7 Tips for Writing Great Dialog

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P.A. Moed

We all know it when we hear it. Great dialog practically leaps off the page.  At its best, it’s a tantalizing tango between characters.   It’s chock full of drama and tension, which leaves us nearly breathless and wanting more.

But writers who want to master their craft have to dig deeper and dissect conversations –much like specimens under a microscope.  While studying the craft of writing, my instructors and other peers would sometimes comment that “nothing was happening” in a scene, even though I was convinced it was full of meaningful dialog.  My conversations between two characters (usually women) was often a heart-to-heart talk about a relationship gone wrong.  Here’s an example from a dozen years ago:

Ana:  He keeps promising it’s going to be different this time.

Deb:  (after a long pause) Do you believe him?

Ana:  I don’t know.

Deb:  Do you still love him?

Ana:  (shrugs)

Deb: …

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