Writing great dialogue is a surefire way to make your Fan Fiction story stand out from all the others posted along side it. The words your characters speak fulfill a multitude of roles in your story from revealing character to moving the plot forward. Great dialogue is the key to a compelling story, so here are 5 things you can do to improve it right now.
Know Your Characters
Authentic dialogue starts before you even write a single word. In Fan Fiction, it is critical that your characters sound like themselves. Your readers know them every bit as well as you do, maybe even better, so take the time to listen to your characters as they speak to each other-what they say and what they don’t say. Figure out what is important to your characters, what they value and what they are afraid of, and then utilize that when you write the words they speak.
Your characters must sound different when they talk to each other. You should be able to pinpoint who is saying what without tags. (A tag is the he said or she said placed before or after your dialogue.) This is where knowing your characters comes into play-their background, their parents, the place they grew up are all going to influence how they sound when they speak.
Read Dialogue Out Loud
If you are only going to do one thing on this list, this is the one. When you read your dialogue out loud, note the words you stumble over and rewrite them. Make sure your characters’ conversation flows naturally between them, and any information they reveal sounds natural. You want to avoid having your characters ‘info dump’ at all costs. Info dumping is when you have a character announce things they already know to inform the reader.
Less is More
We don’t speak in complete sentences to each other. Dropping a word here or there goes a long way toward your characters sounding real. Long passages of dialogue will drag your Fanfic down, so cut your dialogue down to the bare minimum it takes to get the job done. Characters who repeat themselves quickly become boring! Dialogue is what you wish you’d said in the heat of the moment, not what you actually said. So take out everything that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Leave Something Unsaid
In Fandom, this is called subtext, and goes along with less is more. Oftentimes, what a character doesn’t say speaks louder than anything that could ever come out of his mouth. This is where knowing your character’s backstory (as defined by your Fandom’s canon) comes in handy as well. Perhaps there is a topic she always avoids, something that always causes her to leave the room. Using dialogue like this will also help you to slowly reveal your character’s inner conflict to your reader, enticing them to keep reading.
The good news is that the more dialogue you write, the better you will get at it. Keep your eyes open and notice how other writers write their dialogue. Note what works and what doesn’t. There is no better teacher than studying the work of other authors.