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  • Dialogue gives a story color, makes it exciting and moves it forward.

  • Romeo: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?

  • Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?

  • Romeo: The exchange of thy love's faithful vows for mine.

  • Without dialogue:

  • So what goes into writing effective dialogue?

  • Well, there are social skills: making friends, solving conflicts, being pleasant and polite.

  • We won't be using any of those today.

  • Instead, we'll be working on -- let's call them "anti-social skills."

  • If you're a writer, you may already have a few of these.

  • The first is eavesdropping.

  • If you're riding a bus and hear an interesting conversation, you could write it all down.

  • Of course, when you write fiction, you're not describing real people, you're making up characters.

  • But sometimes the words you overhear can give you ideas.

  • "I did not," says one person.

  • "I saw you," the other replies.

  • Who might be saying those words?

  • Maybe it's two kids in a class, and the boy thinks the girl pushed him.

  • Maybe it's a couple, but one of them is a vampire, and the woman vampire saw the man flirting with a zombie.

  • Or maybe not.

  • Maybe the characters are a teenager and his mother, and they're supposed to be vegetarians, but the mother saw him eating a burger.

  • So let's say you've decided on some characters.

  • This is anti-social skill number two:

  • start pretending they're real.

  • What are they like? Where are they from? What music do they listen to?

  • Spend some time with them.

  • If you're on a bus, think about what they might be doing if they were there too.

  • Would they talk on the phone, listen to music, draw pictures, sleep?

  • What we say depends on who we are.

  • An older person might speak differently than a younger person.

  • Someone from the south might speak differently than someone from the north.

  • Once you know your characters, you can figure out how they talk.

  • At this stage, it's helpful to use anti-social skill number three:

  • muttering to yourself.

  • When you speak your character's words, you can hear whether they sound natural, and fix them if necessary.

  • Remember, most people are usually pretty informal when they speak.

  • They use simple language and contractions.

  • So, "Do not attempt to lie to me" sounds more natural as "Don't try to lie to me."

  • Also keep it short.

  • People tend to speak in short bursts, not lengthy speeches.

  • And let the dialogue do the work.

  • Ask yourself: do I really need that adverb?

  • For instance, "'Your money or your life,' she said threateningly."

  • Here, "threateningly" is redundant, so you can get rid of it.

  • But if the words and the actions don't match, an adverb can be helpful.

  • "'Your money or your life,' she said lovingly."

  • So, to recap:

  • First, eavesdrop. Next, pretend imaginary people are real.

  • Finally, mutter to yourself, and write it all down.

  • You already have everything you need.

  • This is fictional dialogue, or "How to Hear Voices in Your Head."

Dialogue gives a story color, makes it exciting and moves it forward.

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B1 TED-Ed dialogue anti speak social romeo

【TED-Ed】Three anti-social skills to improve your writing - Nadia Kalman

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    Why Why posted on 2021/11/02
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