Do you want a quick and easy way to liven up your stories? Give them a voice by using dialogue. Dialogue breathes life into stories in a way that’s hard to match.
Think about how you tell a friend about an encounter with someone. Don’t you generally recount the conversation, in a sort of “he said, she said” manner? You probably don’t recite it like you are reading both characters in a play script, but you’ll give the background, then quote a couple of rounds of dialogue, then revert back to description.
This same strategy works in writing. For example, consider the following story clip:
When I called my sister I told her I’d been sewing this afternoon, and it had made me feel young again because it reminded me of the way Mother always insisted that I rip out seams that weren’t perfect.
Compare that clip with the following dialogue and decide for yourself which you’d rather read:
“I feel like I’m fourteen again,” I began when my sister picked up the phone.
“Oh? And why is that?” she asked. I haven’t been that age for several decades now, and in just a few years I’ll have fourteen-year-old grandchildren.
“I spent the afternoon sewing, and I don’t think I’ve spent as much time ripping things out since I was that age,” I explained. We both laughed, remembering what a perfectionist Mother was, and how she’d insist we rip out a seam and redo it if there was the slightest pucker or other imperfection.
Don’t worry about remembering the precise words originally spoken. You won’t. What you will remember are words that express the essence of your memory, and that’s what you want to convey — the essence of the way things were and how they seem to you now. If you don’t quite remember what people said, write what you think they probably said, and chances are you’ll be right.
Why not write a story today and use a little dialogue?
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal