I am currently working on a novel and I was having some trouble finding the best solution for this question. I understand that both dialogues and conflicts are needed in a good proportion to cook a bestseller. But I would like to experiment on my work. Will be much appreciated if you can throw some light on this. Thank you.

  • Most likely you're looking for more conflict, to much dialog can make a boring story; Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 11:26
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    Well, according to my calculations it's 57.532% action, 38.17% "dialogues" and 4.702% other. No bestseller has ever deviated by more than .003% from this formula.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 1:25
  • 1
    @Robusto - Please produce a source that you have invented for these imaginary statistics. Back it up! :) Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 3:13
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    @Neil Fein: Imaginary? Feh! Again I say: Feh! A writer may laugh at science, but science always wins in the end. Fear me!
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 9:52
  • @Robusto & Fien.. Appreciate it! Thanks! btw, good one there @Fien :) Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 18:12

4 Answers 4


The two are not mutually exclusive in an action adventure novel. If you think that conflict in a purely physical sense eliminates the need for dialogue, you're limiting yourself. Dialogue very often creates conflict. Without it, you'd just be describing a bunch of events that happen.

Consider the film Ronin, for example. While not a novel, the principle is still the same. It's the terse dialogue in the film that helps set up some of the most memorable conflicts between the characters (for example, Robert De Nero and Sean Bean).

Without dialogue, you have no idea of who people are, or why they do what they do. You are essentially ignoring characterisation. Too often, novels and films focus on the action element to the detriment of their characters. (You'll also find that a LOT of action is being used in the hopes of obscuring the fact that the characters are weak).

Don't avoid dialogue in the hopes that it makes it more of an action story. On the other hand, make sure your dialogue is relevant in creating conflict.


I'm not sure you should be thinking of them as mutually exclusive.

Good dialogue will add to the conflict, not take away from it. If the characters aren't talking about something important, the conversation probably has no place in your book; if the characters ARE talking about something important, you can use their emotions and their word choices to add to the sense of urgency, and to make us care about the characters so that we care about the outcome of whatever crisis you're putting them through.

Maybe you meant to contrast dialogue with narrative? I think THAT can be a more difficult balancing act, but dialogue and conflict work together really well.


An action/adventure novel requires both to be compelling, but they need to flow together in whatever proportion you're currently writing them in.

Your story may need a breather and so you position your characters in a relaxed, personal situation, such as having a drink at a bar. Perhaps your characters have just met and one is a naturally curious person and begins to question the other. This is where your dialog needs to take preference. This doesn't mean you can't cut straight to action, but for a "satisfying" period, you need to allow your characters to open up and talk about things, such as their history, their goals for "the mission" (for example), perhaps even talking about issues they have regarding the events in the story. This not only lets the other character but lets the reader in on things in an implicit way. You want to describe some of the back story to the reader? Use a dialog scene.

Often an easy way to end the dialog scene is to introduce an event that interrupts them, leaving some dialog behind to be able to expand on later. Have the characters "skim the surface" then be pulled away to action, then later on when you need to give your readers a break, bring them back. Perhaps a companion wanted to know more about why the protagonist thinks they shouldn't be going on the mission or soemthing.

A novel with only action or only dialog can get boring. You need a mixture of both, whether it's a dialog scene, an action scene, or an action scene with intermittent dialog to keep the character's "in the scene".

Action needs to be relevant just as much as dialog needs to be when used in your story.


Your best bet is to examine the novels you like, and analyze their construction. Rather than worrying about what the genre as a whole does, hone in on what resonates with you.

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