Reported by Chadwick Gillenwater
“Dialogue must come alive in the mouth,” said Lin.
This is just one of many nuggets of advice Lin gave us during her workshop. She told us to let dialogue give our characters voice, to move the plot along, to dramatize the action, to forward the story, to add pace and rhythm to the scene, and to allow characters to express their emotions.
A few of Lin’s tips for writing effective dialogue are: make kids sound like kids, always read your dialogue aloud, and beware of using too many alternative words for said.
And perhaps the best tip she gave us was: EAVESDROP! EAVESDROP! EAVESDROP! Pick out the tics in the way different people talk. Notice how teenagers talk versus five-year-olds. Can you tell where a person is from? Can you tell if they are passive aggressive or apologetic? Angry?
How will you know when you’re writing good dialogue? You as the author will disappear, vanish, and your characters will seem to move under their own power and speak their own voice, sometimes surprising even you with what they have to say. They and you will be in the flow.