Writing Nonfiction with Fictional Techniques (Part 9)


Good dialogue is essential to your story. Dialogue moves the action along better than any other medium. When possible have two people in your story, so they can talk to each other. If this is not possible and only one person is involved in a happening, perhaps you could relay that incident after it occurred through a telephone conversation or a chat over coffee. Staying in someone’s mind and listening to their thoughts is a boring place for the readers to be.

Be careful of the tags you use for dialogue. “He said” is better than “he articulated” or “he uttered.” After all, what is important is the information between the quotation marks, not the word used for “said.” An exception would be if you needed to show strong emotion or a certain voice tone that the words by themselves didn’t express. Examples: He shouted, he whispered.

The dialogue should be kept simple, natural, and conversational. However, don’t use the exact words a person would actually speak because in normal conversation, a person uses far more words than are needed. Actual speech needs to be whittled down so it is crisp and clear. Never let your characters ramble. It helps to read the dialogue out loud.