I'm new to narrative writing and especially have trouble with dialogue. I too often am using the word well to start a character's sentence after receiving some information to then ask a question about or to suggest something.

How did you know I was visiting the resort? Well, it's just that we don't see too many people of your kind around here? Hmm? What do you mean by that? For the past few decades, there's been a steady decline of monsters in our islands Well, what happened to them?

How should I start the second sentence instead?

  • 3
    In most cases you can pretty much just remove it and leave the rest as it is. – Morfildur Jul 29 '18 at 11:56
  • You can use "um" if you want to keep the sense of hesitation. – Ash Jul 29 '18 at 17:12

It is easy to get stuck on a word and overuse it. It is something a writer should be aware of; even if it is difficult.

Part of writing is your self-analysis. WHY are you using "Well" ? What does that mean to you? What purpose is it serving?

To me, "Well," indicates the speaker was expecting something more to be said, and is asking for it to be said, and indicating what they expected to be said. It also expresses a note of dominance, as if they are talking to a subordinate they can command.

That is how it seems to be used in your examples. You might be using it as a shortcut; many writers settle on a word as a shortcut and use it too often. In that case, use more words and stop trying to take so many shortcuts, readers don't mind reading more words.

You are the writer! You decide upon the listener's expectations and demands. Change them.

How did you know I was visiting the resort?

I inferred it. Your kind is not common here, I presumed you were visiting.

What is 'my kind', exactly?

Monsters in general, no offense. Non-humans, if you prefer that. There's been a steady decline for years in the islands.

Hm. No offense taken. Why is that happening? The decline?

I see the trend, not the reason. Perhaps there is a place they like better.


I'd recommend visiting your local cafe with a notebook. Sit and listen to the people around you and see how they talk. You'll find that people often speak in fairly clipped sentences, they don't spell everything out. It'll really help you learn natural dialogue.

I also watched every episode of Gilmore Girls. It sounds like a nightmare but, MAN, do these characters TALK! And Amy Sherman-Palladino has a real talent for dialogue. She also wrote The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which is another excellent series. Both of these really really helped with my dialogue.

So, in your example, clip the dialogue a bit, don't pad it out so much:

How did you know I was visiting the resort?

We don't see many of your kind around here.

What's that supposed to mean?

Every year we see fewer monsters, it's been declining for a decade.

Why? What happened to them?

This is just an example but HTH and Good Luck!

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