In the life of this writer, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I really love to write dialogue. Like, so much that I sometimes wish I could only write the dialogue portions of our books and leave all the rest to Heather.
*Heather throws a pen at my head from across the room*
Alright, it’s not the only thing I like to write, but it’s close. That’s not to say that I am an expert at creating complex, realistic dialogue, but I see it as one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of writing a strong piece of fiction. Especially in YA Lit.
And here are a few reasons why:
1. Getting to know your characters – You may have a list of traits for your characters. You may know their backgrounds and motivations inside and out. But when you start giving them a real voice – one that successfully translates from your brain to paper – you actually start to know them. Are they whiny, sarcastic, passionate, funny, intelligent? Are they complex enough to offer more than the trite, cliché response? Is the chemistry between love interests there? On a deeper level than just physical attraction.
2. It’s freeing – I don’t have to overthink it in the beginning. I can just let the conversations come out and worry about cleaning it up after. Especially at the beginning of a new WIP when I just want to know my characters, I let the conversations flow and see where they take me. I don’t spend a lot of time beforehand blocking it out. When I’m ready for second draft edits is when I can go back and ask, “Is this something my character would actually say? Does it have the emotional punch I’m looking for?”
3. You know that thing that you wish you said in the moment - That’s me on most days. I will come home and tell a story to my husband, embellishing with strong zingers and he’ll stop me to ask, “Did you actually say that or you just wish you did?” And my response is always, “duh…I didn’t say that!” Well, now is your chance!! Let your characters be bold, confident, and well spoken! That comeback you wish you’d thought of in the moment? Now you get to put it to use. *High fives all around*
So much of your story is told using dialogue… character development, relationships, foreshadowing, conflict. Are your characters saying enough? Are they saying too much? Does it sound realistic? Spend extra time on revisions looking at what is being said and how.
And have fun with it, push the limits of predictability. Especially in the beginning of a new story, let your characters do the talking and watch them come to life.