Laura Howard: Writing Believable Dialogue


Writing Believable Dialogue

Amber Garza has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl making books out of notebook paper and staples. As an adult she's worked hard to make her dream of being a published a reality.

She also teaches writing workshops to teens and young adults, taking students through the writing process from conception to publication. 

I love writing dialogue. It’s actually my favorite aspect of writing a scene. It makes sense because I LOVE to talk. 

The key to writing believable dialogue is to write it the same way people actually talk. When I first started writing I fell in the trap of writing dialogue in complete sentences, but we don’t talk in complete sentences much of the time. To keep myself from making this mistake continually, I like to speak my dialogue as I write it. If something sounds funny coming out of my mouth than I will nix it and try again. 

Throughout the years I've been told that my strengths are characterization and dialogue. Descriptions and settings are my weaknesses. Often times I will write pages of dialogue and realize I've never said where my characters are or what they are doing. So, I've learned to write in a “layered way.”

Let me explain. 

In the rough draft of my manuscripts I write what comes naturally. Therefore my rough drafts are pages upon pages of nothing but of dialogue. This helps with the flow and continuity of the dialogue because I can just focus on the volley back and forth. After I get the structure down, I go back into my manuscript and add in descriptions, character movements and setting.

A lot of times the key to making dialogue believable is just a matter of taking out some words, making the statements more choppy and clipped, like the way we talk in normal conversation. I pay close attention to the conversations around me in my daily life and draw from that. As an author I've learned to be very observant. I’m sure it makes me seem really creepy when I’m out in public, but it helps when I’m trying to put a scene on paper.

But, like everything else with my writing, I find that it gets easier with practice.

I'd love to hear what you have to say about writing believable dialogue - leave a comment!


  1. I'm horrible at this. I try to write the way I talk but after a conversation with a stranger I realize that's probably confusing. But not using correct grammar and slang, like friends do, just seems fake. And I wouldn't want to date a story unintentionally.

  2. Enjoyed the post! A "layered" approach - I like that. I too find myself often writing pages upon pages of dialog. Dialog comes naturally for me. Settings and descriptions, not so much. I often stress and obsess over the tiniest descriptive passages. I guess we all really do have our strengths and weaknesses.

  3. Two years ago when I began writing again (after a 10 year absence - yes 10!), I was very weak at dialogue; I fell into the trap of wanting to narrate everything. I have since improved in the dialogue arena thank goodness.

    Thank you for posting this article.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.