He Said…She Said: Writing Dialogue

He Said…She Said: Writing Dialogue


When it come to writing novels, one area I always finding myself struggling is dialogue.

Sometimes I get bogged down and can barely get a two word sentence out. . Other times, I find myself writing long flowery prose. Somehow I find it difficult to create realistic discussions that are relevant and move the story forward.

Dialogue and thoughts go hand in hand. The male perspective and female perspective, are completely different and very unique. They are shaped by culture, experience, and age. Even money, hormones, location and race dictates how they will react and what they will say. Understanding speech patterns is whole other ball game.

A friend of mine suggested going to a bar and just listening to people talk. He said that was the best place to pick up on genuine banter, facial expressions and camaraderie.

I thought this was great idea until I realized I don’t drink or spend any time in bars, let alone want to go there to sit by myself as a single female with a paper and pen listening to strangers. Probably not the safest thing to do. (Really have to think twice about advice taken from a single male.)

Still he wasn’t wrong. From a male perspective of his age, experience and sex, it seemed perfectly valid advice. From a female perspective, of my age, status and experience the thought was scary and far fetched.

But it did give me food for thought and made me look at dialogue in a completely different way.


[ˈdīəˌläɡ, ˈdīəˌlôɡ]
conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie:
“the book consisted of a series of dialogues” ·
synonyms: conversation · talk · discussion · interchange · discourse · chat ·





It is a conversation, good, bad, indifferent. Their is a dance of words between people. Most of the times, I think it’s the characters that write the scene. Then again, I think it could be the plot that dictates their discourse.  On a good day, the words flow out of their mouth effortlessly in back and forth banter. On a bad day, they mumble, curse  or glare at each other refusing to utter a sound. No scene is ever the same and character is ever the same. So needless to say the dialogue is never the same. It all depends on the scene or situation.

Writing romance is doubly difficult because words in a relationship matter. It is what they say that can make or break a relationship. The male has his views, the female has hers. Neither is really ever on the same page emotionally. Physically they want the same thing and the verbal and non-verbal queues are there but as a writer no one is going to simply write dialogue that is brusque and straight to the point (unless the scene calls for it)

He held her tightly in his embrace and whispered into her ear, “I want you.”

“Take me now!” She said breathlessly.

Totally cheesy, cliché and effective. Assuming this is the love scene, of course. Now change a few words and the meaning take on a whole different feel.

He held her tightly in his embrace and whispered into her ear, “Please, don’t leave me alone on this earth.”

“I promise to always be with you!” She said breathlessly.

Now, the mood is completely different. Less erotic, more loving and there is a heaviness to it. Without even knowing the context or the situation, the words still convey a message.

There is no wrong or right way to write dialogue. Honestly, I just listen to the characters and let them tell me what they want to say. Hopefully today will be an easy day and they will do all the talking for me.

Never really know what he will say or she will say. It is he said, she said.


How do you deal with dialogue? Any tricks or suggestions?




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