Writing Effective Dialogue

9 May

003And good morning to all of you!

How are you today? Ready for a day of wonder and altered reality?  Are you ready to inspire or inform?

Thanks for taking a few minutes from your busy day to visit me.  I hope you find something worthwhile among my little tips and suggestions today.

Today’s topic is effective dialogue.


Take a moment to read the quote of the day right below this section and then we’ll chat.

Are you ready?

Dialogue must come alive.  It must leap off of the page and engage the reader.  It must flow.

One of the tricks I learned awhile back was to read the dialogue aloud with another person, so it actually sounds like a conversation.  If, after the reading, you are left wanting more, then you need to re-write the dialogue.


“Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs.” ~Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction, 1991

I again refer to one of my favorite mystery writers, James Lee Burke.  His dialogue crackles on the page.  He writes of life in Louisiana and I swear I feel like I am right there in New Iberia Parish listening to two crackers have a talk while chewing Red Man.  He is that effective.


The Bible of the writing industry, The Writer’s Market, just came out with its 2014 edition.  Follow this link to find it on Amazon.

Why do I recommend this book?  Well, it has a complete listing of all publishers and agents in the United States.  It also has a listing of all periodicals in this country, and helpful guides that will aid you in your writing.  You will find submission guidelines for every publication as well as tutorials on how to write an effect query letter and other topics.

If you are a writer and you are serious about trying to get published, then this book is a must to own.


Say hello to Audrey.  You can find her beautiful poetry on her blog here.

Now anyone who knows me knows that poetry is not my first love, so I am saying quite a bit when I tell you that Audrey writes poetry that I look forward to reading. J



Yes indeed, here it is and now, what do you see? What do you think about when you look at this picture? Does it remind you of anything from the past? Any emotions?


Indeed there will be more tomorrow.  I’m going to keep doing this five days a week until my work load won’t allow it.  Judging from the number of views so far, it is obvious that a few people are enjoying it and getting something out of it, so as long as that is the case I will keep giving it to you five days per week.

Have a great day of writing and thank you for stopping by.



14 Responses to “Writing Effective Dialogue”

  1. Janine Huldie May 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I am so going to have to look into the book above. And I know I struggle sometimes writing dialogue and the author you mentioned sounds like he has it down pat and then some. May have to take a look at that, too. And loved how you shared Audrey here, too 🙂

    • Bill Holland May 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

      Janine, the Writers Market is a great resource…if I were you I’d pick up one that’s a couple years old and save some money on ebay. 🙂

  2. Liz May 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Like so many characteristics of good writing, you know great dialogue when you see it, but writing one isn’t as easy as it looks! You have to find that right balance that puts the reader in the scene without getting too flowery. I’ll have to check out James Lee Burke. I’ve heard of him before, but haven’t read any of his work.

    • Bill Holland May 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Lizzy, if you like mysteries then he is the man. But more than being a mystery writer, he is a very good wordsmith and has a unique ability to paint a scene perfectly. I think you would like him. 🙂

  3. Thundermama May 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Great tip about reading dialogue aloud with someone. This writing prompt picture beckons “this way home,” to me. I just might use it for a short story, so big thank you. Also wanted to thank you for the push you gave us last week to look inward and write what we know. Working on a personal essay to post on HubPages soon. I find myself stretching in new directions thanks to this blog. I really enjoy and appreciate it Bill.

    • Bill Holland May 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      Catherine, that does my heart good and I’m looking forward to that new hub. I’m also happy that the picture prompt gave you some ideas. You are a very good writer and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. Thank you for the kind words.

  4. Jon McCloskey May 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    I greatly appreciate you writing this blog, Bill. I’ve only been viewing for a few days now but I already look forward to reading your well written words every day. It’s become one of the few things I’m constantly thinking about during my work week and hope you continue for a good long while.

    • Billybuc May 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Jon, it’s really nice to have you here, and it makes me happy that you like this blog. I’m enjoying it and also enjoying the fact that people find value in it. Thank you!

  5. pictimilitude May 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Great post – I love, love this layout! I enjoy reading these snippets and actually, they’re really helpful because I’m in the process of writing dialogue for a certain project. Thanks, BB!

    • Bill Holland May 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      Well thanks lil’ Sis! That means a lot to me. 🙂

  6. Ruchira May 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    I am still learning the way a dialogue gotta flow…while editing my story…I am realizing that it needs tweeking now and then.

    the picture gives me peace, calm and made me breathe deep.

    Happy Thursday, Bill

    • Bill Holland May 10, 2013 at 12:56 am #

      Ruchira, for me, dialogue is the hardest part of writing. I am constantly tweeking it…an endless process. 🙂

  7. Jaye Denman May 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Morning, Bill….James Lee Burke is one of my favorite writers, too, and he is a master of dialogue. I should re-read one of his books for inspiration. I enjoy writing dialogue, though I’m not always satisfied with my efforts. I often read my writing aloud, both narrative and dialogue, to check the rhythm. Your suggestion to have someone else read the dialogue with me (like reading a play script) is excellent.

    Have a good day….Jaye

    • Billybuc May 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      Good morning Jaye and thanks for stopping by my blog. Yes, exactly, read it like a play script…..I love dialogue but I’m never satisfied with it…but then I’m rarely satisfied with any of my writing. LOL

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