Writing without knowing the basic rules can get complicated, especially in complex writing, such as stories, plays, or screenplays. To master the art of compelling writing, you must master certain important rules guiding that genre of writing; for example, there are rules guiding dialogues in fiction writing.

Effective dialogue can bring your characters to life, advance your plot, and engage your readers. Poorly crafted dialogue can hinder the flow of your narrative and make your characters flat and very unconvincing.

Most writers find it difficult to breathe life into their characters; they struggle with evoking emotions in their readers because they do not understand how to make their characters real.

So, you see why knowing the rules is crucial. This article will examine a few dos and don’ts of dialogue writing. You may feel they are minimal and overlook them, but as you read on, you’ll realise their impact on your overall story.

Dos in Dialogue Writing

The following are the necessary steps to take when writing a dialogue:

  • Make Your Dialogue Sound Natural

It is important to sound natural when writing a dialogue. What this means is you need to make your character relatable to the everyday lifestyle of an ordinary man. Although it is fictional and, thus, provides the leverage for your imaginations to run wild, there is a certain limit to it that could make your readers feel disconnected from the characters.

Your dialogues don’t need to speak in perfect sentences with impeccable grammar; people don’t always do that, do they? Real-life conversations often have interruptions, hesitations, and errors or blunders. Embrace the imperfections of human speech when writing to make your characters and their interactions real and relatable.

  • Give Your Character a Unique Voice

Each character in your story is unique, and you must ensure each uniqueness is portrayed efficiently. No two characters should sound alike. Therefore, their distinct speaking style and voice should be unique.

Before you proceed, take your time to properly consider the characters’ backgrounds, personalities, and experiences, and ensure you portray these in their dialogue adequately. This distinctiveness helps your readers differentiate each character from the others and adds depth to their narrative.

Although there is always a protagonist, that doesn’t mean they must overshadow everyone else completely. Every player is essential in the grand scheme of things.

  • Show Emotions Through Dialogue

An effective dialogue should properly convey your characters’ emotions. Aim to convey your character’s emotions without necessarily stating them in written words. You can use subtext, tone, and body language to reveal your character’s feelings.

Doing this adds depth and complexity to your characters and keeps your audience engaged. The writing rule on showing and not telling also applies in dialogue: show, don’t tell.

Don’ts in Dialogue Writing

To effectively and accurately write a dialogue, there are some things you must not do, and they are:

  •  Giving Unnecessary Information

Don’t be tempted to give too much information in your dialogue. Many writers fall into this trap. The nagging urge to give so much away thinking it makes the story more interesting. It doesn’t. Avoid using the dialogue as a tool for dumping information or backstory. Trust your readers’ intellectuality to connect the dots themselves. When giving too much, you give the thrill away.

Overloading dialogue with unnecessary details can disrupt the whole story flow as it can seem forced. The best way to reveal information to your readers is through actions, emotions, and subtle hints along the story progression.

  • Using Dialogue as a Monologue

Here is another mistake that most writers make without realising. They create a dialogue where one voice dominates the conversation. Dialogue is a two-way street. You should avoid creating scenes where one character dominates the conversation and the other merely listens.

Dialogue should be a back-and-forth engagement that reveals both characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Always ensure that your dialogue is well-balanced, builds character relationships and keeps the story moving forward.

  • Using Long Sentences

Writers often use long sentences in their dialogues, giving readers no breathing space or pleasure while reading their work. Don’t use too-long sentences in your dialogue. Instead, break down your sentences using short fragments, mirroring the exact way people talk.

If in your story, a mother is explaining to her child why they have to relocate to another city, instead of having her say, ‘Kofi, I believe that Kumasi would be a better place for us to live, and we will be able to make ends meet’, have her say, ‘Kofi, I believe that Kumasi would be a better place to live. There, we will be able to make ends meet’.


Mastering the dos and don’ts of dialogue writing takes time, but as time goes on, you will soon realise that it’s no rocket science. These rules are essential for creating engaging and believable stories that hook your audience. When writing, you should aim to be natural and give your characters a unique voice of their own.

At Sabi Writers, we are passionate about compelling storytelling, and our customers’ dreams are our priority. Our team of expert storytellers can craft compelling stories for your readers in your voice and writing style. Send us an email at hello@sabiwriters.com


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