books.




Kindle Edition

WITHOUT REPROACH, set on the Costa Blanca. 25 miles north of Benidorm
WITHOUT REPROACH, set on the Costa Blanca. 25 miles north of Benidorm | Source

1. Follow the rules

"I've put genius into my life; I've only put talent into my words." - Oscar Wilde

How to write good dialogue in a story

Writing story dialogue #1 - What's it all about?

Rules for writing are sometimes bent a little, and sometimes broken .... but only by the reckless, feckless, or by those who understand exactly what they're doing and why. Convincing dialogue is one of the most potent tools a writer has, yet nothing puts readers off quicker than bad dialogue.

But why do we need dialogue?

  1. Dialogue adds to the picture by supplying pointers to character’s ages and upbringing.
  2. Dialogue can show up traits such as attitude problems.
  3. Dialogue between protagonists adds to the reader’s understanding of characters.
  4. Dialogue helps differentiate characters, especially minor ones, and shows relationships between them.

Writing story dialogue #2 - Talent.

It helps to have natural talent to succeed at writing, you certainly need to have drive, yet writing a story is a craft that can be taught. To start with, successful writers must love reading. If you don't read by the bucketful, how can you possibly write .... But there are also techniques to reading that you must be aware of.

Writing story dialogue #3 - Scrutinize, Analyze, Synthesize.

Most people read for enjoyment, not to analyze .... but as an author, analyze you must - and every darn book you pick up.

You have to change your attitude towards books. You must sift through and find what made a particular story successful.

  • How did the story develop, and what made the characters come 'alive' for you?
  • How was tension created?
  • Why did you like the tale, or fall in love with the hero or heroine?
  • What held your interest most and why?
  • What was the ratio of dialogue to descriptive work?
  • How did dialogue contribute to the story, to the characters, to tension between characters?

Writing story dialogue #6 - Dialogue could be fifty percent of your novel

At it’s best; writing dialogue advances the story and depicts characters far more plainly than descriptive writing. Descriptive writing might satisfy some artistic streak in you, but it often becomes an act of self-indulgence. Let’s face it, plain old narrative can be quite boring.

Who wants their story to be thought of as boring? It's far better to have a character describe something in dialogue than have reams of descriptive work.

Dialogue is also quite important to today’s brief concentration-span generation. Editors and publishers like to see lots of white space. They believe readers aren't held by long passages of narrative. This principle is used quite heavily in article-writing for the web. White space is important.

White space makes patterns, it creates the feeling of a picture on the page. It is preferable to a page of solid prose. Dialogue creates this naturally.

  • Up to 50% of your novel could be dialogue.
  • Story dialogue keeps your story dynamic.
  • Modern books steer clear of long pieces of narrative, modern readers want things to move - narrative slows things down. Story dialogue speeds it up.
  • Modern readers are brought up on a diet of TV and films - loads of dialogue - little narrative. They expect their literature to be the same. Confirm this in popular published books. Study in particularly, those in your genre.
  • Acceptance or rejection of your novel can hang on the balance and quality of your story dialogue.
  • If dialogue is going to compose half the novel, it had better be good.

So, toss that descriptive passage aside and concentrate on story dialogue. That description might be your pride and joy - it might be full of wonderful phrases and colourful words - but it can also weary the pants off people.

Dialogue - use a voice recorder and be amazed

Story dialogue must sound natural. This doesn't mean it must be true to life.... This might seem an odd statement, but just record a conversation between your friends and you'll be amazed at how disorderly it all is. People interrupt, and often don't finish sentences. Natural conversation is a garbled affair. The problem is, communication at face to face level involves body language, subtle intonation, and facial expressions. All of these convey information it's sometimes difficult to explain in our writing.

When you write dialogue, you have to make it more formal, yet it has to sound real. Try reading back a passage from your book and recording it on a cheap digital voice recorder to see if it sounds realistic.

Writing story dialogue #10 - Make dialogue plain, make dialogue obvious

Whether your novel is a Horror Story, or a fantasy, high-quality story dialogue can help readers readily identify with characters - to understand them - to empathize. If your characters hold what appears to be a natural conversation, readers will be caught up with their story. They will feel they are part of what’s going on.

Writing story dialogue #11 - Caught up in dialogue

Dialogue has many uses. It can shed light on complex conditions. Story dialogue can put us in the picture about the past, explain the present, and give suggestions about the future, but whatever way it’s used, it should always be obvious - it should be plain. When writing a story, remember that your reader must at all times grasp what your protagonists are on about, don't make your dialogue hazy. It’s a mistake to make oblique references to events from dozens of pages earlier. The only time you can get away with that is if the incident was so amazing that the reader is bound to remember.

Writing story dialogue #12 - Unbearable speech

When writing dialogue, be careful what you allow your characters to say. The area where people come from, often affects the way they speak. This doesn’t mean you should try to write in dialect or regional accent. The occasional use of a local expression can be enchanting, but a whole speech in dialect is almost unbearable to read.

Make dialogue plain, make dialogue good, and it might just make your book.

End of - writing story dialogue


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      5 years ago from New Brunswick

      This is a helpful hub, I will be referring to it now and then. thanks.

    • ajbarnett profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Hi Lane and Nichola. Many thanks for reading and commenting on the hub. Glad you both found it useful. I'm grateful for any feedback, more especially when they are so genuine

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for all your blogs on writing. Its been very helpful (: Although I'm still a kid I want to grow up to become a good authoress. I think I should start small and these tips will help me. [:

    • Lane Diamond profile image

      Dave Lane 

      8 years ago from Butler, Wisconsin

      As an editor, I thought your hub might be helpful to my clients and other readers of my blog. I thought you'd like to know I recommended and linked it there.

    • ajbarnett profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Hey Terry, thanks. I really appreciate it when writing peers stop by and make positive comments.

    • profile image

      Terry Odell 

      8 years ago

      Very nice. I'm doing a dialogue workshop in a couple of months; this is a helpful reminder of what belongs on the page and why.

    • ajbarnett profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Thanks for that ralwus - and a Merry Christmas to you, too.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Gee thanks for another outstanding lesson. And Merry Christmas.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)