82 votes
Accepted

How to avoid turning dialogue into Q&A session?

OK. This will be like all the other things we are learning. You fill your tool box with every tool you can find, and use all of them. In this case you are collecting tools to make your dialog sound ...
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  • 23.5k
75 votes

My story is written in English, but is set in my home country. What language should I use for the dialogue?

You have read books like this, or at least are familiar with books like this: Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls is set in Spain, and it is indicated, repeatedly, that the dialogue is in ...
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66 votes
Accepted

How do we handle pauses in a dialogue?

You indicate pauses with action, even mentioning the pause. (Or, as Cyn says in comment, with other exposition or thoughts). Chad said, "Was the computer software hacked?" Bryce shook his ...
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  • 92k
52 votes
Accepted

How to write dialogue for someone who is intelligent but barely speaks the language?

Insight. Or, if you're so smart --- Prove It! I think you misunderstand intelligent people, and I wouldn't rely on vocabulary to indicate it in the first place. I am a professor in a university, ...
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  • 92k
49 votes
Accepted

How do I say that a character said something without resorting to "said Character" every time?

You don't always have to tag "said" after every line said. You can do something like: "Why do you always look at me that way?" She turned her head away, embarrassed as she recalled all the times ...
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  • 4,561
47 votes

Using font to highlight a god's speech in dialogue

Visually distinguishing a character's dialogue is not a bad idea. Sir Terry Pratchett used this tool quite a lot. Most notably, his Death spoke in ALL CAPS, including small caps when needed. (Small ...
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39 votes
Accepted

Protagonist constantly has to have long words explained to her. Will this get tedious?

It sounds very gimmicky, to be honest. I think you should think of more different ways in which her lower education would show, and switch it up a bit. Etiquette comes to mind, not being able to read, ...
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  • 2,832
38 votes

How can one write good dialogue in a story without sounding wooden?

You leave out small talk by focusing on big talk! By this I mean every thing a person says should be something at least one person in the conversation needs to hear, or wants to hear, or is surprised ...
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  • 92k
36 votes

Can non-English-speaking characters use wordplay specific to English?

Yes, this is part of the translation convention People tend to think of translation as a word-to-word equivalency, but it isn't. Different languages have different grammars, and each language words ...
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34 votes

What is the correct way to write dialogue?

It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Think of authors that you've read who handle dialogue differently, and what they were trying to convey. For instance: "I'm headed to the store,&...
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  • 822
33 votes

How do we objectively assess if a dialogue sounds unnatural or cringy?

Your sample dialogue sounds unnatural because it's on the nose. If you're not familiar with that term, it means, essentially, that there is no subtext. The characters say exactly what they think, feel,...
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33 votes
Accepted

Why do professional authors make "consistency" mistakes? And how to avoid them?

Lack of proofreading has been the bane of writing in many locations over the last few years. Do you remember back when newspapers came to your house and you paid to subscribe? Okay, maybe you don't, ...
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32 votes

Writing in a Christian voice

Read authentic Christian voices Find works written by religious Christians on religious subjects, and read them. These can either be non-fiction works, or stories with religious themes. Ideally, ...
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32 votes

Writing "hahaha" versus describing the laugh

Dialogue quotes are for things a character actually says. If your character says "hahaha" then fine. But I've never heard anyone do that. You might get a single "ha!" but that's an exclamation not ...
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31 votes

How to write dialogue for someone who is intelligent but barely speaks the language?

Two years ago I took a course with a new professor in our university - a fresh immigrant from the US, who had to teach in Hebrew. Said professor is one of the most brilliant researchers at our faculty,...
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30 votes
Accepted

How do we objectively assess if a dialogue sounds unnatural or cringy?

Trust your instinct. Period. You are right--I zoned out at 'You turned me into a monster.' Who says that? I mean, I don't know whether to cringe or LOL. I didn't read further, but forcing myself to ...
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  • 23.5k
30 votes
Accepted

How do you use the interjection for snorting?

It would look more natural outside of dialog, to me. Unless the character says "snort." "He's really attractive." Megan snorted. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the coffee off the table. "Uh, ...
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  • 23.5k
29 votes
Accepted

The difference between dialogue marks

I think this is dependent on the convention in the country or location where you are publishing. In the U.S., it's double quotes, but in Britain, it's often single quotes. I believe France and Italy ...
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29 votes

Should you avoid redundant information after dialogue?

Why don't you paraphrase the action? Say what he is literally doing. How does he give the chip? Is it in an envelope? Does he extend his arm? Is he tossing it? .... "Here's the chip in question" he ...
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28 votes

How do we handle pauses in a dialogue?

Amadeus's solution is a good one, but if you really want to keep these sentences within dialogue, without filling the gaps with anything else, you can also use ellipses to indicate pauses within ...
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27 votes
Accepted

How do you make characters sound like non-native English speakers without using any grammar error in their dialogues?

Colloquial, Archaic, big, and non-English insertions: To give the feel that a character is fluent in English, but not a native speaker, you need to make them flow differently than the flow of an ...
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  • 12.8k
26 votes

Using colloquialisms the reader may not be familiar with

It worth noting that this kind of thing has been done many times before. Stories such as The Red Badge of Courage, The Unvanquished, and Their Eyes Were Watching God all do this. Their Eyes Were ...
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  • 2,222
25 votes

Pregnancy in writing - A bit difficult

As someone else has said, every pregnancy is different. I am currently eight months pregnant, have been pregnant before, and pretty much every woman my age I know seems to be pregnant right now, so ...
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25 votes
Accepted

Is there a way to explain how a character said a word sarcastically without dialog tags?

You have already conveyed sarcasm perfectly well in the dialogue. And that is the best place for it. If you can convey emotion through dialogue without having to add tags like, derisively, ...
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  • 9,883
24 votes

How do I say that a character said something without resorting to "said Character" every time?

"Character said" really is one of the best ways to tag dialog. When we write we are hyper-aware of our word choices and sentence structure. We don't like to repeat ourselves and we hate seeing all ...
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  • 439
24 votes
Accepted

Ensuring that character dialogues sound like they are coming from different people

The way a character talks reflects their social class, their level of education, where they come from, what kind of people they are and how the see the world. The last one in particular is key - if ...
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