So how do I go about it?
Well first off, you have to know what fuels each character and truly know that person. Think of your best friend or your mom or uncle. Think about those moments when they say something that is so typically them… why do you say that? Odds are that it’s because you know them so well that they have their own style of talking, thinking, and letting loose their mind.
The same goes for characters because just the fact that they’re fictional doesn’t mean they’re not alive.
In my case, I do a lot of introspection with my characters and if I’m ever stuck I actually ask out loud, "ok so what would you say now"… and like some creepy Ouija moment, the hand starts to move of its own accord and I’m just jotting down what they say.
The best recommendation for this is to watch movies and read books. I recommend both because although reading is KEY, dialogue shines wonderfully in a movie because you get an explicit tone, a rhythm, timing, and personality shines through in several things. Watching standup comedians is also very helpful because although they may be raunchy, the best have a mastery of the word that is enviable. Pretty soon, you start writing bodily expressions to complement the dialogue and the words start to mesh together with the character until it gets to the point that while editing you can even find yourself saying, he or she wouldn’t say that, and then you write what comes out naturally.
To me that’s the secret to the best dialogue, for it to feel genuine and believable within you and to play off the personality of the character… to let their soul shine. For this, lots of writing helps and I’ve even seen some people keep journals of their characters to REALLY get in tune with who they are and what they’re all about.
An extra tip is to have index cards with reminders of what drives that character. Another really important thing is that good lines of dialogue can appear like a flash in the pan and you really need to capture them before you forget. For this I have index cards, notebooks, notes on my cell phone, documents on my jump drive, etc. ANYTHING to capture that line because I’ve known to be stuck on a scene only to have it released from bondage thanks to ONE line.
So how about you? How do you go about writing dialogue?
Peace, love, and maki rolls.