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> [-Writing-] Writing professional and realistic dialogues
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newspaper_guru
post Nov 4 2011, 09:50 PM
Post #1


Noobs shall die.
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I've set up this tutorial to show, in a nutshell, the main points of writing proper dialogues and the more and less important aspects of a good dialogue, as I've seen many around here who are still having problems in the area of writing realistic and human dialogues.

Because a lot of you guys fly over the first few lines and then decide it's a tl;dr, I'll quickly summarize what this thread is about -
Dialogues in connection to character personalities; Dialogues in connection to dramatic situations and conditions; The use of formality and informality and dialogue vocabulary.


-- Dialogues in connection to character personalities
I think it should seem logical to all of you that just setting off and writing without preparation is completely useless. Analyzing the personality of the talking characters is vital to know what they should
say and what words should be used. The character's personality always decides about what is said, and very often even over the vocabulary used.

Example: A well educated, polite tax collector standing at your doorstep will greet you formally and use words making him sound well-behaved and professional.
-- "Good Day sir, I am here to collect the incoming taxes of the autumn section" (Made up, doesn't have to make sense.)
In comparison, an old, humorous chap who's not very well educated won't treat you like the king of the village, and will use more approachive and close vocabulary.
-- "Hey Charles you old nutte', on for a booze t'morrow?"
My examples are quite extreme, you should understand what I mean though. PERSONALITIES ARE VERY IMPORTANT, so I'd only start creating dialogues when you've worked out who the
characters will be and what their personality is; but that should be how you do it anyway.






-- Dialogues in connection to dramatic situations and conditions
Another influence factor on dialogues is, of course, the situation in which the dialogue is performed. Even if somebody has a very funny and humorous personality, he won't come up with
any jokes when, for example, another actor just died. The personality configures the primary way the dialogue will go in normal situations, the condition only influences the dialogue when out of normal.
I have made two little diagrams to compare the outcome of the dialogue when the situation doesn't influence it, and when a special situation occurs:





I think the pictures and the text should bring the message over to you, so I'll carry on with the next point.






-- The use of formality and informality in dialogues

As the personalities of characters vary, the use of informal and formal languages also varies.
Simply, the more relaxed, close and apporachive a character is, the more informal he gets, and the more polite and stiff a character gets, the more formal the dialogue gets.
BUT - but, but but. I have seen many people going to extremes in either way - some stay as informal as a modern hip hopper. and some dialogues remind me of the
1800s with their stiff dialogues. Also, I have seen people getting the use of it so completely wrong that it's just funny to watch- "Yeah guys let's form an alliance."
Basically, in informality, you should only go as far as like when talking to a friend. Just don't go all YA BRO WACHA DOIN over me.
In formality, you should actually only go as far as the normal language used towards respected personalities in normal life (like elderly people. Just like when you talk to them. Yeah, I'm creepy.)
Also, you should know where the borderline is between formality and informality:



Yes, my diagrams are crap and made in MS Paint.






-- Dialogue vocabulary

A lost point about writing dialogues is very important to me, but only as it directly connects with my writing style - this is only a personal tip from me, not a real must.
What I have noticed is that many Writers around here - yes, I'm talking to you guys - have an absolutely amazing vocabulary, and don't refrain of using it everywhere.
This is nice and so on, looks real cool and makes you look super-brained, but it is NOT what writing is really about!
That's what many people seem to have picked up: If you're a writer, your amount of available words is twice as much as all the phone numbers of the whole American T-Online Phone book.
Basically, what I'm saying, you don't need to use amazing words and phrases to be a writer - writing is about putting feelings, thoughts or just real life situations on paper - but so, that
other people find interest and enjoy reading it.

So, my personal advice: You can use complex phrases and vocab in your dialogues, but keep it low and understandable, so that it's realistic, normal and human.
I wouldn't go around talking about my oh so effervescent and oh so tintinnabulative passion of tranquility, would I? (Those words actually exist ôo)



All in all, stick to these hints, and your outcome shouldn't be all too bad wink.gif

Anyway, if you've reached this point of reading and haven't simply SCROLLED DOWN (you lazy oaf), then I'd like to thank you so much for reading my lil' tutorial, I really hope it helped
you a little, if not made you smile, scratch your head, or think of me as a twat biggrin.gif


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Meself
post Nov 5 2011, 05:27 PM
Post #2



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Very good tutorial. I also believe quite original, as very few before you, noticed this problem smile.gif

It's about to make a script, which you see as natural, not as written by someone.

This post has been edited by Meself: Nov 5 2011, 05:28 PM


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newspaper_guru
post Nov 15 2011, 09:32 PM
Post #3


Noobs shall die.
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Type: Writer
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QUOTE (Meself @ Nov 5 2011, 06:27 PM) *
Very good tutorial. I also believe quite original, as very few before you, noticed this problem smile.gif

It's about to make a script, which you see as natural, not as written by someone.


Exactly, that's what I'm referring to somewhere in that big wall of text.
I'd really like to have some more feedback, that's why I'm kinda reviving this topic smile.gif


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WilliamJConn
post Nov 16 2011, 01:02 AM
Post #4


Lesser-known Grammarian and Wordsmith
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It's good for just a beginner and/or refresher tutorial for people to read if they really have no clue how to write dialogue!

Also, Dialogues isn't a word...

If you'd like to continue updating the guide, then I definitely have a few suggestions as I'm a big fan of writing myself:

-To say that "setting off and writing without preparation is useless" is generalization and wrong. I don't write with any type of predetermination or theorizing. I, personally, find my characters flow better, conversations flow better, and the story follows a pretty concise direction without stemming off too far from the point without even an outline being drawn up. I don't really know why I was offended by this, but it almost made me stop reading.

-When talking about situational dialogue, I believe you also need to revert to the first part of your post in that the situational dialogue is dependent on the character. True, most people with a heart won't crack jokes when somebody just died, but at the same time there are people who are heartless, those who didn't quite know the character who just died, and people who don't quite care.

-As for formality and informality, I also believe you should revert to your first post about the character's personality. I know that I don't speak formally with people I don't know unless they are someone important or someone I need to impress - which, as a life lesson, is practically one in the same. If your character was brought up in a prep school or in a heavily sheltered lifestyle, they may just speak 'formally' because they know no other way to speak. Also, you could have a slum-born character speak formally because they want to shed their rags somehow or maybe feel included in a certain group.

I agree 100% about people using 'big words' in common speech because they know them. Leave that for trolling the political debate's yahoo article comments, and do us all a solid by using 'real people' words in your dialogue.

All-in-all, it's like I used to say: It's the job of a writer to know all of the rules and guidelines of writing and then do their very best to ignore them.

It's a pretty simple, to-the-point guide that makes sense otherwise and I believe that it will be helpful to those that may be lost in the dark.


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mike_buxton
post Nov 16 2011, 01:51 AM
Post #5



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Thanks for spreading the word Newspaper_guru. Great post!

I just want to emphasize that prep is everything!

Creating a story is akin to annealing a strong tempered steel; even if you start with strong material as a base, it is best to strengthen it over intervals of time to yield the most superior product.

Our stories are colored by our life experiences. Even if just a little bit, we are different people than the day before and while revising a story over time it can become as if many people, all with similar tastes and ideas to you have worked to improve your project.

The best way to do this is to take notes! Especially during your daily routine an idea can hit you suddenly. Don't throw any away, even if it may seem not to be able to work at first. As the story evolves it may take new and unexpected directions, and even bad ideas will help to contrast with the really good ones.


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newspaper_guru
post Nov 16 2011, 07:53 AM
Post #6


Noobs shall die.
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Type: Writer
Alignment: Chaotic Good




QUOTE (WilliamJConn @ Nov 16 2011, 02:02 AM) *
It's good for just a beginner and/or refresher tutorial for people to read if they really have no clue how to write dialogue!

Also, Dialogues isn't a word...

If you'd like to continue updating the guide, then I definitely have a few suggestions as I'm a big fan of writing myself:

-To say that "setting off and writing without preparation is useless" is generalization and wrong. I don't write with any type of predetermination or theorizing. I, personally, find my characters flow better, conversations flow better, and the story follows a pretty concise direction without stemming off too far from the point without even an outline being drawn up. I don't really know why I was offended by this, but it almost made me stop reading.

-When talking about situational dialogue, I believe you also need to revert to the first part of your post in that the situational dialogue is dependent on the character. True, most people with a heart won't crack jokes when somebody just died, but at the same time there are people who are heartless, those who didn't quite know the character who just died, and people who don't quite care.

-As for formality and informality, I also believe you should revert to your first post about the character's personality. I know that I don't speak formally with people I don't know unless they are someone important or someone I need to impress - which, as a life lesson, is practically one in the same. If your character was brought up in a prep school or in a heavily sheltered lifestyle, they may just speak 'formally' because they know no other way to speak. Also, you could have a slum-born character speak formally because they want to shed their rags somehow or maybe feel included in a certain group.

I agree 100% about people using 'big words' in common speech because they know them. Leave that for trolling the political debate's yahoo article comments, and do us all a solid by using 'real people' words in your dialogue.

All-in-all, it's like I used to say: It's the job of a writer to know all of the rules and guidelines of writing and then do their very best to ignore them.

It's a pretty simple, to-the-point guide that makes sense otherwise and I believe that it will be helpful to those that may be lost in the dark.


Thanks for the comment, and thanks especially for the suggestions here!
I was quite surprised when I saw your first comment though, but looking at the next post, I think it can differ from writer to writer, so I'll just add a 'in my opinion' - I never realized that other writers thought else in that point o:

Everything else you point are, basically, exceptions. My examples are only there to underline and make the reader understand what I'm saying. All my examples have
exceptions, of course, a tax collector could of course also not have learnt any formal speech and could have been given a job because his boss was too lazy to test
his language skills beforehand - The examples I give work in MOST cases, but I'll still adjust it a little wink.gif

QUOTE (mike_buxton @ Nov 16 2011, 02:51 AM) *
Thanks for spreading the word Newspaper_guru. Great post!

I just want to emphasize that prep is everything!

Creating a story is akin to annealing a strong tempered steel; even if you start with strong material as a base, it is best to strengthen it over intervals of time to yield the most superior product.

Our stories are colored by our life experiences. Even if just a little bit, we are different people than the day before and while revising a story over time it can become as if many people, all with similar tastes and ideas to you have worked to improve your project.

The best way to do this is to take notes! Especially during your daily routine an idea can hit you suddenly. Don't throw any away, even if it may seem not to be able to work at first. As the story evolves it may take new and unexpected directions, and even bad ideas will help to contrast with the really good ones.


Thanks a lot for the comment! I do like criticism, but I also like approval wink.gif
And yes, that's about how I work. When creating a story, I'll just make up a concept, think up the main actors, and a general story direction, then I have ideas from time to time which I add to the game.



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Drunken Paladin
post Nov 20 2011, 02:59 PM
Post #7


Killed a Man in Reno
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QUOTE (WilliamJConn @ Nov 15 2011, 08:02 PM) *
Also, Dialogues isn't a word...


Technically, it is a word. But you're right that it's incorrectly used in this context.

I also want to stress a point that so many people seem to misunderstand about the process of writing dialogue, which is that written dialogue and spoken dialogue are not the same. The more casual and "realistic"-sounding you try to make your dialogue, the more stilted and, honestly, uninteresting it will sound on the page. There is no real substantive advice I can give on the subject other than to read a lot of high quality dialogue (I always turn to Hemingway, even though he is a very stylistic writer of dialogue) and try to imitate it until it becomes at least partially intuitive.


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hkoz
post Nov 26 2011, 02:02 PM
Post #8



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thanks for the great tutorial it really helped me biggrin.gif


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AsterothOmega
post Nov 27 2011, 05:48 PM
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The way this is written is a bit confusing, although its a great tutorial that helped me a lot in writing relistic characters for my game!
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