How to improve dialogue and capture your readers’ attention

For some writers, dialogue is their biggest challenge, not necessarily because they don’t know what they want their characters to say, but because they don’t know how to present that dialogue well.

Today I thought I’d jump off a topic our own Kelly Barr touched on a couple of weeks ago on the blog when she wrote about the difference between action beats and dialogue tags.

As a new fiction writer, I am among those writers who sometimes don’t do the best job of presenting dialogue in my stories.

One of the traps that we new writers fall into is adding descriptive words to replace “said” after every part of dialogue. Instead of simply writing “said”, writers often try to break up that monotony by replacing “said” with terms like “exclaimed,” “declared” or “shouted.” Sometimes these replacements work, but sometimes, if read in successive dialogue exchanges, these descriptive words can be completely awkward.

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