Phrasing Dialogues

Phrasing Dialogues

‘Vince, I think we should break up’, announced Sandra. She was fed up of Vince’s attitude toward her relationship and wanted to part ways with him.

“But, but, why, Sandra? I thought we were fine”, exclaimed Vince. He was baffled because he thought everything was going fine between them and he least imagined Sandra wanting to break up with him.

“I do not know, Vince. Your attitude has been irritating me. Why did you have to fight with my friend, Eric, for having lunch with me, Vince? That was superfluous”, she said with a fed-up voice. She felt Vince should not have taken the issue of her having lunch with Eric too seriously.

“Err, I know, Sandra. I’ve like asked an apology a thousand times to you. What else do you want me to do?”, questioned Vince.

“Vince, Vince, Vince..! I don’t know. But we have to break up. It is not going to work like this anymore. Just leave me alone”, said Sandra and walked off from Vince.

This conversation could go on, but that’s not the case. The thing is how you feel about this conversation. This is an example of one of the worst conversations that could ever make it to a book. I came up with this to point out how a conversation shouldn’t be written. In the conversation, there are a lot of things to consider and ponder about. There are so many bad approaches to writing a conversation in the passage that makes this piece an epic fail. Here, we have mentioned some of it. Check them out.

Adding a Narrative to Every Dialogue

In the first line of the conversation, Sandra wants to break up with Vince, which of course would have been the result of some past episode. The narrative that follows is totally unnecessary. You don’t have to explain to readers that Sandra is fed up and wants to part ways with Vince, because Sandra has already said it. Adding narratives like this only shows the writer’s lack of confidence. It reveals that the writer did was unsure if his thought would reach his audience. Similar narratives are repeated throughout the conversation. Avoid them.

Characters calling Each Other’s Name too often

The entire conversation has the characters calling each other’s name each time they talk. Imagine, do you talk like this with your friends or family, calling out their names in every other sentence? Practically, we don’t. So, why should your characters?

Trying to be Over-realistic

In some conversations, non-lexical fillers work. But in most, they don’t. They just sound too boring and leave the readers wondering what’s happening. Well, if non-lexical fillers are part of the way your character communicates, that’s fine. If you’re simply adding them to be realistic, it doesn’t work.

Too Formal Sentences and Word Choices

Think of your life; is your grammar perfect when you speak? Do you use heavy words in normal conversations? No. This is why the above dialogues appear boring. For instance, Sandra uses words like superfluous, an alternate word to unnecessary. When you look it up on a dictionary, you would realize it should be used in a different context. And she also says I do not know’. When we speak, we tend to be casual and an I don’t’ would’ve been enough. You need to understand your character before you write your dialogues. It is okay (necessary nowadays) to include words like wassup and grammatically incorrect sentences, as this is how people speak in daily life.

Dialogue Tags

Another misconception among authors is that they feel repeating the phrase, She said, he said, or they said’ would become redundant after a point and readers would find it boring. So, they try to add alternate words like I’ve used exclaimed. Again, it is completely fine in some cases. But if you’re trying to show a variety, it doesn’t work well. It is okay to use She said’ and the likes as readers would overlook it when they read.


  • Write realistic dialogues but don’t go overboard.
  • Write dialogues depending on how your characters would think and speak and not how readers would want to read.
  • Don’t hesitate to use the same dialogue tags.
  • Characters need not tell each other’s name throughout their dialogues.
  • Include dialogues only if there is a purpose. Dialogues are not page-fillers but plot-movers.
  • Do not explain your dialogue with a narrative. It’s like reading the same line twice.
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Aravind S

Aravind, works as a publishing mentor at Notion Press. His articles help aspiring writers realize their dream of becoming a published author. He has several years of experience in the publishing industry and has researched on digital media and the future of print-publishing. He is an active mentor for a community of writers to educate and guide them toward writing a book that sells.

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