Punch Up The Dialogue

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Punch Up The Dialogue

Now that you've worked through your story problems and have solidified your characters, you can turn your attention to dialogue. It's normal to have a lot of on-the-nose dialogue in a first draft. But now it's time to punch it up.

Does your dialogue:

• propel the action forward by anticipating the future through predictions, warnings, or implication?
• deliver emotion (funny, threatening, evasive)?
• come from your character's core traits?
• have subtext?
• allow for moments of wordless communication, such as silence itself or action in place of words?
• use metaphor, irony, and sarcasm?
• generate unexpected responses?
• go to the extreme?
• contain jargon?

Remember, good dialogue is a match of wills. Depending on your story and characters, the tussle of words can be fun and playful. To give you an example, I recently called my cousin to wish him a Merry Christmas. "Who are you? Put Alexis on the phone," he responded. That was his way of ribbing me for what he perceives (correctly, I might add) to be my lack of Christmas spirit. I cracked up. What a great response to a banal statement like "Merry Christmas." It revealed character, it spoke volumes about our relationship, it was funny, and it was steeped with subtext. Put your characters in situations of constantly negotiating their status, and your dialogue will come to life.



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