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  • Writer's pictureDirk Patton

Characters and Dialogue

I receive lots of questions from people asking for advice/help with characters and dialogue.

If you aren't having conversations with people, and I don't mean texting or DM or email but an actual old-school verbal conversation, it's going to be hard for you to craft dialogue.

Let me expand a little bit on that thought.

Writers need to be students of human behavior. Observers. Mental note takers. There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet. Get out there and interact with a tiny fraction of a percent of them. Note everything from their speech patterns to how they throw in slang or profanity to how they use adjectives or verbs or... Pay attention to how they react to other people and circumstances.

If you're someone who is considered the life of the party, or someone who dismisses others and tunes them out, there's a good chance you're going to struggle with characters and dialogue. I'm by no means encouraging people to be wallflowers or embrace the guy on the corner screaming "the end is nigh!", but a good writer must be a good observer of people.

Final thought, and we're all guilty of this. If you're only ever spending time with people who talk and think just like you, you're in a bubble of your own making and there's a good chance your characters and dialogue will come across as one dimensional because you have nothing to draw on.

Spend time with real people. Strike up a conversation with the clerk at the drug store. Chat with the Walmart greeter. Say hi to the person in line behind you at the grocery store. People like to talk about themselves if you give them a chance, and there is hidden gold (stories, characters, dialogue) out there if you just look for it.

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