In my old writing, their were a few things that I could pinpoint as jarring. However, there is one particular thing that I feel has unfortunately bled into my writing today. I feel as though my dialogue isn’t as strong as it could be. In looking back at my first draft, I’ve noticed that my dialogue isn’t ale to undulate between characters, or progress the plot. It feels as if when my characters have a conversation, the entire plot around them screeches to a halt. There are a few things that I’ve noticed that I did with my writing and how I fixed them (or at least how I’ve started to change my dialogue for the better).
Avoid the Character Info Dump
One of the first things that I picked out in some of my old dialogue was that I tended to have a lot of exposition between characters. In writing, exposition can be a tricky thing to handle. This is why a lot of writers tend to follow the “show don’t tell” rule. When telling key aspects of the story through a conversation can work, but more often than not, it’s at the expense of the progression of the story. As I am now, I know that I’m not the type of writer than can have dialogue that moves smoothly while also being bogged down with exposition.
Make it Real
When I reread my older works, something that was very jarring was how odd the dialogue sounded coming from certain characters. I have an embarrassing example that I can recount. I had an old story centering around a thirteen year old learning that he comes from a line of royal mages (that line alone can key one into the abundance of clichés that were riddled through that old work). When giving him dialogue, even before he knew of his powers, he spoke like an adult. Well, not like a true adult. He spoke like an immature adult that would spout of first year level philosophies with a pseudo understanding of what it was he was truly saying. As one could imagine, conversations with him were very jilting. This isn’t to say that he would have been better off sounding like the overplayed stereotype of what a teenager would sound like. This may sound vague, but if I were to rewrite this story, I would simply make his dialogue more human. He would speak in way that makes sense in tandem with his experience. It wouldn’t make sense for a teenager to speak like a worldly and experienced spiritual guru, when he hadn’t even left his small suburb before.
Those were the main issues that I saw in my writing and my lackluster dialogue. Hopefully this can help someone else. Please feel free to add your experience with a comment!