The last post discussed what could be considered the two basic forms of dialogue: questions and statements. But dialogue is also about what’s left unsaid, especially when a speaker actively and intentionally chooses to omit or withhold information.
02 Writing Fiction
Questions & Statements (Revealing Information) 207-04
When writing dialogue, it’s important to consider both what the character is saying, and what they are revealing. There are 4 ways that dialogue can reveal new information to the audience:
1. Questions a character asks.
2. Statements a character makes.
3. How a character responds
4. Vague Remarks & Implications
Conflict & Collaboration in Dialogue 207-03
Goals in Dialogue
All conversations center around a topic. The topic may change over time, but typically there is one focus at any given time. In turn, every character participating in the conversation has a goal in mind. Typically a dialogue goal will center around information, either trying to learn, impart, or conceal information. For example, two characters in a car might debate whether to take the highway or stay on back roads. The focus of the conversation is determining which route they’ll take.
Pacing in Dialogue 207-02
Some techniques for controlling pacing are universal to writing: sentence length, content, etc. (See 206 Pacing for more information about pacing in general.) But dialogue also has two unique technique for managing its pacing: manner of speech, and collaborative vs conflicting dialogue.
Dialogue Relationships & Roles 207-01
Character interaction is all about relationships, and dialogue is no exception. Every conversation centers around one or more important topics, and when discussing a topic it’s important to consider the following questions: