Writing like we speak—or—Authenticity in dialogue—or—Say what?
Before you write tips:
1) observe/listen to other's conversations. In the mall, at work, with your great-aunt Mabel. Note the word choices and sentence structure. Listen and learn.
2) Observe/ listen to your own conversation. Do you have "habit words"? Certain linguistic phrases that are a part of your lexicon? Quotes from movies or books that creep in often?
3) become aware of geographical peculiarities. What words/phrases are spoken wherever you're setting a story? What are the linguistic "giveaways" that would clue a reader in to your story's location simply based on the dialogue?
While you write tips:
1) Give each character his/her own lexicon. What are words he/she uses that others don't? How can those words give us a clue to his/her personality?
2) Editors are moving away from the "he said", "she replied" format of dialogue. Try to make the dialogue independent of action descriptions.
3) Try not to edit as you go. Just write what the characters are saying. You'll clean it up after you get the scene down.
After you write tips:
1) read your dialogue out loud (heck, read your entire story out loud!). You'll hear where the words are awkward.
2) remember that we speak in fragments. Do your characters?
3) get some friends together and read the dialogue as if it were a script. Skip the directions and just read the spoken words. Does it sound like a real conversation?
Use the tips above and edit a story you’ve already written. J
Alternately, use these steps in writing a new story!