4. Creating Human Characters

Page 7 of 9 | Heart of the Story | How Do You? | Personality | Discovering Your Characters (1) | Discovering Your Characters (2) | Show, Don't Tell |
| Dialogue | Minor Characters | Don't Try This at Home! |

Bringing Your Characters to Life: Dialogue
Another way to dramatize, of course, is through dialogue—conversations of one character with another. (In fact, in a screenplay or stage script, dialogue constitutes most of the writing.) We'll be referring to dialogue later, in the section on Language and Style. But since dialogue is so important to character, let's get a start on the subject here.
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Dialogue conveys information about your characters in several ways. The words exchanged by people may, of course, convey information directly.

"I'm going to the store."

But the tone and style of speech may be equally important. What do these variations on the above line tell you about the speaker?

"Ah'm a'goin' down t'the store," he drawled.

"I'm going to the store," she said stiffly.

He struggled to get it out. "I-I'm g-going to the store."

This simple example shows that with just a few words you can convey not just a sense of what's happening, but also something about the players. Note again that you're showing something about their character, not just telling the reader.

Illustration from Dragons in the Stars

If you find you're having trouble writing dialogue and making it sound right, try this trick: read it aloud to yourself. It may feel funny at first, but just pretend you're writing a script for actors, and trying out the lines. You'll find that awkward or wooden dialogue is a lot easier to spot that way, and if you put yourself "into the characters," you may find that more natural expressions will come to mind.


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