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Stuck With Dialog? You Can Do This!

​As she gazed deeply into his blue-green eyes, she felt herself drawn inexorably into a fathomless pool of desire that felt like surrendering to the deliciously burning heat of a summer sun. Cupping her cheek tenderly in his calloused hand, his lips hovered over hers, drawing out the moment. Then he said in a husky voice, …


Ever paint yourself into a corner like this? We all have. What’s a writer to do?


Sometimes, grabbing a solo coffee and sitting in the corner of a café can help you pick up on conversations around you. You never know when another’s conversation could help you get a feel for how your character might respond.


Even if it’s a DVD rerun, a favorite show can take your mind off of your writer’s block while pulling you in to some great dialog. Although not every show has award-winning writers, many shows work hard on dialog that will advance the plot. Take in how your favorite characters interact with and respond to each other.


When you only have 3 minutes to communicate a feeling, you have to get to the point. Have you been stuck on pop radio for a while? Switch over to a country or blues station. You might find the same types of feelings communicated in a different way. Willie Nelson is great for trying to fit a feeling into a box as he started when radio songs were sometimes no longer than 2 minutes!


You might be wary of unconsciously plagiarizing from others in your genre, but reading the competition will really help. Pick something not just for the enjoyment factor, but to analyize how they talk and how other writers communicate non-verbal messages. Maybe it’s not that your character needs more dialog, but that you need to paint a better picture of ‘how’ they said what they said.


When all else fails, there’s always the life hack of automatic writing to try and jumpstart yourself. Whether for writing or life in general, this trick is fun and refreshing, if nothing else. Put pen to paper and don’t lift it for ten minutes. Just write and write anything and everything and don’t stop. Nothing is off limits, nobody’s going to read what you write. Just let it all out and you might talk through the haze and get to the core of your problem this way. Or just write out a bunch of horrible dialog to get it out of your brain and sharpen what your character is really trying to say.


Dialog is a challenge and not everyone is eloquent. Make sure to read your scenes aloud so that you can hear that your characters sound different. Put a scene down for a week and then come back to it and read it aloud fresh to gain new perspective. If a scene ends up just being frustrating for both characters, don’t necessarily think of scrapping it. Not every conversation you have in real life is beneficial. Sometimes, you leave and you’re frustrated and more confused than when you walked in the door. So let it be for your characters. It might be what the plot needs right at that moment.


If you’re still stuck on dialog, comment below and let me see if I can help! A fresh pair of eyes can often see what you can’t. I’d love to do what I can for fellow writers!

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