23 May 2011

Building Character Through Dialogue

Making characters really pop is a challenge every writer faces. Many new writers try to do this with description, but that's really tough. Even if a character description is more unique that simple hair and eye color (yawn!) or laundry list of characteristics (age, height, clothing, etc), description only touches the surface. But you can introduce the essence of the character through his or her words. Dialogue allows you to introduce character through word choice (eg. hello v. 'sup), topic of conversation (the weather v. philosophy), and reaction (shocked stuttering v. witty barb). Even better, you can advance your plot, create conflict, or layer in backstory using the same dialogue.

So, if your critique partner or editor tells you a character seems flat, look to his or her dialogue first. A few key bits of conversation can make a big difference.


lesleylsmith said...

You lost me, dude. What's "'sup"? :)

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

It's slang for What's up?

lesleylsmith said...

Thanks, dude. :)
I must admit, I just read Dead Reckoning, so I was thinking "supe" as an a supernatural being. Ha.