How to Write Realistic Dialogue: 5 Major Rules


When writing dialogue, it is important to create a personality for all your characters. If your characters all sound exactly the same, it may not seem realistic to the reader. You want to make sure that the reader follows the dialogue without much explanation. Most fiction will have dialogue and it should improve the story instead of take away from it. There are some brilliant paraphrasing software you can use if you are a bit stuck with your dialogue. Here are the major rules to write realistic dialogue.

Pay attention when people speak

We can learn to write proper dialogue by paying attention to our surroundings. If you go out to lunch with your friends for instance, perhaps ask their permission to record them while they talk. Play the conversation back and you will surely learn a lot. Many struggle with writing realistic dialogue because they try too hard. You need to avoid this if you want to connect with the readers. When you play back your tape recorder, write down which words people leave out and which idioms are used in normal conversation.

Read through screenplays

There are many great screenwriters out there and you can learn a lot from them. Why not find some interesting screenplays to read? You may learn a thing or two about the transition between characters, what is said and what is left unsaid. Consider using an online paraphraser to help you when you feel that your dialogue sounds unrealistic. We do not always refer to each other by first names when merely having a conversation and you will notice that good screenwriters leave this out. An unrealistic way of writing dialogue will sound something like this; “Dear Maggy. Did Maggy have a great ride from school today? Maggy did you take the bus or the train?” On the other hand, a realistic dialogue will sound more like this; “Hi Maggy. Did you have a great ride from school today? Did you take the bus or the train?”

Write short sentences

A dialogue refers to a conversation between two or more characters. Conversation is a chance for plot and character development. Keep your sentences short and concise and then allow the other person to respond. You cannot have a three line sentence just for one character. That is not how people talk realistically. Focus on one thought in your sentence and then leave the rest for another. This way each character has a chance to stand out. Every dialogue has a main character, but that character does not have to say the most to stand out. Keep it to the point and leave a little to the reader’s imagination.

Prepare the scene 

Before you start your dialogue, make sure the reader can imagine the surrounding, the tone and the emotions of the characters. As soon as the dialogue starts, you cannot explain the setting anymore. By this time, the conversation is all you have to take the story further. By setting the scene early, you give the reader the chance to understand the context. Sometimes you can rewrite a sentence multiple times and it still does not sound realistic; Do not underestimate an online paraphrasing tool, there is nothing wrong with getting a little help from online tools when you’re stuck.

Speech patterns

People have different ways of expressing themselves and it will benefit your story greatly by giving each character their own speech pattern. When the reader sees the way the character is expressing themselves, they will immediately make a connection to who is speaking. You do not even have to place a name in front of the sentence if you create a speech pattern. It is important to let every personality shine because this is what creating characters is all about.


Writing dialogue might take some practice at first because it is so different from writing out a scene. Once you get the hang of it, you will quickly be able to write realistic dialogue. If you are just starting out, make sure you read a lot of other screen plays to familiarize yourself with the proper ways of writing dialogue. Another way to improve your writing is to watch reality TV. While the actors might not always use standard English, you may learn a thing or two about the components of communication. There are many online examples of good dialogue and you should read as many of them as you can. A good dialogue will help the reader to understand the mindset of the characters, while also helping to form expression and action within the scene.

                                                                     Article by Linda Jellison

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