Melissa Ford Lucken
Determining whether the dialogue in a novel is good is subjective and can vary from reader to reader.
Here are some points to consider:
Good dialogue feels natural and authentic. It should reflect how real people speak, with a mix of casual language, pauses, interruptions, and unique speech patterns that differentiate each character. Avoid overly formal or stilted dialogue that doesn’t sound genuine.
Each character should have a distinct voice, reflected in their dialogue. The way they speak, the words they use, and their tone should align with their personality, background, and experiences. Consistency in character voice is crucial to creating believable and engaging dialogue.
Subtext and Conflict
Dialogue should often carry layers of meaning beyond the surface level. It can reveal underlying emotions, motivations, and conflicts between characters. Effective dialogue will have subtext, where characters may say one thing but imply another, creating tension and intrigue.
Purpose and Relevance
Every line of dialogue should serve a purpose in advancing the story, developing characters, or conveying important information. Avoid filler dialogue that doesn’t contribute to the narrative or character development.
Dialogue should flow smoothly and be easy to read. Pay attention to the pacing, sentence structure, and paragraph breaks to ensure the dialogue is visually appealing and doesn’t overwhelm readers. Dialogue should have a good balance with narrative and description, allowing readers to visualize the scene.
Here are a couple methods that can aid in considering revisions:
Feedback from beta readers, critique partners, or editors can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your dialogue. Seek honest feedback from trusted sources who can offer constructive criticism on the strengths and weaknesses of your dialogue.
Reading your dialogue aloud can help you identify any awkward phrasing, unnatural rhythms, or clunky exchanges. Hearing the dialogue can give you a sense of its flow and whether it sounds convincing and engaging.