The Art of Writing Compelling Dialogue | Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid


Dialogue is a fundamental aspect of creative writing, and it plays a crucial role in bringing characters to life and advancing the plot. However, writing compelling dialogue can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you master the art of writing dialogue that captivates your readers.

Make It Sound Natural

Realistic dialogue is essential in engaging readers. However, it is essential to remember that honest conversation is often filled with pauses, stutters, and other filler words. Therefore, capturing the essence of authentic dialogue is crucial without including all the clutter.

To achieve this, read your dialogue out loud and see how it sounds. Do the characters sound like real people? Does it flow naturally? If not, revise until it feels right.

The show, Do not Tell

Dialogue is an effective way to show what is happening in your story rather than telling it. It is an excellent opportunity to reveal your characters’ thoughts and feelings instead of describing them.

For instance, instead of “John was angry,” you could write, “Why did you do that?” John slammed his fist on the table.

The dialogue demonstrates that John is angry instead of telling us.

Keep It Engaging

Compelling dialogue should advance the story and reveal new information. Avoid using dialogue that’s just small talk or filler.

Consider the conflicts between your characters and how their dialogue can reveal them. Use dialogue to advance the plot and reveal new information.

Use Dialogue Tags Wisely

Dialogue tags like “he said” or “she asked” can help indicate who is speaking. However, using them can be distracting.

Consider using action tags instead of dialogue tags to show who is speaking. 

In this example, we know John speaks because of the action rather than a dialogue tag.

Use Subtext

Subtext refers to what is not being said in a conversation. According to essay writing help UK who provides best essay to the students it is the underlying thoughts and emotions that are implied by the dialogue. Using subtext can add depth to your characters and create tension in your story.

Consider what your characters think and feel, and use their dialogue to reveal that subtext.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Dialogue

As with any aspect of creative writing, there are common mistakes that writers can make with dialogue. Here are a few to avoid:

Excessive Small Talk: While some small talk can be natural and add to the realism of the dialogue, too much can be tedious for readers. Ensure that every line of dialogue serves a purpose in moving the story forward.

Too Much Information: Avoid having characters explain things they would already know to each other. This can be an easy way to provide information to the reader, but it can feel forced and unrealistic.

Stereotypical Dialogue: Avoid using clichés or stereotypes in your dialogue. Instead, create unique voices for your characters that reflect their personalities and backgrounds.

Lack of Variety: Vary the length and style of your dialogue to keep it interesting for the reader. If all your characters sound the same, it can become monotonous.


Writing compelling dialogue is a vital component of creative writing. By making your dialogue sound natural, showing rather than telling, keeping it engaging, using dialogue tags wisely, and using subtext, you can write captivating conversations that bring your story to life. By avoiding common mistakes such as excessive small talk, too much information, stereotypical dialogue, and lack of variety, you can write dialogue that engages and entertains your readers.

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