Five Areas for Improving Your Story’s Dialogue (Part Three)

Today AuthorHouse presents the conclusion of its three-part series on dialogue improvement. In the first two parts (Part One | Part Two), we discussed the six functions of dialogue, the importance of using the appropriate vocabulary, and the need for captivating conversations that grab the reader’s attention.


Now we’ll present the final three tips for improving the dialogue in your self-published book!


3. Be Discerning with Dialect and Slang


The general rule of thumb regarding dialect and slang is “less is more.” Scotsmen do not have to talk as though they are reciting a Rabbie Burns poem, Frenchmen do not have to sound like Inspector Clouseau, and not every Cockney talks as though they were born hugger mugger to the sound of Bow Bells. Instead, you can modify your character’s speech to give a suggestion of dialect so that your readers can imagine how they sound but still understand what they are saying.


4. Punctuate for Professionalism


In order to produce the most professional manuscript you can, your dialogue needs to be punctuated correctly. Make sure your dialogue:


– Begins on a new line whenever there is a new speaker.


– Has quotation marks around the words. US standard is to have double quotation marks and UK standard is single. Just make sure you are consistent once you have chosen which to use.


– Has punctuation inside the quotation marks.


– Ends with a comma before a dialogue tag or with a full stop before an action.


5. What Can You Improve Upon?


Make sure you read your dialogue aloud when you are editing it. If it doesn’t flow or sound authentic when you are saying it, it will not come across as such to your readers. Look out for tired clichés, and register the rhythm and pacing of your story. Also ensure that your dialogue is contributing to your story by making sure it is performing at least one of its six functions, as outlined in the first part of this series.



Eavesdropping is a fun pastime. Here is a justification for indulging in it without feeling guilty! Visit a local public place, such as coffee shop or the local park, and sit unobtrusively near to where people sit and talk. Pick up the various idiosyncrasies people have in the words they use and repeat and in their speech patterns. Now go back and see if you can add any of these common traits into your story’s dialogue and see if it results in any improvement.


And that concludes both this post and this series on dialogue improvement. We hope you’ve found this useful!


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